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With WTI on the precipice of breaking below $40 a barrel, chatter abounds on just how low oil prices can go from here, with some discussing prices in the low $30s, or potentially lower. While this type of price action is not without possibility, Bentek does not believe this is rooted in fundamentals, but rather, would be a short term phenomenon spurred by speculative trade capitulation and/or a brief storage shock.

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey judge approved a $225 million deal Tuesday between Gov. Chris Christie's administration and ExxonMobil over dozens of polluted sites and nearly 2,000 retail gas stations.

Superior Court Judge Michael Hogan ruled that while the deal is much less than the $8.9 billion the state originally sought, it is a "reasonable compromise" considering "substantial litigation risks" faced by the state in the 11-year-old case that spanned Democratic and Republican governors.

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker said Monday he plans to recommend to legislators that the state buy out TransCanada Corp.'s position in the major liquefied natural gas project that Alaska is pursuing.

NEW YORK (AP) — Energy company Encana Corp. is selling its Haynesville natural gas assets in northern Louisiana, including 112,000 acres, to GEP Haynesville LLC for $850 million.

Canadian-based Encana also said it will reduce its gathering and midstream commitments, which will be substantially complete through 2020, by about $480 million. It will transport and market GeoSouthern's Haynesville production on a fee for service basis for the next five years.

Over the past decade, the international oil and gas industry has enjoyed unprecedented growth and prosperity. The renaissance of North American energy production has introduced abundant new supply to the global market, promising to meet rapidly-growing demand and loosening OPEC’s tight grip on the industry.

In the midst of these boom times, middle market companies have seen some of the greatest success in exploiting new energy resources and capitalising on global appetite for inexpensive supply.

Southern Co. will buy Atlanta-based utility AGL Resources Inc. for about $8 billion in a transaction announced today that will give the electricity provider a large portion of the natural gas market from New Jersey to Florida.

For Southern Co., which is also Atlanta-based, the deal is expected to accelerate long-term earnings per share by 4-5%. Under the terms of the agreement, AGL shareholders will be entitled to receive $66 in cash for each share of common stock. the deal is valued at $12 billion, including the settling of debts.

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices are continuing to slide on fears of a slowdown in the world economy, with U.S. crude on pace to close at under $40 a barrel for the first time since the days of the global economic crisis.

Already trading around six-year lows on a prolonged slump, U.S. crude fell $1.48, or 3.7%, to $38.97 per barrel Monday afternoon. Earlier it dropped to $37.75. Oil hadn't closed below $40 a barrel since February 2009, although it briefly traded below that level on Friday.

BOOK CLIFFS, Utah (AP) — A Canadian company is about to embark on something never before done commercially in the United States: digging sticky, black, tar-soaked sand from the ground and extracting the petroleum.

The impending opening of the nation's first tar sands mine has become another front in the battle across the West between preservationists and the energy industry.

U.S. Oil Sands has invested nearly $100 million over the last decade to acquire rights to about 50 square miles, obtain permits and develop what it says is a brand-new, non-toxic method of separating out the oil.

“Lower for longer” is on everyone’s lips in the oil industry. A survey by the Wall Street Journal of investment banks found a growing consensus that oil prices not only won’t rebound soon, but could remain at today’s low levels through much of next year.

The average of the 10 oil price forecasts surveyed by WSJ predicted that oil prices would not rise above $70 per barrel until late next year, with WTI averaging just $63.40 for 2016.

Most investors have been attracted to the oil and energy industry due to its history of paying out large dividends. Blue Chip oil stocks have been known to possess management teams that are financially prudent, and shareholder friendly.

This is why companies such as Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil, have garnered much attention in the investment community. But, due to the large decline in the oil price, most investors are now wondering whether or not these dividends are sustainable.

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