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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • Oil prices could move back above $50 a barrel within a year as an OPEC initiative to freeze production gains support, according to CNNMoney. That's the view of Qatar's energy minister, Mohammed bin Saleh al-Sada, who also holds the rotating presidency of OPEC. "At the moment the best possible feasible proposal is to freeze at the level of production of January," al-Sada said in an exclusive interview. "We think [a production freeze] will gather more and more approval because it is [in] the interest of all parties." Five of OPEC's 13 members – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar and Venezuela – plus Russia, have agreed to keep output steady. The idea is that by freezing production the countries will be able to fight a global supply glut, and save their endangered economies. But oil markets continue to be rattled by chaos within OPEC. Iran has blasted the production freeze as a "joke,” and Saudi Arabia says it is not prepared to cut output.
  • The Winona County, Minn., board heard from several people in support of a full frac sand ban in Winona County, according to the Winona Daily News. The four speakers presented a variety of concerns about the industry, including health risks, water and land risks, lowered land prices and the success of monitoring mines in other areas. Other concerns were the divisiveness the issue can cause in a community and whether it would affect the land and water for future generations. Winona County administrator Ken Fritz said that while the county commissioners do receive letters and communication from people in support of a ban, there hasn’t been direction for staff to research or put an ordinance together to that effect.
  • A proposed frac sand operation in the towns of Alma and Adams, Wis., has received two final key approvals from Jackson County to move ahead. Conditional use permits in Adams for the Terracor Resources project were approved by the local zoning committee, although the proposed processing operation still requires state and federal approvals and is facing a circuit court challenge. Most of the frac sand mine’s operations would be based Alma, which is not regulated by county zoning. However, a portion, including a rail load-out, extends into Adams, which falls under county zoning regulations – the reason for the permit requests, according to the Jackson County Chronicle.