Get Ready for Higher Gas Prices

U.S. mainland-based refineries

Existing U.S. mainland-based refineries have difficulty competing with new refineries in developing countries such as India and China as well as in the Middle East (where the tentacles of U.S. environmental restrictions don't reach) and we rarely build new ones. Environmental groups have asked a state judge in South Dakota "to strike down a state permit that would allow ... the first new U.S. oil refinery built since 1976." It would "process 400,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands crude oil each day into low-sulfur gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and liquid petroleum gas."

Construction had been delayed because securing financing had been difficult due to the recession and because of a previous appeal from grant of an original state permit.

The board issued the revised permit in September, approving changes to reflect updated national air quality standards and new pollution-control technology. The revised permit also gives Hyperion until March 2013 to start construction.

After the hearing, Hyperion Vice President Preston Phillips said efforts are progressing to secure financing and an oil supply for the project. "We have to perfect this air permit before we can finalize those aspects," he said.

In Thursday's hearing, Graham [counsel for the environmental groups] also argued that the board was wrong to extend the deadline for construction to begin. The original permit expired last February, and Hyperion should wait to seek a new permit based on the latest standards and technology when it is ready to begin construction, he said.

The tactic of delaying regulatory approval for as long as possible, then attacking the approval in court and demanding that the regulatory process begin anew has unfortunately been effective. It doubtless accommodates desires for long and profitable legal careers.

Refineries in the U.S. with capacities of 949,000 BPD recently closed or are for sale while others have curtailed production due to "economics." Meanwhile,

HOUSTON, Jan 20 (Reuters) - U.S. oil companies are bracing for a potential strike by refinery workers and have plans to keep plants operating if negotiations which began this week for a new labor deal break down.

Representatives of the United Steelworkers union and oil companies began meeting to hammer out a new three-year national contract before current contract expires at 12 a.m. on Feb 1.

In September, the head of the USW negotiating team, union International Vice President Gary Beevers, said without improvements in health and safety protections in the new contract, USW members would walk off their jobs.

The happy land of Venezuela

So how are things in Glocca Morra?

Pretty good.