February 23, 2015 |
The Philadelphia region's petroleum refineries, many of which faced closure four years ago, have experienced an economic revival, thanks to the arrival of a virtual pipeline of domestic crude oil by rail. But the same petroleum from North Dakota's Bakken oil field has been implicated in a succession of dramatic North American rail accidents in the last two years, most recently Monday in West Virginia. Video images of orange fireballs erupting from crumpled tank cars near the village of Mount Carbon last week reignited concerns that the same thing could happen here.
February 20, 2015 |
A HUGE COLUMN of fire shot skyward - then fanned out in all directions at once, becoming a massive fireball that seemed to hover over tiny Mount Carbon, just downriver from Boomer, W.Va., which is officially a "census-designated place" of 813 people. Suddenly, Monday afternoon's winter sky glowed a nightmarish fire-bright orange - and well into the night it remained a massive warning flare, visible to folks miles away. Officials ordered hundreds to evacuate their homes. Witnesses told reporters the usual things ("like an atomic bomb," "wrath-of-God")
February 3, 2015 |
The drop in oil prices may have an upside: Historically, the S&P 500's performance is mixed during a radical oil-price sell-off, but it rebounds an average of 23 percent 12 months later. So notes Chuck Widger, founder and chairman of Brinker Capital, who generally keeps a low profile despite his $17 billion investment firm in Berwyn and his long performance record. Widger has a new book out: Personal Benchmark (Wiley, 2014), coauthored with behavioral-finance expert Daniel Crosby.
January 30, 2015 |
As Vetri chef Alicia Walter prepared for a recent seven-week trip to study olive oil production in the Mediterranean, she was warned that it wouldn't be pretty. The industry had a rough year, blamed on too much rain in some areas and not enough in others. An olive-eating fruit fly had ravaged crops in Italy and left a dent in Greek olive orchards, as well. Still, she didn't realize how bleak the situation was until she walked into the groves and talked with the devastated families who relied on olive oil for their livelihood.
January 26, 2015 |
The slowdown in domestic oil drilling is spilling over into the Marcellus Shale natural-gas region. Several large drilling companies have announced plans to reduce 2015 capital-spending plans in Appalachia in response to low energy prices. Some producers and service companies have already announced layoffs. "There's a tightening of capital," said David J. Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the industry trade group. "Cap-ex [capital expenditure] programs have declined fairly significantly here in the first quarter.
January 16, 2015 |
How long will we enjoy gas below $2 a gallon, or oil below $50 a barrel? "I wouldn't bet on more than a year," Philip Rinaldi, who runs Philadelphia Energy Solutions and its big refinery, storage, and shipping complex in South Philadelphia, told Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce members at their yearly economic forecast breakfast Wednesday. But, like a Wall Street trader, Philadelphia could benefit from Marcellus Shale gas and oil whether world prices rise or fall, Rinaldi added.
January 13, 2015 |
If you're brave enough to think oil stocks have been fairly repriced, here are some ideas on how to play the sector. First, here's an exchange-traded fund that broadly represents the energy industry: Energy Select Sector SPDR (symbol: XLE). Its top holdings include ExxonMobil, Chevron, Schlumberger, ConocoPhillips, and EOG Resources. Ernie Cecilia, chief investment officer of Bryn Mawr Trust, instead is buying shares in individual low-cost producers such as EOG and ExxonMobil, he says, as the latter company "can make money with oil even at $40 a barrel.
January 4, 2015 |
American Airlines and merger partner US Airways could enjoy more than $2.5 billion in "tailwinds" in 2015 because Philadelphia's dominant airline does not hedge its jet-fuel costs and does not have profit-sharing with employees, a Wall Street analyst said Friday. American is one of the few major airlines that does not buy hedges, which are futures contracts that lock in fuel prices in advance. Declining oil prices should be worth at least $1.3 billion to American, airline analyst Hunter Keay of Wolfe Research L.L.C.
December 30, 2014 |
Sometimes it seems as if America, at 238 years old, is suffering from a sort of midlife crisis that has it questioning its strength and leadership. Questioning is fine; few are pleased with Washington these days. But it was more troubling to hear some critics suggest that President Obama should be more like Russian President Vladimir Putin. Some were apparently impressed by the machismo Putin displayed in invading Ukraine even though it was morally wrong. Much of that sentiment evaporated as casualties mounted in the war Putin incited to keep Ukraine firmly in Russia's orbit rather than the European Union's.
December 23, 2014 |
Ain't it grand that oil prices are dropping? Yes and no. For consumers, yes, the 40 percent drop, down to $55 or so per barrel, amounts to a massive income boost. Each penny drop in gas prices at the pump equals $1.4 billion a year in extra disposable income, according to Bill Dunkelberg, professor of economics at Temple University. The best part, he says, is that American dollars aren't leaving the country like they did in 2008, when $150-per-barrel oil enriched OPEC nations. "Now we're going to start collecting those oil revenues here when prices rebound," he adds.