Oil and gas news is mostly encouraging

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Marine dealers located in the Gulf of Mexico region affected by the disastrous 2010 BP oil spill need to know they’re now eligible for damage claims from the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement.

On Dec. 5, the Supreme Court ruled against BP’s lawsuit to vacate the settlement agreement it had previously signed. That allows both businesses and residents to file claims that the spill cost them money and receive compensation from BP's multibillion-dollar settlement. BP had argued that the class of eligible claimants included those who had not been financially injured by the event. The justices essentially said: you signed the agreement, you live with it.

Notably, this ruling has established there is only a six-month window to file claims or forfeit any part of the settlement. So it’s time that affected businesses, especially our industry, assess money lost because of the spill and file their claim.

Keep in mind the business need not be located near the coast so long as it’s in an approved claims area: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, four counties in Texas or in designated regions along the Florida coast. The type of business and financial data is the basis for a settlement and it might not be necessary to prove a decline in revenue was solely because of the oil spill (i.e. economic conditions).

Slashing gas prices

The Department of Energy lowered its prediction for the 2015 average gas price, dropping it 35 cents to $2.60 a gallon. It’s the second time in two months the forecast has been cut by more than 30 cents a gallon. That would make it the lowest full-year average price since 2009.

If the agency is right, at that price consumers will find $100 billion (yes, that’s a “b”) in their pockets next year. Falling oil prices, now around $66 per barrel, and a rise in our domestic crude oil output to 9.3 million barrels per day next year are major factors, of course.

Couple that with the steady increase in drivers replacing old gas hogs with more fuel-efficient cars and it’s reasonable to expect the Department of Energy’s predictions to hold. It’s even more reasonable to predict that a portion of this huge economic stimulus will find its way to the marine industry in 2015.

Chicago E15 debacle

If the idiots on Chicago’s Finance Committee could fly, they’d be an airport! That’s the bottom line of reports that Chicago wants to require about 25 percent of its gas stations to sell E15 in less than a year.

By an 11-5 vote, the committee is sending the proposal to the full Chicago City Council. If approved there, Chicago would become the first major city in the country to require many of its gas stations to provide pumps for E15.

Alderman Ed Burke said in TV interviews that having E15 will be better for the environment and be cheaper for consumers, neither of which is true. He failed to mention the known damage to marine and small engines, the blend wall, the almost certain unsafe misfueling of boats and the cost of up-to-$250,000 that gas-station owners will face to install a pump and related equipment.

Moreover, with uncertain rulings by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding future amounts of ethanol in gas supplies and Congress looking at bills to revise or eliminate the Renewable Fuels Standard, it hard to understand the logic.

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