Oil   Oil

New Alaska offshore impact statement could end drilling suspension

The Interior Department on Friday issued its latest environmental impact statement that seeks to end the years-long legal battle over a $2.7 billion Alaska offshore oil lease sale.

If the statement is finalized, it would end a suspension of activity on the leases and open the door to Shell to possibly resume exploration in the Chukchi Sea as soon as next summer.

Oil

Exxon, Chevron shrug off effect of low oil prices

NEW YORK (AP) — Falling oil prices hardly seem to be bothering the two biggest U.S. oil companies, but things could get tougher in the coming months.

Exxon and Chevron leaned on strong performances from their refining operations to increase profits in the third quarter despite plummeting global oil prices.

Early votes exceed 15 million _ but who benefits?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Early votes soared past 15 million across 31 states on Friday, an outpouring that is giving hopeful Republicans as well as nervous Democrats cause for optimism heading into the final weekend of a campaign with control of the Senate, the U.S. House and 36 governorships at stake.

Republicans pointed to a strong early-vote performance in Iowa as evidence that Joni Ernst was a step ahead in her bid to capture a Senate seat for the GOP. "I feel real good about it," said Gov. Terry Branstad, campaigning with the party's Senate hopeful as he sought a new term for himself, as well.

North Texas town voting on fracking ban

DENTON, Texas (AP) — Anti-fracking activists and campaigners backed by big oil and gas companies sparred outside of voting sites on the last day of early voting in a North Texas university town that's considering a ban on new permits for hydraulic fracturing.

The referendum is on Tuesday's ballot in Denton, which is about 40 miles north of Dallas. Though preexisting permits would remain valid, opponents have called it a wholesale ban on drilling.

Fish tale focus of Massachusetts governor campaign

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) — After a tight campaign, could the race for Massachusetts governor come down to a fish story?

Democrat Martha Coakley, trailing Republican Charlie Baker in recent polls, called on her opponent Friday to answer "legitimate questions" about a story he tearfully told during the campaign's final televised debate about a struggling fisherman who regretted pressuring his football-playing sons into a hard life at sea.

Oil

US rig count up 2 to 1,929

HOUSTON (AP) — The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. rose by two this week to 1,929, oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said.

The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,582 rigs were exploring for oil and 346 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,742 active rigs.

Coal miners stuck in the middle of Ukraine's war

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Glistening black sweat rolls down the spine of a beefy miner as he jackhammers bedrock along the shaft at the Chelyuskintsev coal mine in Donetsk, Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland.

Vitaly Khristich is one of hundreds of miners who each day brave the artillery fire that flares between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops to go down — deep, deep down — into the local mines. The mild-mannered man in his late 30s with a shy smile does this even though he has not been paid for months, even though his hometown has been torn up by war, and even though no one is really certain what government will eventually rule this territory — the central leadership in Kiev or the separatists who want to join Russia.

12 men trapped in Colombia coal mine collapse

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A collapse deep in a coal mine trapped 12 workers in Colombia and officials said Friday that any rescue will be difficult.

The country's Ministry of Mines and Energy said the collapse occurred at about 4 p.m. Thursday with a sudden burst of water into the mine in the northwestern state of Antioquia. It said contamination in the air in the tunnels was beyond officially permitted levels and officials were trying to pump it out.

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U.S. Congress Photo

Markey, Menendez warn on crude oil exports

Taking a position in line with a group of refiners, two prominent Northeastern Democratic senators late Thursday said lifting the ban on crude oil exports would hurt consumers. They were reacting to an Energy Information Administration analysis that found U.S. gasoline prices are dependent on international oil markets.

The finding had cheered advocates for ending the ban, who say U.S. exports would depress prices for international benchmark Brent crude, leading to gasoline price cuts.

But Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., made it clear in statements that they have not backed down from their opposition to a repeal of the 1975 ban.

Oil

Gasoline poised to drop below $3 for 1st time in 4 years

NEW YORK (AP) — The national average price of gasoline in the U.S. hit $3 a gallon Friday, and should soon drop below the benchmark for the first time since December 2010.

The price at the pump fell 33 cents in October, thanks mainly to plunging oil prices, according to AAA.

Landrieu revisits Hurricane Katrina in Senate race

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Six years ago, Sen. Mary Landrieu's effort to draw billions of dollars in federal disaster aid to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina helped keep her in office for a third Senate term.

Since then, Landrieu has lost much of that post-Katrina goodwill. The prominent Republican support she garnered in 2008 from local elected officials whose parishes and towns were ravaged by Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005 has withered amid sharper partisan divides.

Puerto Rico government looks to raise tax on oil

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico government officials said Thursday they are seeking a 68 percent increase in an oil tax to help sell up to $2.9 billion in bonds and strengthen one of the island's largest public corporations amid bankruptcy concerns.

Officials said the move also would help boost cash reserves at the Government Development Bank, which oversees the island's debt transactions, and allow for the refinancing of at least $1 billion in loans made to Puerto Rico's Highway and Transportation Authority.

California eyes $500 billion in water spending

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California's growing population and dwindling water require up to $500 billion in additional investment in water in coming decades, and new state fees for water users could be one way pay for it, a water plan released Thursday by the state's top water officials said.

John Laird, California secretary of natural resources, and Mark Cowin, head of the water resources department, spoke to reporters via telephone to mark the release of the plan, the latest update in more than a half-century of outlines for managing California's water.

Wolf-like animal seen roaming in northern Arizona

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — An animal resembling a gray wolf has been spotted roaming the far reaches of northern Arizona, officials said Thursday, and tests are planned to determine exactly what it is.

The animal has been seen and photographed in Kaibab National Forest north of Grand Canyon National Park with a collar similar to those used in a wolf recovery effort in the Northern Rockies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

Oil

Argentina OKs law aimed at luring oil investment

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina's Congress has passed an energy law aimed at luring foreign investment into its promising shale oil and gas.

The measure approved by the lower house Thursday cuts the minimum investment needed for energy companies to be exempt from import controls. It also sets new terms for concessions to 25 years for conventional energy and 35 years for shale.

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House Energy and Commerce Committee Photo

Crude ban repeal arguments 'over-ventilated,' Moniz says

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on Thursday threw more cold water on oil industry hopes that the Obama administration will quickly loosen the ban on crude oil exports.

Speaking at the Washington Ideas Forum conference, Moniz downplayed the impact of the industry campaign for a repeal and reiterated that the U.S. still imports more than 7 million barrels a day of oil.

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