• Oil-price drop rattles smaller operators in Kansas

    Updated: Thu, Dec 18, 2014

    WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — When crude prices were high, Kansas oilman Robert Murdock made plans to drill 20 new wells next year. Not anymore. Murdock, president of Hutchinson-based Osage Resources, said that when oil prices dipped below $60 a barrel this month, "it changes your thinking as far as putting money into the ground." So far, he's scaled down his drilling plans for new wells at least by half. "If prices continue to decrease, we may not drill any next year," Murdock said. It costs between $2 million and $3 million to drill a horizontal well a mile deep with a lateral of a mile, he said.

  • Germany's BASF, Gazprom scrap planned asset swap

    Updated: Thu, Dec 18, 2014

    BERLIN (AP) — Germany's BASF SE says it has agreed with Russian gas company Gazprom to call off an asset swap that the two firms had planned for the end of this year. BASF didn't immediately give a reason for Thursday's decision. Russia is currently facing a raft of sanctions from the European Union and the U.S. over its actions in Ukraine. The planned swap would have seen BASF subsidiary Wintershall transfer a jointly operated natural gas trading and storage business to Gazprom. In addition, Gazprom would have got a 50 percent share in the activities of a unit that explores for and produces oil and gas in southern areas of the North Sea. In return, Gazprom and Wintershall were to develop jointly two additional

  • Some see gas as replacement for Vermont Yankee

    Updated: Thu, Dec 18, 2014

    VERNON, Vt. (AP) — About to lose their biggest employer and taxpayer, local leaders in Vernon are hoping a gas-fired power plant will be built to replace the soon-to-close Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. But any such project would face big questions — including whether enough gas would be available to fuel it. Patty O'Donnell, chairwoman of the town Select Board and a former Republican state representative, said this week that town officials hope soon to be in touch with a company that is planning to build a new gas pipeline across northwestern Massachusetts about a spur to Vernon. "This is still in the very beginning stages, but it's certainly very doable," O'Donnell said.

  • Texas retail gasoline prices drop 14 cents

    Updated: Thu, Dec 18, 2014

    IRVING, Texas (AP) — Texas and nationwide retail gasoline prices continue to slide with both dropping 14 cents per gallon this week. AAA Texas on Thursday reported the average statewide price settled at $2.26 per gallon. Drivers nationally are paying an average $2.48 per gallon. Corpus Christi has the most expensive gasoline in Texas at $2.34 per gallon. The association survey found Amarillo has the cheapest gasoline in Texas at an average $2.10 per gallon. AAA experts say the average price at the pump has declined nearly 25 percent since the start of the year amid falling global crude oil prices.

  • Cheniere lands 20-year natural gas deal in Portugal

    Updated: Thu, Dec 18, 2014

    HOUSTON (AP) — Cheniere Energy landed a 20-year contract to supply natural gas in Portugal, sending shares up 8 percent in early trading. The natural gas boom in the U.S. has led to a rush by major producers to put into place the infrastructure to ship overseas. Companies such as Exxon Mobil and Sempra Energy are seeking federal permits for more than 20 export projects that could handle as much as 29 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day. Only one license has been issued in the U.S. to build a liquid natural gas export terminal, however, and Cheniere owns it. The contract announced Thursday, through Cheniere subsidiary Corpus Christi Liquefaction, will be sold to the utility company EDP Energias de Portugal S.

  • Saudi says oil decisions not linked to politics

    Updated: Thu, Dec 18, 2014

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's oil chief said in comments published Thursday that there are no links between the kingdom's decision to oppose production cuts and political objectives — an apparent response to accusations last week from Shiite powerhouse Iran. Petroleum Minister Ali Naimi was quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency as saying that there are "incorrect information and analyses ... linking petroleum decisions with political objectives." "These erroneous analyses will undoubtedly be exposed and proven wrong," he said, adding that eventually "others will see that what we are doing will yield the best results for the kingdom.

  • Gulf stocks gain with Dubai closing 13 percent up

    Updated: Thu, Dec 18, 2014

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Gulf equity markets made massive gains Thursday with Dubai's main stock market rising 13 percent, just two days after closing at its lowest point of the year. Abu Dhabi's stock market closed 6.7 percent higher on Thursday while the Saudi index closed 8.9 percent higher. The upswing in Gulf equities comes on the back of a rise in the price of benchmark U.S. crude, which closed 54 cents higher at $56.47 on Wednesday. Brent crude gained $1.17 to close at $61.18. It also came a day after the U.S. stock market had its best day in more than a year after the Federal Reserve said it foresaw no interest rate hikes in the first quarter of 2015.

  • Gunfire damages BPA insulators, reward offered

    Updated: Thu, Dec 18, 2014

    TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The Bonneville Power Administration says people shooting at its high-voltage power line near Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the Tacoma, Washington, area have damaged power line insulators. The agency is offering a maximum $25,000 reward for tips leading to those involved. BPA said Wednesday that over the past 90 days, there have been four incidents of damaged insulators on its Olympia-Grand Coulee transmission line between the towns of Spanaway and Graham. Damaged insulators can put people nearby at risk of electric shock, serious injury or death. The Pierce County sheriff's office is investigating. The federal utility sells power produced at 31 dams and a nuclear power plant, largely to public

  • Why the Fed thinks US economy still needs its help

    Updated: Wed, Dec 17, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — If you didn't know about the lingering damage from the Great Recession, the U.S. economy would appear remarkably strong. The unemployment rate is a close-to-healthy 5.8 percent. Inflation is unusually low. Crashing oil prices are rewarding consumers with a tax cut of sorts. Yet the Federal Reserve made clear Wednesday that it's eyeing those improvements with caution. The Fed isn't yet convinced it can start to pull away its stimulus of record-low interest rates. Though the Fed has kept its key rate near zero for nearly six years to encourage borrowing, spending and investment, the economy has yet to fully repair the destruction from its worst crisis in 80 years. Many workers remain trapped in p

  • Oklahoma City residents worried about Lake Hefner oil drilling proposal bring concerns to water trust

    By Paul Monies, Business Writer | Updated: Wed, Dec 17, 2014

    Several residents worried about an oil company’s proposal to drill on the southern shore of Oklahoma City’s Lake Hefner turned out Tuesday to a regular meeting of the city’s water trust.

  • Fed rate wording boosts Asian stock markets

    Updated: Wed, Dec 17, 2014

    Asian stock markets powered higher Thursday, sweeping aside worries about a flagging global economy after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would to remain "patient" in its approach to raising interest rates. KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 surged 2.5 percent to 17,242.33 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.1 percent to 22,828.49. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.1 percent to 5,221.80. Markets in Taiwan and Southeast Asia also gained. China's Shanghai Composite added 0.1 percent to 3,063.01. Seoul's Kospi was down 0.1 percent at 1,897.91. FED SPEAK: The world's most powerful central bank is edging closer to raising interest rates from record lows given a strengthening U.S. economy. But it will be "patient" in deciding when to do

  • Former Phillips Petroleum CEO dies in Bartlesville

    From STAFF REPORTS | Published: Wed, Dec 17, 2014

    Former Phillips Petroleum Co. CEO C.J. “Pete” Silas died Tuesday at the Jane Phillips Medical Center in Bartlesville.

  • Michigan road funds deal in doubt this session

    Updated: Wed, Dec 17, 2014

    LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders failed Wednesday to negotiate a potential tax increase to improve Michigan's deteriorating roads, as chances of a $1.2 billion deal dwindled before lawmakers adjourn for the year. Thursday is the last voting day of the two-year session, and time is running out to pitch a compromise proposal to rank-and-file members of the Republican-led Legislature. The Senate and House approved vastly different plans after the November election. The Republican governor and legislative leaders ended a night meeting in the Capitol with plans to resume talks in the morning. "There was positive progress moving things forward," Snyder told reporters, declining to give specific

  • Nevada regulators reject tribal solar plant again

    Updated: Wed, Dec 17, 2014

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada regulators on Wednesday refused a second request to waive competitive bids for utility company NV Energy to buy solar power from a proposed solar generation station on the Moapa River Paiute Indian Reservation outside Las Vegas. Proponents said they hope the company will try again, while state Bureau of Consumer Protection chief Eric Witkowski called the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada decision a win for consumers because it'll help ensure customers don't overpay. NV Energy issued a statement saying it remains committed to shutting down the four-unit coal-fired Reid Gardner power plant by the end of 2017. The plant, which started operating in 1965, produces up to 557 megawatts of electricity.

  • US-Cuba thaw could benefit farmers, energy and travel firms

    Updated: Wed, Dec 17, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Freighters once carried Cuban nickel and limestone to the port of New Orleans and North Dakota beans to Havana. Cuban families ate bowls of American rice, while U.S. tourists flocked to casinos and nightclubs in Havana. The United States' commercial ties with Cuba were broken 54 years ago after Fidel Castro took over. Now U.S.-Cuba trade is poised to resume: President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced plans to re-establish diplomat relations with Havana, and economic ties are expected to follow. Among those eager for access to a Cuban market cut off by an economic embargo are U.S. farmers, travel companies, energy producers and importers of rum and cigars.

  • Reaction to NY decision on hydro-fracturing ban

    Updated: Wed, Dec 17, 2014

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Reaction to New York's plan to prohibit hydraulic fracturing, or fracking: ___ "Today's decision will shake the foundations of our nation's flawed energy policy, and we can only expect that it will give strength to activists nationwide who are fighting fracking in dozens of states and hundreds of cities and counties," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. ___ "The decision implies that at least 30 other states, Sen. Schumer and the Obama Administration's Environmental Protection Agency are wrong about the health impacts and do not care about the well-being of millions of American citizens, and discounts the successes that are occurring in Pennsylvania and elsewhere," said Republi

  • Fed to be 'patient' about a rate hike; stocks soar

    Updated: Wed, Dec 17, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is edging closer to raising interest rates from record lows given a strengthening U.S. economy. But it will be "patient" in deciding when to do so. That was the message sent Wednesday as the Fed ended a meeting amid heightened expectation about a forthcoming rate increase. At a news conference afterward, Chair Janet Yellen said she foresaw no rate hike in the first quarter of 2015. The Fed said in a statement that a "patient" approach to raising rates is consistent with its previous guidance that it would keep its key rate near zero for a "considerable time." Yellen said the strength of U.S. economic data and the level of inflation, not a calendar date, will dictate when it raises

  • Washington governor proposes carbon pollution cap

    Updated: Wed, Dec 17, 2014

    SEATTLE (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday proposed an ambitious cap-and-trade program to require the state's largest industrial polluters to pay for every ton of carbon they release. The proposal was part of a broader package that the Democrat said would help the state meet a 2008 mandate to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. It sets an overall limit on heat-trapping gases similar to a program that California launched nearly three years ago. "It is primarily and foremost an issue of health for our children and our grandchildren," said Inslee, who was flanked by Democratic lawmakers and other supporters at a news conference at REI's flagship store in Seattle. "It's not only a

  • New York to ban fracking; environmentalists cheer

    Updated: Wed, Dec 17, 2014

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Handing environmentalists a breakthrough victory, New York plans to prohibit fracking for natural gas because of what regulators say are its unexplored health risks and dubious economic benefits. New York, which overlies part of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation that has led to a drilling boom in Pennsylvania and other nearby states, has banned shale gas development since 2008, when the state began an environmental review of the drilling technique also known as hydraulic fracturing. Wednesday's announcement, though not final, means a ban is all but etched in stone.

  • Cash-strapped Indian airline SpiceJet grounded

    Updated: Wed, Dec 17, 2014

    NEW DELHI (AP) — Low-cost Indian airline SpiceJet grounded all flights Wednesday after oil companies stopped supplies of jet fuel to the financially beleaguered carrier. No SpiceJet flights had taken off Wednesday and passengers were making arrangements to shift to other airlines, a Delhi airport official said speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. India's civil aviation ministry Tuesday asked state-owned oil companies and airport operators to extend credit to SpiceJet for 15 days to prevent the airline from shutting down. But oil marketing companies are refusing to supply jet fuel to cash-strapped SpiceJet.