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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Numbers down again
Continued European debt insecurity plays its hand again

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, May 25, 2010- Consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador may not be responsible for any debt problems in Europe but they certainly will be beneficiaries of the side-effects of it when the PUB adjusts prices this coming Thursday. That’s according to George Murphy, group researcher with the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices.

“Again this week, consumers in the province will benefit by the fall in oil prices brought on by the ongoing fiscal crises in some of the European Union nations. Consumers will see a drop of 2.82 cents a litre to heating and stove oil prices, a drop of 3.2 cents a litre to diesel fuels and a drop of 3.5 cents a litre on gasoline pricing. It’s great news for consumers and the tourism industry if prices continue downwards, but not so for the province’s treasury which must be taking a pounding, not only from the drop in oil royalties but also from a drop in taxation collected from motor and heating fuels,” Murphy said.

“Things aren’t getting any better for investors in oil either. Anyone hoping to see oil increase in price will be disappointed to know that recovery in oil prices probably won’t happen, barring any other outside influence, like OPEC instituting further production cuts, for example. Oil will only start to increase again once the problem Euro countries prove they can sustain economic growth alongside the paying down of their debt along with carrying out their own austerity programming. That may prove to be harder than one may think, and it’s showing the world right now why investors are flocking to the US dollar over commodities like oil and its refined products. Even now, the long-term outlook for oil shows it trading on the July futures markets at around $68 US per barrel. That spells trouble for any country profiting from high oil prices but should help bring on some actual North American economic recovery as disposable income goes back into consumers hands again.”


For more information, contact;

George Murphy
Group researcher/Member

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Prices continue to drop
Numbers so far show another drop coming Thursday

Just a short update before you hit the ponds today!..

After this weeks market activity, spot prices kept sliding along with the price of crude oil. Oil closed at $67.74 US a barrel. There's some trouble coming with the provinces treasury if this trend keeps up...

Five days of data out of seven days so far show the following for Thursday coming:

Heating and stove oils are down by 2.80 cents per litre.

Diesel is showing down by 3.1 cents a litre, and ...

Gasoline is down by 3.3 cents per litre.

If oil prices stay steady, or drop further come Monday and again on Tuesday, you can expect these type of price drops for Thursday coming.

Most of these numbers are a reflection of the slide in the Euro from last week that continues to play havoc in the world markets. In return, the problems in Europe are casting a lot of doubts about any continuing economic recovery.

I wonder is this the real start of the slide I was predicting a few weeks back in the Telegram and on the blog here?


George Murphy
Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Numbers down again this week
Consumers to get another break before the long weekend

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, May 18, 2010- Consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador will get a break for the may long weekend when the PUB moves to adjust prices this coming Thursday morning. That’s according to George Murphy of the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices.

“In spite of the Canadian dollar losing more ground to its US counterpart, oil prices slipped away enough that all numbers are showing down again for this week. I expect heating and stove oils to drop by 1.33 cents a litre, diesel to drop by 2.1 cents and gasoline to drop by just a penny. It’s the first time I have recorded a drop in prices before the May 24th long weekend in nearly four years.” Murphy said.

“The Canadian dollar still is close to parity to the US greenback but did lose against its compatriot as investors still sought protection away from commodities, choosing instead to hedge their bets in the “improving” economic news coming from the US. Still, there’s a huge distrust in some of the Euro nation’s ability to pay down on their debt by taking on added debt-load, and that also continues to play heavy in the markets with oil trading lower than $69 US for the first time since July 1st, 2009. As a result, I feel that there’s still a lot of distrust of the markets out there on the part of investors.

“All models still show that these economic factors have oil playing out at where it presently sits, or close to it, for the summer. That’s barring any unforeseen conditions playing into the markets. From the looks of it now, the provinces treasury may take a beating if oil prices stay low, but prices may be low enough that the important tourism season may make up for some of the lost revenue. Right now, I believe consumers care less about the provinces treasury. They get to put a little more disposable income in their pockets and that’s more important to any ongoing economic recovery.”


For more information, contact;

George Murphy
Group researcher/Member
Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices

Monday, May 17, 2010

Summer driving season running out of gas?

From the look of the markets and the huge amount of distrust in some Euro nations ability to pay down their debt, we just might dodge the season of high gas prices yet!

Some analysts out there (...that follow my are also reflecting on the fact that we're already at the start of the summer driving season and we haven't seen that significant run-up in prices leading up to the start of the US Memorial Day holiday. As a matter of fact, spot pricing for all petroleum products I measure went below two bucks a US gallon for the first time in months just today.

With the exception of last week when the numbers started dropping, heating, stove oils, diesel and gasoline spot prices have mostly stayed steady on the markets since the start of February.

That's a good sign to the consumer but it's a bad one for Big Oil.

Forced to increase capacity again as the end of maintenance programs brings refineries back online, capacity has again increased from the historic low of close on 77 per cent to reach almost 88 per cent this past week. Margins are being squeezed and that means a drop in profits on the refining end.

That also means more gasoline back in the markets ,and with an excess of crude oil the possibility that there's an overabundance of supply out there. The imports of gasoline also continue to add up. Gasoline supplies are about seven per cent over what they were this same time last year with demand a paltry two per cent over that of last year, in spite of prices below that of 2008 for the same time frame.

With economic and debt troubles overseas, there simply is no incentive or reason why prices will increase anytime soon, irregardless of what some of the hurricane watchers are calling for, something in the area of nine major storms that could disrupt imports.

In other words, I believe that we have hit the peak of summer prices already.

Numbers so far...
Here's what I have so far for this regulation period, keeping in mind that we lost a good three cents against the US dollar over that last six or seven days:
  • Heating and stove oils are down by 89/100ths of a cent.
  • Diesel is down by 1.5 cents a litre, and...
  • Gasoline shows down by 6/10ths so far.

I'll be back around 9 p.m tomorrow night, a little earlier than normal.

I'll see you then!



Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blowout prevention:
How regular are inspections done?

Word from the Washington Post this morning that a key piece of equipment, the blowout preventer, had several flaws that possibly caused the major oil leak, the loss of life aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig off the coast of Louisiana.

The blowout preventer problems that were found include a dead battery, key hydraulic leaks and a cutting tool that was not strong enough to cut through some important joints in the piping system used.

Yes. several problems indeed, which brings us to our own offshore inspection mechanism. Is there a regularly scheduled program of inspections being done on the blowout preventers used in our own offshore and who does those same inspections?

If there is data received on the state of the status of blowout preventers used offshore here, then where is that data kept? The data on the blowout preventer that was used on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico was lost when the rig sank after an explosion aboard that killed eleven workers.

Captain Mark Turner is going to have his hands full with oil spill response questions that are probably outside the scope of oilspill rsponse. I don't think that one man can do this job, let alone examine the questions that need to be asked about "preventative measures" on deep ocean and offshore drilling.

More importantly, when it comes to offshore drilling, it seems to be a case of one government departments failure to communicate with another. The story goes on to say that the Minerals Management Service, a federal department, knew as early as 2004 that some blowout preventers didn't have enough power to cut through key joints in piping systems. What does the federal or provincial government or the Canada Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board here know about such testing, if any? Do his terms of reference cover looking at governments role in offshore safety and exploration?

Yes, a whole lot of questions and a lot of answers needed before we can say there's an added degree of safety to drilling on our own offshore.

Without any answers right now, we're more of a disaster waiting to happen...

I'll be in touch!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Break for consumers on the way
European Union money problems result in lower prices
Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, May 11, 2010- The European Union is having financial problems and it looks like consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador are going to benefit from that when the PUB adjusts prices this coming Thursday. That news comes from George Murphy, group researcher with the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices.

What the numbers say
“Numbers show a strong downwards direction based on the data I compile on a weekly basis. Consumers will be looking at 3.36 cents a litre down on heating and stove oils, 3.5 cents a litre off diesel prices and a good drop of 4.5 cents a litre down on gasoline this coming Thursday morning.” Murphy said.

The big reason why prices will drop this Thursday
“Big money troubles in some of the European Union nations, particularly Greece, Spain Portugal and Italy, has resulted in a heavy investment in US dollars and that drove oil prices down in a hurry. In spite of the European Union’s support of a loan program that amounts to 750 million Euros, oil still did not show strong growth as a result. Investors remain cagey about the scope of debt and they’re doubtful that the aid package is sufficient to bring relief to the problem nations. All the data and the financial news seems to indicate lower oil prices will remain for some time in the face of doubts about any European economic recovery in the short term. Some Euro nations are going to be forced to take some very tough austerity measures to get out of debt and the citizens of those countries are the ones that are going to have to pay. That means cuts to consumers spending are on the way. Petroleum products are, in general, the first consumer commodity to take the hit. I don’t think we’ve seen the bottoming out of oil prices yet.

Inventories keep building
“This is supposed to be the big lead-up to the traditional start of the summer driving season and the numbers are just not there to say that prices will go up anytime soon. There has been a strong build in all refined product inventories, enough to say that demand remains flat in spite of the demand numbers being up just slightly from last year. Refiner capacity is also up again and that means refiners are meeting consumer needs right now. If Big Oil wants increased prices, they have a problem. They will have to reign in on production and that means the possibility of hindering any economic recovery.”

Louisiana spill could be big for green programming
“If drilling in deep water is becoming a concern, it may very well prove to be beneficial to green energy advocates and green technologies. The simple fact of the dangers that result in oil spills in deep waters have become readily apparent in the past few days, particularly in light of the loss of the rig off the coast of Louisiana and eleven souls aboard. So far, the leaching has not stopped and upwards on 4 million gallons of oil have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico resulting in the loss of income of hundreds of people dependent upon the other ocean resources, like shrimp. It has also cost British Petroleum (BP) close to $350 million in resulting expenses so far, and much more in legal settlements when it is all over. There is good cause for governments everywhere to develop green programs to help thwart offshore drilling of there is that much of a danger. Indeed, Big Oil is now forced to look at its own security measures as well as its own investments in offshore drilling, not only because of expediency but to attract more investment in programs that are deemed to be safe to carry out. BP probably learned this lesson when its own share price tanked this week Barack Obama has already placed a moratorium on new exploration licenses to explore the safety concerns that offshore drilling there will mean and also to ensure accurate safety measures are in place in the event of another disaster unlike that in the Gulf. Perhaps it’s a pause that we as a province might also want to take. The possibility that we may circumvent green programming because of the use of crude oil products and its benefits to government treasuries may be reason enough to ask the question of us; ‘Is offshore drilling for crude oil worth it?’ ”


For more information, contact;

George Murphy
Group researcher/Member
Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices

Monday, May 10, 2010

Should we rush into deep water development
or pause for thought like Barack Obama did?

Consider the case of the drilling program about to start a mere 400kms off the coast of our province and then consider the plight off the fisherman now sitting on the shores of Louisiana.

Consider as well the consumer need and our thirst for oil and we have an interesting debate about to ensue, and not just in North America, for the need for oil is great and the prize is found to be wanting everywhere.

In the Niger delta region lies proof that if Big Oil are left to develop a resource without restrictions, then the people are apt to be the ones to be left to pay the devil's pot. The area is now rank with the wanton destruction that careless development brings with it. The people there are also left to fight over their rights to education and other benefits from a resource that is both being squandered and spilled onto their grounds at the same time. The environmental damage will probably last a lifetime for most, long after the last Nigerian underground wealth has been drained away. Most spills are occurring because of a failed policy of regular, ongoing inspections by the Nigerian government.

Yes, accidents happen and sometimes people die in their pursuit of the black gold flowing in above-ground Nigerian pipelines. Sometimes, in their own quest for wealth and a piece of the Nigerian Light treasure, and far after they have been ignored and exploited by their own government and Royal Dutch Shell complicity, an explosion happens. In their thirst for their fair share of the wealth, the people there try tapping into a pipeline and a lot of souls go up with the wealth they try to tap into.

Meanwhile, there have been numerous cases of oil spills in the Gulf of Ginea region, the largest of all of them, according to Wikipedia, being a 400 million barrel spill (?) that occurred when a Texaco platform there went up in smoke. Since then, almost ten per cent of the mangrove swamp areas have failed to come back, a place that also was the harvesting grounds of fishermen. Almost no attempt was made to clean up the area and help bring back lost heritage and industry.

And all of the above is part of a big problem we have found ourselves stepping into when we allow deep ocean drilling off our coast. To be fair, I don't think any of us here in Newfoundland and Labrador thought about that point before the Orphan Basin was opened up for exploration licenses some time ago. All we really heard about was the fact that the oil out there could bring big bucks to the provinces treasury. we never heard about it, that is, until Louisiana...

The oil spills into the Gulf of Mexico there at the rate of 5000 barrels per day, and that might be a low-ball figure. The detergents and chemicals the company is using is being applied under the waves where, sight unseen, the disaster is only visible to some. The real damage may be for years to come to a shrimp fishery that may never come back, and that's what should give Newfoundland and Labradorians some pause for thought.

What if, like the law commercial says...What if a spill unlike the Louisiana incident, happens because the Sea Rose went up in flames? It may be a little more accessible being just 220 meters down but the Orphan drilling will occur something in the order of 2800 meters down. What happens if an accident happens there and how will we even find out if something in the drilling process goes wrong?

As Barack Obama was wanton to do just last week when he called a halt to the immediate issuance of drilling licences, perhaps we too can also take the hint and review the processes of prevention of spills and the processes by which we can turn off the spigot if a disaster happens in deep water...

Perhaps, if no remedy can be found to safe deep water drilling and safety technologies, we should not issue licences for drilling and exploration in deep offshore areas in the first place. Perhaps, like Obama, the province should take a pause for some more thought...

Perhaps an investment in greener technologies instead just might curve our thirst for the black gold in the first place...

Right now, it just looks like a whole lot better idea. Right now, the only positive thing to come out of the spill off the coast of Louisiana is the fact that we're forced to re-examine what"green" really means and we're forced to examine just how deep consumption of black gold really goes.



Saturday, May 08, 2010

To keep you up to date
Just thought I would drop a note to everyone who reads the blog here, that I have been tracking a substantial drop in all fuel prices, all as a result of this past week's ongoing " financial crisis" in the European Union.
  • Furnace and stove oils are down by 3.8 cents a litre.
  • Diesel is down so far by 3.4 cents per litre, and...
  • Gasoline is down by 4.6 cents a litre.

We'll keep in touch about the last two business days to come and keep the fingers crossed for further drops in prices...We hope!



Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Most numbers are up
Oil hits the highest in two years on Gulf concerns

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, May 4, 2010- Consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador will see a slight increase in most fuel prices when the PUB moves to adjust prices this coming Thursday. That’s according to George Murphy, group researcher with the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices.

What’s in the numbers?
“The numbers show a little volatility occurring in the markets over the last week, most notably when gasoline traded high on the possibility of s supply and shipping problem caused by the recent spill off the coast of Louisiana. The result was watching oil trade at a new two year record and related commodities also increasing. Numbers show gasoline to increase by just 1.1 cents a litre, heating and stove oils to increase by 1.78 cents and diesel to rise by 2.9 cents a litre”, Murphy said.

Two countries play a significant role in today’s price drop
“I don’t expect numbers to remain high for long however. There is still an underlying deep concern out there that the Greek debt crisis will spread to other Euro nations and that has almost ripped the bottom out of oil and resulted in investment in the US dollar rather than the dependence on crude oil Chinese production figures for consumer commodities are also down and that was probably linked to Chinese government efforts to slow down the economy from overheating and causing widespread inflationary problems there, efforts that appear to be taking hold. Of course, if production is down, so will be the demand for oil there.”

API data shows a crude oil inventory increase
The American Petroleum Institute (API) also released an industry report today that showed an increase in crude oil and related refined product that is permeating the marketplace right now. Their report showed an added three million barrels of crude oil while refined commodities like gasoline and distillates also showed “up” over the last week.
The US Energy Information Administration will release its report tomorrow and it is expected that their report will also provide the impetus to see a further drop in crude oil prices.

Canadian dollar loses ground
“The Canadian dollar has also factored in to this weeks numbers, losing two cents against its US counterpart in recent days. That should give Canadians some reflection on how much our dollar is linked to energy prices. The loss in strength may be good for some industries but it has cost consumers a little better than 1.5 cents at the pumps and the heating truck level.

Tires for Quebec?
“Why is there no ongoing experimentation with the use of tires as a possible additive in road construction here in Newfoundland and Labrador? Here we have the basis for a good binder in addition to asphalt and we’re not taking advantage of the recycling process. Instead, we are taking a potentially invaluable resource and shipping it out of the province where we’re causing a larger problem by having tires burned across the gulf in Quebec as a source of energy instead.
In the road making process, ground up tires are both used as an aggregate to the stone that is used for roadmaking, or is melted down and mixed with the asphalt as the binder to keep the aggregate together. It gives a longer life to roads, especially in colder climates, which means less maintenance and also ensures a steady supply to keep the cost of asphalt needs down to a minimum. Asphalt prices have skyrocketed in addition to crude oil prices.
Why haven’t Memorial University or the College of the North Atlantic been asked to do a study of the possible use of recycled tires in road construction here in the province?”


For more information, contact;

George Murphy
Group researcher/Member
Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices