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Gas prices nationwide holding steady
by Daniel J. Graeber
(UPI) Jul 18, 2017

Demand pressures could lead to higher gasoline prices across the United States, though data from motor club AAA show relative stability at the national level.

AAA reports a national average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $2.26 for Tuesday, relatively unchanged from last week. The price at the pump is slightly less than it was at this point last month and is about 2 percent, or 5 cents per gallon, less than it was on this date in 2016.

The motor club said that, with the summer travel season well under way, some demand pressures started to emerge last week. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported last week that nation-wide inventories for gasoline declined 1.6 million barrels, which puts the national level at 4 million barrels below what it was this time last year.

AAA spokesperson Jeanette Casselano said more than half of the gas stations in the country are posting gas at the national average or less.

"If, however, demand keeps pace and stocks continue to draw down at sizable levels, gas prices are likely to increase this month into next," she said in a statement.

The West Coast remains the most expensive market in the country, though gas prices there were relatively stable. California gas prices continue to hold below $3 per gallon, posting $2.91 for Tuesday. That comes even though regional refineries are running below peak capacity because of regular maintenance. That means more relief could be coming for area drivers once those refineries return to normal later this week.

Drivers in the Great Lakes are still coping with the most volatile market. Two weeks ago, the area saw steep declines in gas prices, though that's reversing course this week. Michigan gas prices last week dropped 8 cents per gallon, but erased half of that overnight. That comes even as regional gasoline stockpiles are higher than last year.

Analysis emailed to UPI from price-tracker GasBuddy said that, because of the regional volatility, the Great Lakes states are usually the first to respond to movements in crude oil prices. Last week, oil prices gained 5 percent and that spike is starting to show up at the pump.

In the week ahead, a survey of analyst sentiments from S&P Global Platts found gasoline inventory levels are expected by fall by 700,000 barrels, less than half the draw from last week. Meanwhile, U.S. oil production continues to offset efforts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to balance the market with coordinated declines in output.

"As the rebalance waiting game continues, drivers are likely to continue benefitting at the pump with cheaper summer gas prices," AAA reported.

The federal government estimated a national average price for gas at $2.38 per gallon for the summer driving season, which runs from April through December. That's lower than the forecast from April and, if realized, would be the second-lowers price during the summer since 2005.

Sucking up spilt oil
Washington DC (SPX) Jul 18, 2017
Spilt crude oil has repeatedly polluted and even destroyed marine ecosystems. An effective measure would be to remove spilt oil slicks by absorption into a separable solid phase. As Indian scientists now report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, congelation of the oil to a rigid gel within impregnated cellulose and scooping the particles out is possible. Marine oil spills are disasters that ... read more

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