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Oil prices rise as investors focus on U.S. data

Oil futures climbed toward the $50 level on Thursday, driven higher by a bullish outlook following weekly U.S. inventory data, but market participants expected the commodity to trade in a narrow range ahead of a OPEC meeting next week.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in September CLU7, -0.67% climbed 23 cents, or 0.5%, to $49.84 a barrel, after trading as low as $49.12 earlier in the session.

October Brent crude LCOV7, -0.29% on London’s ICE Futures exchange rose 38 cents, or 0.7%, to $52.74, bouncing back from a loss of as much as 0.9% earlier on Thursday.Oil has experienced fitful trade over the past several weeks, but has managed to drift higher within range of its 200-day moving average at $49.45 a barrel, as investors have grappled with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’s attempts to cap global output, along with other major producers. U.S. shale producers have been the biggest headwind to OPEC’s efforts to stem output. Meanwhile, an agreement led by the cartel and major crude producers is set to expire at the end of the first quarter in 2018.

We are going to be relatively range-bound

“I think we are going to be relatively range-bound unless we see some kind of weather or political event,” said Tariq Zahir, managing member at commodity-trading advisor Tyche Capital Advisors.

Zahir said oil futures would be sensitive to any news, given its recent uptrend. He said U.S. traded oil has the potential to hit $51, if any supply disruptions or bullish news emerges.

Late Wednesday, the EIA reported a 1.5 million barrel drop in crude inventories last week, below analysts’ expectations. However, “a strong increase in demand was enough to appease the bullish investors,” said ANZ Bank. Refiners’ capacity utilization jumped to 95.4% last week, the government also said.

American Petroleum Institute out on Tuesday

“I think we are going to be relatively range-bound unless we see some kind of weather or political event,” said Tariq Zahir, managing member at commodity-trading advisor Tyche Capital Advisors.

Zahir said oil futures would be sensitive to any news, given its recent uptrend. He said U.S. traded oil has the potential to hit $51, if any supply disruptions or bullish news emerges.

Late Wednesday, the EIA reported a 1.5 million barrel drop in crude inventories last week, below analysts’ expectations. However, “a strong increase in demand was enough to appease the bullish investors,” said ANZ Bank. Refiners’ capacity utilization jumped to 95.4% last week, the government also said.

ANZ sees tightness coming in the fourth quarter

Data from the American Petroleum Institute out on Tuesday showed stockpiles unexpectedly increased last week.

The mixed signals on U.S. supply come as market players globally await signs that production caps led by OPEC and Russia are making notable dents into still-historically high global supplies. ANZ sees tightness coming in the fourth quarter, pushing oil prices into the high-$50s.

Among refined products, September gasoline RBU7, -0.79% was up 0.2% at $1.649 a gallon.

Meanwhile, natural gas for September NGU17, -0.18% climbed 0.4% to $2.821 per million British thermal units.
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BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION: Massive scaffolding installed at new Long Beach bridge in California

The 3.1 million-lb scaffolding system is contributing to the replacement of the 50-year-old Gerald Desmond Bridge

Construction crews lifted a massive 3.1 million-lb piece of scaffolding on Tuesday in Long Beach, Calif., as part of the construction of a bridge connecting Long Beach to Terminal Island.

Workers in hard hats looked to the sky as a crew hoisted the $10 million steel piece of equipment designed in Norway and constructed in China, then moved by a super-powered jack. Longer than two football fields, the scaffolding system eliminates less reliable, traditional wooden scaffolding systems that can be more easily knocked out by wind or an earthquake.

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Construction crews

Construction crews lifted a massive 3.1 million-lb piece of scaffolding on Tuesday in Long Beach, Calif., as part of the construction of a bridge connecting Long Beach to Terminal Island.

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Workers

Workers in hard hats looked to the sky as a crew hoisted the $10 million steel piece of equipment designed in Norway and constructed in China, then moved by a super-powered jack. Longer than two football fields, the scaffolding system eliminates less reliable, traditional wooden scaffolding systems that can be more easily knocked out by wind or an earthquake.

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The equipment

Already the equipment has helped build the westbound approach to the bridge, which will replace the 50-year old Gerald Desmond Bridge. The total cost of the project has reached $1.5 billion.

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Cable-stayed bridge

The cable-stayed bridge is touted by city officials and developers as a project that will redefine the Long Beach skyline, with two massive towers where cables will string out alongside the six-lane, 1.5-mile roadway.

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Construction

Although construction is more than halfway complete, the bridge is one year behind schedule and $500 million over budget. The eastbound lanes and the main span still need to be finished before cars can barrel along the highway. It is scheduled to open in late 2018.

Man or machine?

Vehicle-makers are introducing more wearable equipment to alleviate stresses and strains, giving assembly workers a somewhat cyborg look. AMS reports on the latest innovations being rolled out by Audi and BMW

As the robots used in automotive manufacturing become more human, able to work collaboratively and intelligently, in one sense human operatives are becoming more machine-like. Wearable technology such as ‘medical’ gloves or scanner gloves, plus exoskeletons for the upper and lower body are starting to give line workers a distinctly cyborg look. Of course, it’s not about aesthetics but ergonomics; the alleviation of stresses and strains plus the fatigue which makes errors more likely, therefore improving production efficiency and quality.

Persistent modernisation


@AutomotiveSolutions

In March this year, BMW announced the “persistent modernisation” of its working environments to “further reduce ergonomically unfavourable and strenuous tasks, giving workers an opportunity to apply their unique cognitive skills to the best effect”.

The OEM already uses exoskeletons in assembly but will boost the number of upper-body supports from 24 to 64 in 2017. This is a response to high demand at the Spartanburg plant, South Carolina, which operates the existing 24 devices and has a history of “innovative value creation”, says Christian Dahmen, specialist for exoskeletons in production, BMW. “We tested the exoskeletons in Spartanburg in a pilot project in 2016 and got them ready for use in series production,” he states. “Following the consistently positive experience in Spartanburg, the next step will be rollout at our German automotive plants.”

He describes the upper-body support as being like a T-shirt, available in different standard sizes but modifiable for specific requirements.

BMW has worked with both major manufacturers and small start-ups to develop the exoskeletons and Dahmen says that weight, wearing comfort and the time it takes to put on or remove them are important considerations, alongside the operational advantages they deliver.

“The material mustn’t chafe, create pressure points or cause excessive sweating, and can’t be too heavy,” he explains.

This is one reason why BMW uses ‘passive’ upper-body exoskeletons which rely on mechanical springs rather than servomotors to support the arms. “This saves weight and makes the exoskeleton more comfortable to wear for longer periods,” states Dahmen. Acceptance among personnel is critical to the effective deployment of the devices, and so BMW is careful to consult its workers from the conceptual design phase through pilot projects to implementation. According to Dahmen, the company is currently exploring other applications for its exoskeletons.

Transocean posts a loss amid string of impairments

Swiss drilling contractor Transocean has posted a half year loss in revenues, due to a number of “unfavorable items” bringing down the accounts.

Revenues for up to June 2017 amounted to £1.1billion down compared to the £1.6billion made in the same period last year.

The company made a loss of £1.2billion compared to a pre-tax profit of £343million last year

Second quarter 2017 results included net unfavorable items of £1.3 billion write down including a loss on the divestiture of the jackup fleet, impairment of the midwater floater asset group, the early retirement of debt as well as litigation matters and restructuring charges.

Revenues for up to June 2017 amounted to £1.1billion down compared to the £1.6billion made in the same period last year.

The company made a loss of £1.2billion compared to a pre-tax profit of £343million last year

Second quarter 2017 results included net unfavorable items of £1.3 billion write down including a loss on the divestiture of the jackup fleet, impairment of the midwater floater asset group, the early retirement of debt as well as litigation matters and restructuring charges.

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The company

@Energy

Revenues for up to June 2017 amounted to £1.1billion down compared to the £1.6billion made in the same period last year.

The company made a loss of £1.2billion compared to a pre-tax profit of £343million last year

Second quarter 2017 results included net unfavorable items of £1.3 billion write down including a loss on the divestiture of the jackup fleet, impairment of the midwater floater asset group, the early retirement of debt as well as litigation matters and restructuring charges.

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Swiss drilling contractor

@EnergySave

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