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Cadillac Seeks Brighter Future in New York - WSJ

Cadillac, long the king of Detroit's auto brands, is abandoning Motown.

General Motors Co. said on Tuesday that its struggling luxury brand will move 50 key employees and its headquarters to New York next year amid a wider effort to carve Cadillac out as a stand-alone business unit with more autonomy. Long run from Detroit, GM's brass feels being in Manhattan will help Cadillac better reach luxury buyers.

The move is being...

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The shipping business gets ready–with new fees–for the dawn of cleaner fuels « The Barrel Blog

The bunker fuel market in the Atlantic Basin is just a bit more than 100 days away from the next shift in the sulfur emissions cap on ships traveling within 200 miles of shore in North America and North West Europe, a designated Emissions Control Area. And some of its impact on costs is starting to show up.

After several months of vague rumblings about higher costs, we’re beginning to see a clearer picture of just how much more shippers expect to pay to comply with this stricter rule. MSC on Monday became what we believe is the third company to announce per-container surcharges intended to offset its expected higher fuel bills come January.

It follows Maersk Line, who announced the same thing in July, and a much smaller shipper called Rickmers-Linie, which said last week it would levy a surcharge but hasn’t said how much it will be.

Maersk’s move will put a $50-$150 surcharge on 40-foot containers to offset what it expects to be about $250 million in additional fuel costs from tighter emissions regulations set to take effect in January, it said Monday. Starting next year, ships traveling within 200 miles of shore in North America and the Baltic and North seas must limit sulfur emissions from fuel to 0.1%, down from 1%, under rules established by the International Maritime Organization.

It’s only natural to expect this sort of thing. Airlines, cab companies, food-distribution outfits — whenever their fuel bills rise, it’s the customer that uses their services who ultimately pays. Now that the two largest shippers have announced ECA-related fuel surcharges, I would expect the rest of the industry to follow suit with similar measures.

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What a few years ago seemed a long way off is now very real. For example, Energy Aspects, a European consultancy, wrote recently that low sulfur fuel oil demand — the type that would have been a staple to meet bunker fuel demand in the past-is expected to drop by 0.17 million barrels/day — 26,772 mt/day — in 2015 as vessels operating in Europe’s Emission Control Areas in the Baltic and North seas switch to 0.1% sulfur compliant fuels.

But what will they turn to? As my colleague Erduan Reid recently reported, various oil companies have come up with 0.1% sulfur blends, to be used instead of pricier marine diesel or marine gasoil, but they aren’t compatible with each other. In his reporting, he cited four companies: ExxonMobil, Litasco, Neste Oil and Cepsa. ” (A major problem is that the) 0.1% grades — based on the ones released so far — are not going to be compatible so you won’t be able to store them in the same tank aboard ship, you won’t be able to mix different grades and if you can’t get it at the next port then you’re stuck burning DMA (marine gasoil),” one source in the industry said.

Erduan also reported that the terms of warranties on ship engines in existing fleets also are expected to be an obstacle to the use of new blends of marine fuel.

(One other problem: some of those fuels are reported to be prone to a buildup of paraffinic wax. So while heating storage tanks at ports can deal with that problem, there might also be a need to heat tanks onboard ships, yet another cost or just another reason to stick with pricier marine gasoil).

Platts’ Jelena Grigorjeva reports that difficulty predicting prices is leading several ship owners to delay fixing their 2015 fuel supplies, potentially running the risk of allocating most of their fuel supplies next year to the spot market. That includes container ship owners which have predictable trade locations and typically negotiate their fuel supplies on long-term contracts.

One thing is obvious from these surcharges. While tankers may eventually turn to scrubbers to burn higher-sulfur fuel oil, or do a bigger retrofit that would allow LNG as a tanker fuel, for now, it’s going to be marine gasoil that fills this gap. And recently, in Rotterdam, that’s been running about $250/mt more than the price of high sulfur fuel oil. So the economic basis for the surcharges is clear.

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The role of oil and gas in the Scotland independence debate

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Nissan Appoints BMW Exec to Head Infiniti - WSJ

TOKYO—Nissan Motor Co. said Wednesday that it had named Roland Krüger, a BMW executive, as head of its Infiniti luxury car division, moving swiftly to fill one of the positions left vacant by the pending departure of Andy Palmer, a top Nissan manager.

Mr. Krüger, most recently a senior vice president at BMW, has served in a variety of positions with the German luxury car maker, including product planning and marketing posts and...

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The Oil Big Five: Some of the same, some of the new « The Barrel Blog

When we began the Oil Big Five posts, we had an idea of featuring brand-new items every single month. But that whole saying about people forgetting history being doomed to repeat it?

It came to mind this month when we were soliciting suggestions from our Platts oil editors and analysts for this month’s listing. Big issues don’t go away quickly, and in an industry as large and complicated as global oil, it’s doubly true.

That said, we do have several new issues on the list this month, as well as some follow-ups to previous topics. Be sure to comment here, on Facebook or on Twitter (use the hashtag #oilbig5), and we look forward to featuring your comments. Tell us what you’re thinking about, and here’s what we’re most focused on at the moment:

1. Libya’s return to production and exports

Our very first Oil Big Five listing included the topic of Libyan exports, and this time we’re looking at its crude production. Earlier this year, the country seemed on the path toward zero production, but in late August a spokesman for state-owned National Oil Corp. said production was reaching 630,000 b/d. Not all oil fields are back in operation yet, but the increases since July and the return of export terminals to state control could be a signal a turnaround. There is still considerable turmoil in the country, though, meaning the future of oil production there will remain an unanswered question for at least a while longer.

2. Oil basis WTI

August was not an easy month if you were long basis WTI, which opened the month around $100/b and closed near $93. The roughly 7% drop over the course of the month is significant—political turmoil from various parts of the globe (including Oil Big Five repeat offender Russia) and being right around the corner from maintenance season has put a lot of downward pressure on WTI. Despite the geopolitical climate, one analyst pointed out, there’s no supply disruption, just weak underlying fundamentals. Will maintenance season do anything to reverse the slide?

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3. The price of Dubai

The contango between first and third-month cash Dubai topped the $1/b mark this August, the first time since September 14, 2010, when it was at $1.25/b. On August 21, the contango was assessed at $1.21/b, up 29 cents/b on the day, widened as the sour Middle Eastern crude market followed structural weakness in the Brent market. Compounding that, Asian refiners have had lackluster demand for sour Middle Eastern crude due to other competing grades to pick from. And to add insult to injury, front-month cash Dubai had fallen 69 cents/b just a couple of days before, on August 19, dropping below the $100/b mark for the first time in 13 months and assessed at $99.80/b. What will September bring for the Dubai market?

4. Mexico: Ahead of schedule

Pemex is busy with Round Zero of its extensive energy industry reforms, and in mid-August the Mexican energy ministry awarded the state oil and gas monopoly most of the producing fields and exploration prospects it wanted before opening other fields to private enterprise. The announcement came a month earlier than expected, but President Ernesto Pena Niento said the timetable was sped up to more quickly provide results to citizens. Another news item out of Mexico in August: Pemex revised its annual production target for this year to its lowest level for three decades, down to 2.35 million b/d from 2.44 million b/d, and revised production data for the first half of the year due to miscalculations. And on August 29, Pemex announced its crude output target for 2015 will be 2.4 million b/d. We’re eager to see production numbers evolve, as well as the results of Round One in 2015, which will mark the first open upstream bidding round for licenses since the country’s nationalization of its oil industry in 1938.

5. US imports from Kurdistan

This is a sort of follow-up to last month’s United Kalavrvta topic (still floating in international waters off the coast of Texas, according to Platts vessel tracking software cFlow and shipping sources). In August, a US judge rejected the Iraqi central government’s claim to the ship’s cargo, and ruled the US does not have the jurisdiction to block the sale of Kurdish oil. In practical terms, it appears the US would not prevent any sale of Kurdish crude in the US. Now the question remains whether a US buyer will emerge, or if the cargo (or future cargoes of Kurdish crude) will end up at a US refinery. Anyone want to wager a guess?

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