By:  Bob van der Valk

Since October 16, 2013 West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil decreased in price from $102.49 to $94.11 a barrel, for an 8.2 percent loss, with more to come on the horizon.  Good news for consumers with oil companies having enough on hand in cash reserves to make it through yet another pricing adjustment as happened in July 2008.

The question on the Oil Producing Export Countries (OPEC) controlling the world’s energy market has been resolved.  It has been exactly 40 years since Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC imposed an embargo on exports of crude oil.  Since 1973 US consumers have seen gasoline prices go from $.369 to almost $5 per gallon.

oils-bearish-patternCrude oil has rallied back up over to $100 a barrel since the early days of 2009 when West Texas Intermediate crude oil bottomed out at $32 a barrel.  Since then the price has been influenced by wars and rumors of wars as well as being threatened by domestic terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this year.


More downside should be expected for crude oil and the dive is just beginning now. Major technical support lies at $60-$62, and oil may not bottom until it falls to as low as $40

The weekly Department of Energy inventory report shows a rise for seven straight weeks.  Last week, they rose 5.2 million barrels. Over the past four weeks, inventories have risen by 22 million barrels, the second largest increase since February 2009.

DOE Statistics for the Week Ending November 1, 2013:

DOE Stocks 11/1/2013 10/25/2013 11/2/2012 Stocks v. Last Week Stocks v. Year Ago
Crude Oil (Excluding SPR) 385.4  383.9   374.8  1.5 10.6
Gasoline 210.0 213.8  202.4 -3.8  7.6
Distillates 117.8 122.7 118.1  -4.9 -0.3
Propane/Propylene 62.1  64.8 73.6 -2.7  -11.5
Total Petroleum Products 731.5 741.4 724.2 -9.9 7.3
Total Petroleum Stocks 1,116.9  1,125.3 1,099.0  -8.4 17.9
Natural Gas (Bcf)* 3,814 3,779 3,926 35 -112

Table covers crude oil and principal products.  Other products, including residual fuel oil and “other oils” are not shown, and changes in the stocks of these products are reflected in “Total Petroleum Products”. Statistics Source: Energy Information Administration “Weekly Petroleum Status Report” available at

With domestic oil production on the rise, the good news is North America will become energy secure by the end of 2014. OPEC has slowly been losing control on pricing the world’s crude oil requirements.

Bob van der Valk lives in Terry, Montana and is the Senior Editor of the Bakken Oil Business Journal as well as Fuel-pricing Analyst for US petroleum distributors and retail station owners. He can be contacted at:


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WALLER NICOLE YVONNEFoul Play Suspected in Valentine’s Day Disappearance

HELENA – On February 14, 2013, Nicole Waller left Fairview, Montana to return home to her three young children in Kalispell.  When Waller, 32, didn’t return, family members reported her missing; Waller’s vehicle, a maroon 1999 Ford Expedition, was eventually found on the side of Highway 2 outside of Poplar.  Although an extensive search was conducted, Waller was never found.  Nearly ten months later, Waller has still not been located, and investigators are asking anyone with information to contact them.

“Mothers traditionally don’t abandon their children,” noted Agent Mark Hilyard of the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation.  “This is clearly not normal behavior and has every indication of a homicide.”

Although law enforcement won’t go into details of the investigation, a number of factors point to foul play.  Agent Hilyard references Waller’s abandoned car as an example.  “Someone witnessed suspicious activity taking place. It also appeared odd that her children’s pet guinea pigs were still in the vehicle when it was recovered,” Agent Hilyard said.  He urged the public for assistance with the missing woman’s disappearance, pointing out that often a single observation that someone may consider unimportant can break a case open.

Agent Hilyard added, “There are three children and a family looking for some closure to their loved one’s disappearance.  And there’s someone out there who knows the truth.”

Anyone with information regarding Nicole Waller’s disappearance may anonymously contact Agent Mark Hilyard in the Division of Criminal Investigation at the Montana Department of Justice by calling (406) 791-2709 or the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office at (406) 758-5600.


Contact:  Anastasia Burton
406-444-9869 |

Current slate of locations skips coal country altogether

HELENA – Today, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox asked U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy to add Montana to the agency’s listening sessions on coal regulations. Yesterday, the EPA began its series of listening sessions scheduled to take place in large urban centers: New York City, Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Boston, San Francisco, Washington DC, Dallas, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

“Montanans care about proposed federal regulations impacting their livelihood, their public schools, their utility rates, their communities, and their environment, and they deserve to be heard on this,” Attorney General Tim Fox said. “It’s mind boggling that the EPA isn’t holding a single session in a state that relies directly on coal for affordable energy, family-wage jobs, and economic development. It’s as if the regulators don’t want to hear from the hardworking folks who will suffer most under the onerous regulations they’re considering. The EPA needs to come here to Montana – to a place like Colstrip or Billings – and listen to what our citizens have to say.”

The listening sessions are designed to gather public input on the agency’s implementation of Rule 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to regulate emissions from power plants. The proposed regulations are targeted at the very coal-fired power generation that provides Montanans with reliable, affordable electricity. Since Montana has more recoverable coal reserves than any other state, the regulations could be all the more devastating.

“The EPA shouldn’t be afraid of listening to viewpoints they won’t hear in New York City,” Fox said.

In his letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy, Attorney General Fox echoed President Obama and members of his administration in calling for an “all of the above” approach to energy policy. “EPA’s recently announced proposals run contrary to a balanced energy approach,” Fox told McCarthy.

Read Attorney General Fox’s letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy here.

Contact: John Barnes
406-444-2031 |