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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Greenland halts new oil drilling licences

Category : Business

Government reluctant to hand out new permits while exploration under existing licences will be subject to more scrutiny

The new government in Greenland has slapped a moratorium on the granting of fresh offshore oil and gas drilling licences in the country’s Arctic waters in a move which has been welcomed by Greenpeace but will disappoint the industry.

The ban came as one of the Arctic drilling pioneers, the British company Cairn Energy, failed in a bid to keep an injunction on any protests organised against it by Greenpeace.

A coalition agreement signed by prime minister Aleqa Hammond and others inside a newly elected administration said it would be “reluctant” to hand out any new permits, while exploration under existing licences could only be done under much heavier safety scrutiny. Oil industry experts in London said that a new licensing round that would have opened up waters off the north east of Greenland would not now take place.

Jon Burgwald, Arctic campaigner for Greenpeace in Denmark, said it was good news for everyone: “Until now, the people of Greenland have been kept in the dark about the enormous risks taken by the politicians and companies in the search for Arctic oil. Now it seems that the new government will start taking these risks seriously. The logical conclusion must be a total ban on offshore oil drilling in Greenland.”

Thecoalition agreement makes clear a parliamentary body will be established to scrutinise offshore operations while promising oil spill safety plans will be made publicly available in future.

Greenland, with Alaska and Russia, has been at the forefront of oil company hopes to uncover an estimated 25% of the world’s remaining oil and gas reserves lying under and around the Arctic ocean.

Early drilling operations by Cairn and Shell infuriated environmentalists worried about global warming and concerned that the pristine and icy waters of the far north could be irreparably damaged by any oil spills.

A decision by the former Greenland government and Cairn not to make public any spill response plan caused particular concern and led to Cairn’s Edinburgh headquarters being taken over briefly by protestors dressed as polar bears.

A legal injunction obtained by Cairn against Greenpeace International was lifted on Wednesday although a parallel one against Greenpeace UK, which organised the protest back in 2011, remains in place. Cairn spent $1.4bn (£1bn) drilling without commercial success off Greenland while Shell has just been forced to drop plans to drill again off Alaska this summer after it ran into a series of technical problems in the region during 2012.

Hammond’s Siumut party came to power this month following an election campaign dominated by a debate over the activities of foreign investors and concerns among the 57,000 population that Greenland’s future could be dictated by the demands of potentially polluting new industries rather than traditional Inuit fishing and hunting.

Pemex blast caused by methane gas

Category : Business

Manmade explosives ruled out as cause of blast that killed at least 37 people at Mexican oil company facility

A deadly blast that killed at least 37 people at Mexican state oil monopoly Pemex’s headquarters in Mexico City was caused by a build-up of gas, the government has said on Monday.

The attorney general, Jesus Murillo, said no trace of explosives was found at the site of the disaster, the latest in a string of safety lapses to hit the oil monopoly. President Enrique Pena Nieto is seeking to push through a major overhaul of Pemex.

“We have been able to determine that the explosion was caused by an accumulation of gas in the basements of the building,” Murillo said. The was believed to be methane.

“This caused a defect in the structure of the floors, which first were pushed upward, and then fell, which was the main cause of death in the building,” he said.

The blast last Thursday afternoon in a building at the Pemex complex in downtown Mexico City prompted speculation of sabotage as well as renewed criticism of the oil company’s safety record.

For years a source of national pride, Pemex has proven stubbornly resistant to change. The company has become a touchstone for Mexico’s capacity for economic reform since oil output began to lag the performance of other major producers.

Friends of the Earth says George Osborne creating ‘bonanza’ for oil firms

Category : Business

Tax breaks worth almost £1bn lead FoE to accuse the chancellor of ‘bending over backwards to help the big oil barons’

Friends of the Earth has accused George Osborne of creating a bonanza for Britain’s big energy companies by providing almost £1bn of tax breaks designed to boost North Sea oil and gas production.

FoE said the chancellor was going against the advice of Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, in providing subsidies designed to ensure “every last drop of oil” is extracted from the UK’s rapidly declining reserves.

It said Osborne had hugely expanded field allowances, introduced by Alistair Darling in 2009 to encourage production from “small or technically challenging new fields”. These were worth £300m to the sector over the past three years.

David Powell, FoE’s economics campaigner, said in the current financial year new field allowances had been created and an existing one expanded. As a result, tax breaks since the 2012 budget were worth £864m to the industry and were likely to rise further as a result of the field allowance to Dana Petroleum for its $1.6bn oil and gas development east of Shetland, announced in late 2012.

“With almost £1bn of tax breaks lavished upon them this financial year alone, it’s bonanza time for dirty gas and oil,” Powell said. “George Osborne is bending over backwards to help the big oil barons, but getting him to support renewable energy is like trying to squeeze blood from a stone.”

North Sea oil production has fallen sharply since the 1990s, but the high price of oil on global markets has made uneconomic oilfields commercially viable. The tax breaks exempt the industry from a certain amount of tax from particular fields, helping to offset the £2bn-a-year supplementary charge that Osborne imposed, to the fury of oil and gas companies, in his 2011 budget.

A Treasury spokeswoman said: “The government’s package of changes to the oil and gas tax regime is expected to stimulate billions of pounds of investment, supporting jobs, delivering revenue for taxpayers and helping ensure we make the most of this valuable national asset. The changes should be considered in the context of the oil and gas tax regime as a whole, including the supplementary charge, which was increased at budget 2011.”

Oil and gas revenues were more than £11bn in 2011-12, but are expected to decline to £4.5bn by 2017-18.

Powell said Osborne was using tax breaks to “stimulate harmful activity” regardless of the amount it brought in to the exchequer. The Treasury had already placated the industry by promising to legislate for a fixed rate of tax relief on decommissioning oil and gas rigs, he said, something for which North Sea producers had long been lobbying.

“While the chancellor thrashes around desperately for another fossil fuel fix, the real long-term solution to our economic crisis lies in ending our gas and oil addiction and exploiting the UK’s huge clean energy potential,” he said.

Obama inaugurates renewed energy on climate change | Sarah van Gelder

Category : Business

That the president put climate change so high on his second-term agenda surprised many. But action must follow words

President Barack Obama included a call to action on climate change in his inaugural speech on 21 January, surprising those who believed gun violence and immigration reform would take top billing. It’s not the first time he’s talked about the issue, by any means, but few thought he would return to it with such emphasis now.

During his 2008 campaign, he spoke of working for the moment when the rise of the oceans would begin to slow and our planet would begin to heal. During the 2012 election campaign, he was mocked for that statement.

But no one was laughing this fall when waves swept over lower Manhattan and towns up and down the eastern seaboard; nor this summer when much of the US midwest suffered from drought and brave firefighters battled unprecedented fires across the west. Obama spoke in Monday’s inaugural address of our responsibility to “preserve our planet”, recognizing that “the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations”.

So can we expect the president to take the sort of leadership on the climate that many have hoped for since his 2008 campaign? In particular, will he stand up to the pressure of the fossil fuel lobby?

Here are the top things he can do to turn those intentions into the actions that would be up to the scale of the problem. Many of them can happen without the consent of congressional Republicans.

First, President Obama proposed a national conversation on climate during his first post-2012 election press conference. He should launch that conversation with clear statements about the urgency of the climate science, an explanation of what is at stake, and a call to all Americans to be part of the change.

It’s important that he not dumb this down. We need to know what it means to have experienced record-breaking temperatures, floods, droughts, wild fires, melting ice caps, and extreme storms. When given a full account of a threat, the American people have risen to big challenges in the past. We did it during the second world war when millions enlisted in the military, grew “victory gardens”, recycled, and went to work in factories to aid the war effort. He should call on us to be the next “greatest generation”.

Second, he should drop the “all of the above” approach to energy development. As Bill McKibben of 350.org shows, 80% of the fossil fuel now in the ground must stay there if we are to stabilize an increasingly chaotic climate. That means instead of giving subsidies, tax breaks, and a regulatory pass to fossil fuel companies, these advantages should instead be given to businesses developing renewables and energy efficiency.

Third, he should propose a straightforward tax on carbon. This approach actually has the support of such Republicans as George Shultz, as well as former top aides to Mitt Romney and John McCain. Even ExxonMobile says it could support such a tax. A carbon tax would send the right market signal, nudging our economy toward one that is safe for the planet. The billions of dollars raised by such a tax could help pay down the deficit, pay for investments in the clean energy economy, or be rebated directly to every American.

Finally, Obama should use the regulatory authority he already has. He should put a permanent stop to the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport some of the most carbon-intensive, polluting oil on the planet across the American heartland. He should instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to move ahead aggressively with regulation of existing power plants, which account for 40% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Stepping up to the climate challenge need not compete with the other goals he outlined in his inauguration speech. Building a clean energy economy will produce good jobs that lift more people into the middle class and build a sustainable and widely shared prosperity. Reducing fossil fuel pollutants will improve our health and reduce healthcare costs.

Less reliance on fossil fuels will bolster our security. And we could avoid spending untold sums cleaning up after massive storms and adapting to droughts and rising sea levels.

Obama’s speech shows he has the potential to be not just an historic president but a transformational one. Hopes have been raised and dashed before, though. If there was ever a moment for Barack Obama to take a stand and establish a legacy, this is it.

Eighty percent of Americans agree that inaction on climate change would have serious consequences. The fact that he need not run for re-election frees him from the need to placate the oil and coal lobby. And scientists agree we have only a few years to change directions if we are to avert a climate catastrophe that would dash the hopes of generations to come.

This project is far too big for any one person, even the president of the United States. Our best hope is an inside-outside strategy – one in which the Obama administration reaches out to those who are already on the front lines battling the climate crisis, as well as those who are just now coming to recognize the threat we face. And those on the outside must reciprocate.

Obama says we can lead the way together. People across the country and the globe have been doing so. Now is the time for the president to join them and take the bold actions that will serve generations to come.

Shell’s plans in Arctic at risk as Obama advisers call for halt to oil exploration

Category : Business

After several equipment failures and safety and environmental lapses, Shell’s drilling plans now under review

The entire future of Shell’s drilling plans in the Arctic was put in doubt on Friday after two of Barack Obama’s most trusted advisers called for a permanent halt to oil exploration.

In a piece for Bloomberg news, Carol Browner, who was Obama’s climate adviser during his first two years in office, and John Podesta, who headed his 2009 transition team, said they now believed there was no safe way to drill for oil in the Arctic.

Their opinions come at a critical time for Shell, which has invested six years and nearly $5bn trying to gain access to the vast undersea reserves of oil and natural gas in the Arctic ocean.

The Obama administration this month launched a high-level review of Shell’s plans for the Arctic, after a series of equipment failures and safety and environmental lapses.

The company is also struggling to repair or replace its Kulluk oil rig, which ran aground over the New Year, in order to return to the Arctic when the drilling season re-opens in July.

Now two of Obama’s advisers are suggesting Shell and other companies should not be operating in the Arctic at all.

“Developers and Barack Obama’s administration assured us these operations would be safe, thanks to strict oversight and new technology. Now it seems that optimism was misplaced,” Browner and Podesta write in a piece for Bloomberg View.

“Following a series of mishaps and errors, as well as overwhelming weather conditions, it has become clear that there is no safe and responsible way to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic ocean.”

Both writers are associated with the Center for American Progress, which operates as an incubator of liberal ideas and has been almost uniformly supportive of Obama’s policies.

Campaign groups saw the shift from Podesta and Browner as a sign that Obama, too, could be open to reversing his initial decision to open up the Arctic to offshore drilling.

“The messengers are what make this particular op-ed important,” said Michael LeVine, senior counsel for Oceana.

There was no immediate response from Shell.

But, as Browner and Podesta point out, there has been growing doubt about the entire idea of drilling for oil in the Arctic – from scientists, banks and insurers, and even rival oil companies, such as Total.

Those doubts escalated throughout Shell’s first season in the Arctic, which brought a series of near-disasters, including the grounding of its Kulluk rig on New Year’s Eve.

Last week, the departing interior secretary, Ken Salazar, admitted he had never “felt comfortable” with Shell’s preparations for drilling in the harsh environment of the Arctic.

“It may be that Shell isn’t even ready to move forward with drilling in 2013,” Salazar said.

Browner and Podesta went one further on Friday, arguing: “The Obama administration shouldn’t issue any new permits to Shell this year and should suspend all action on other companies’ applications to drill in this remote and unpredictable region.”

The two concluded: “It has become clear that the best Shell’s money can buy just isn’t good enough.”

Shell’s Arctic drilling plan under threat after US orders review

Category : Business

Grounding of Kulluk rig the latest in a series of mishaps, raising possibility that Shell may be forced to re-evaulate its proposals

The Obama administration ordered a sweeping review of Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic on Tuesday, after a series of mishaps ending with the New Year grounding of the company’s Kulluk rig.

The review – and a separate investigation of the grounding of the Kulluk – raises the possibility that Shell, after investing six years and $5bn trying to extract oil in harsh and remote conditions, may be forced to re-evaluate entirely its plans to drill in the Arctic.

The high-level review will home in on some of the most difficult moments for Shell since it began exploring for oil beneath the Beaufort and Chukchi seas last summer: a series of equipment breakdowns and safety and environmental violations.

The department of interior, in announcing the review, said it would help determine whether the company is prepared to operate in the Arctic.

“Our review will look at Shell’s management and operations in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas,” said Tommy Beaudreau, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy and Management, who will be heading the 60-day review. “We will assess Shell’s performance in the Arctic’s challenging environment.”

The review will pay special attention to the series of mishaps that culminated in the grounding of the Kulluk, including the botched test of its made-to-order oil spill containment dome, and equipment breakdowns and safety and environmental violations aboard the Arctic Challenger barge and the Noble Discoverer and Kulluk drilling rig.

Shell’s safety and environment practices will come under additional scrutiny with a separate US Coast Guard investigation announced on Tuesday into the grounding of its drill rig.

Tuesday’s moves come at a time when the Obama administration has been under growing pressure from Arctic scientists and campaign groups to reconsider its decision to open up the Arctic to oil companies.

The Arctic is believed to be one of the last great unexplored deposits of oil and natural gas remaining beneath the Beaufort and Chukchi, but conditions are far more difficult than anywhere else – and so are the risks to a pristine environment and wildlife including endangered polar bear.

“The unique challenges posed by the Arctic environment demand an even higher level of scrutiny,” the interior secretary, Ken Salazar, said.

The company said it welcomed the review. “While we completed our drilling operations off the North Slope safely and in accordance with robust permitting and regulatory standards, we nevertheless experienced challenges in supporting the program,” Curtis Smith, a company spokesman, said in an email. “A high-level review will help strengthen our Alaska exploration program going forward.”

Campaign groups said the review was a step in the right direction, but renewed their call on Obama to ban drilling in Alaskan waters outright.

“Again and again we are learning the hard way that Shell is not prepared to operate in Alaskan waters,” said Michael Levine, a senior attorney for the Oceana conservation group. “There is no way Shell should be allowed to drill into hydro-carbon bearing zones in 2013 or in the foreseeable future.”

The review could clear the way for further restrictions on Shell. Eleanor Huffines, who manages the Arctic programme for the Pew Environment Group, said it was time for the Obama administration to impose an Arctic-specific regulatory regime. ” What I would really like to see is the Obama Administration take a step back and impose Arctic specific safety, training, and spill response standards,” she said. “We would like to see training, equipment and spill response standards that are geared towards the reality of the weather, the remoteness of infrastructure, the fog, the sea, the winds – all those things that you are not going to encounter in the Gulf of Mexico.”

The Kulluk drilling ship ran aground on rocky shores off Alaska on New Year’s Eve, after breaking free from tug boats pulling it to Seattle. Before the grounding, Crew had struggled for five days through four-storey waves and 70mph winds to tow the rig to safe harbour. Salvage crews finally pulled the rig to sheltered Kiliuda Bay on Monday.

But the stranding was only the latest in a string of setbacks. Arctic groups said the repeat equipment failures and the oil company’s failure to meet air pollution standards for the region should have been a warning sign.

Separately, the US Coast Guard on Tuesday formally announced it was launching an investigation into the Kulluk’s grounding.

Even without the review, Shell is facing severe challenges to resume its billion-dollar quest for Arctic oil. It was unclear whether the Kulluk can be repaired in time for any drilling next summer – even if the company is cleared to return to the Arctic – and there are not many vessels designed to weather the region’s high waves and floating ice.

All of those mounting costs – and now the prospect of more stringent regulations for the 2013 season – may even persuade oil companies to stay out of the Arctic, said Paul Sullivan, an economics professor at the National Defence University. “The number one lesson is that it’s not easy to do oil exploration and production in the Arctic,” he said.

Meanwhile, new technologies were making unconventional oil and natural gas more attractive, he said. “The Arctic has a lot of potential but it could be that there are lot of better potentials elsewhere.”

Energy company staff working at climate ministry

Category : Business

Employees from firms including British Gas and npower being paid to work at Department of Energy, documents reveal

Almost two dozen employees from companies including the energy giants British Gas and npower are working at the Department of Energy and, in most cases, are being paid by the government to do so, documents released under freedom of information rules reveal. Oil companies such as Shell and ConocoPhillips also have staff inside the department, and civil servants have travelled in the opposite direction to work for the companies.

The Green party MP Caroline Lucas, who made some of the FOI requests, said: “Fossil fuel giants should have no place at the heart of government given that their current investment strategies run contrary to the need to build a low-carbon future that delivers both security and prosperity. It’s even more outrageous that taxpayers are footing the bill for some of these secondments, including from British Gas-owner Centrica, at a time when British Gas customers are struggling in the face of a 6% rise in their energy bills, and the company is expected to make £1.4bn profits after tax this year.

“These corporations obviously don’t lend out their employees without expecting something in return.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “Secondees bring with them knowledge and expertise which are vital to helping Decc do its job effectively. Likewise, seconding Decc staff into industry – be that oil, gas, renewables or other areas – provides insight into the challenges faced by those sectors. It is normal for secondees to be paid directly by Decc or for their company to be refunded for their time; this is standard practice across government.”

The documents show 23 external people are working at Decc. Those being paid by the department include employees of Centrica, Barclays, ESB (Ireland’s biggest energy firm), National Grid and Rolls-Royce. Staff from Shell and npower’s owner, RWE, are seconded

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Oil lobby and Koch-backed groups spent $270m on anti-Obama ads

Category : Business

At least half a dozen Democrats elected to the Senate despite receiving series of oil and coal attack ads

The oil and coal lobby and groups backed by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers spent $270m on television ads in the final weeks of the election, attacking Barack Obama and Democratic candidates for Congress.

It turns out not to have been a very good investment, according to the Centre for American Progress Action Fund, which tracked the funding.

Obama won re-election, and carried Ohio and Virginia, which were heavily targeted by the ad campaign, and at least half a dozen Democrats were also elected to the Senate despite being on the receiving end of the oil and coal attack ads.

In the last two months of the election alone, industry lobby groups as well as Koch-funded entities such as Americans for Prosperity spent $270m on television ads, including $31m of ads that were focused specifically on energy, the centre’s analysis said.

Researchers used data supplied by Kanter Media for its analysis. The result of the big spend was nearly 57,000 television ads representing fossil fuel concerns, according to the Centre for American Progress. In Senate races alone, the outside groups spent more than $60m since September, the analysis said. The same groups spent $49.7m trying to sway house races.

One of the biggest single spenders – the US Chamber of Commerce – struck out entirely in its efforts to influence Senate races, according to a separate analysis by the National Wildlife Federation.

The Chamber, which has been a loud and vocal critic of Obama’s clean energy measures, spent $20m on Senate races during this election season – losing at least seven. The Chamber spent $4.4m alone trying to block the election of Democrat Tim Kaine in swing state Virginia, and another $4.3m to keep Democratic senator Sherrod Brown from re-election.

The Chamber also spent heavily to try to keep Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin out of the Senate, spending $2.8m on television ads.

Nigerian farmers sue Shell in Dutch court

Category : Business

Villagers say pipeline leak in June 2005 fouled fish ponds, farmland and forests in Oruma

Nigerian farmers have asked a court in the Netherlands to rule that the oil company Shell is liable for poisoning their fish ponds and farmland with leaking oil pipelines. The case could set a precedent for holding multinationals responsible for their actions overseas.

Shell has argued that the case, which began in 2008, should be heard in Nigeria. Lawyers for the Nigerians argue that policy decisions by Shell are made at its headquarters in The Hague and that means The Hague civil court can rule in the case. Just hHow much Shell would face in compensation and clean-up costs would be addressed at a separate hearing if the court rules in favour of the farmers.

Villagers and Friends of the Earth say leaks from Shell’s pipeline fouled fish ponds, farmland and forests in three villages in the Niger Delta: Goi, Oruma and Ikot Ada Udo.

“If you are drinking water you are drinking crude, if you are eating fish, you are eating crude, if you are breathing, you are breathing crude,” one of the farmers, Eric Dooh, told reporters outside the court. “What I expect today is justice,” he added. “I expect that judges are going to

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California gas prices reach all-time high following drop in supply

Category : Business

State moves above Hawaii as most expensive place to buy gas, with some drivers paying $5 a gallon, as prices drop elsewhere

Gasoline prices in California rose to another all-time high on Sunday after passing a four-year high a day earlier, according to a leading industry body.

The four-cent-per-gallon jump Sunday was even bigger than Saturday’s jump, which was just a fraction of a penny.

AAA reported in its latest update on Sunday that the statewide average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $4.655. Saturday’s average of $4.6140 was the highest since June 19, 2008, when it was $4.6096.

Sunday’s price, like Saturday’s, was the highest in the nation, with the Golden State leapfrogging Hawaii this week as the state with the most expensive fuel due to a temporary reduction in supply.

Californians are paying 24 cents per gallon more than motorists in Hawaii, according to the AAA report.

In some locations, fuming motorists paid $5 or more per gallon while station owners had to shut down pumps in others.

“I seriously thought it was a mistake on the sign when we pulled in,” said Nancy Garcia, 34, while filling her Honda Accord at a Chevron station in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park.

She paid $4.65 a gallon for regular grade and said she couldn’t afford to fill her tank all the way.

AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge report said the national average both Saturday and Sunday was about $3.81 a gallon, the highest ever for this time of year.

However, gas prices in many other states have started decreasing, which is typical for October.

The dramatic surge came after a power outage Monday at a Southern California refinery that reduced supply in an already fragile and volatile market, analysts said, but the refinery came back online Friday and prices were expected to stabilize by next week.

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, predicted the average price could peak as high as $4.85.

“There is some relief in sight but probably not for a couple of days. Early next week is when we may see some more significant declines … but at retail prices, prices may climb for the next two to three days before they start to come down,” he said.

When supplies drop, wholesale prices rise. Then distributors and station owners have to pay more to fill up their station’s tanks. They then raise their prices based on how much they paid for their current inventory, how much they think they will have to pay for their next shipment, and, how much their competitors are charging.

A web of refinery and transmission problems is to blame, analysts said.

The situation is compounded by a California pollution law that requires a special blend of cleaner-burning gasoline from April to October, said Denton Cinquegrana, executive editor of the Oil Price Information Service, which helps AAA compile its price survey.

“We use the phrase ‘the perfect storm,’ and you know what, this current one makes those other perfect storms look like a drizzle. I don’t want to scare anyone, but this is a big problem,” Cinquegrana said. “Run-outs are happening left and right.”

Among the recent disruptions, an August 6 fire at a Chevron Corp refinery in Richmond that left one of the region’s largest refineries producing at a reduced capacity, and a Chevron pipeline that moves crude oil to Northern California also was shut down.

There was some good news, however.

Exxon Mobil Corp said a refinery in Torrance returned to normal operations Friday after the power failure Monday disrupted production for most of the week. State officials said with the refinery coming back online, prices should start falling.