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Old 04-23-2007, 08:40 AM  
Donger Donger is offline
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Gasoline at $4 Coming to a Pump Near You, Unfazed by Rising Tab

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...d=afOlUzd30YOo

Pretty alarmist, IMO, but possible.

April 23 (Bloomberg) -- Whether it's $50 to fill up your Prius or $130 for the Ford Expedition, $4-a-gallon gasoline is coming to a pump near you.

Fuel prices are rising at a pace not seen since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita knocked out a third of the U.S. oil refining industry in 2005. Gasoline consumption is climbing twice as fast as last year and will accelerate when summer travel begins late next month.

``What we're surprised by is the increased demand,'' said James Mulva, chief executive officer at ConocoPhillips, whose refineries from California to New Jersey produce 56 million gallons of gas a day, enough to meet 14 percent of the country's needs. ``Even though the price of gasoline is up, the demand is up,'' he said in an April 12 interview in Houston.

Population gains and U.S. economic growth are causing an increase in fuel purchases, according to Orlando, Florida-based AAA, the nation's largest organization for motorists. The U.S. economy will expand at a 2.4 percent annual pace in the second quarter, up from 1.8 percent in the first three months, according to the median estimate of 74 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Gasoline use is rising almost 5 percent above the five-year average.

Americans are resigned to higher prices, says David Pursell, a principal with Pickering Energy Partners, a consulting firm in Houston.

``Last year, we had pump prices well over $3 for the summer and gasoline demand was up,'' Pursell said in an interview. ``Would $4 gasoline cause demand contraction? I think it will, but I also thought $3 gasoline would.''

Pump Prices

Gasoline inventories, measured by the days of demand they will cover, are at the lowest level in two decades for this time of year because of refinery fires, power failures and maintenance work oil companies failed to complete in 2006. No new U.S. refinery has been built in three decades, increasing the strain on existing plants.

Pump prices in the U.S. may increase to $4 a gallon from a nationwide average of $2.87 today, especially if hurricanes threaten Gulf of Mexico refineries, says Peter Beutel, an analyst at Cameron Hanover Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut, who helps industrial consumers manage energy costs.

``Hurricanes are always the huge wild card,'' said Beutel. ``We're all praying for a year like 2006 rather than 2005.''

The June-to-November Atlantic Ocean hurricane season may produce 17 tropical storms, with nine reaching hurricane force and four becoming major hurricanes whose winds exceed 111 miles per hour (179 kilometers per hour), London-based forecasters at Tropical Storm Risk said. Some of the storms will strike the Gulf Coast this year after a benign 2006, AccuWeather.com predicted.

Inflation Risk

Higher pump prices will make winners of refinery owners such as ConocoPhillips, San Antonio-based Valero Energy Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc of The Hague. Shares of Valero and Sunoco Inc., whose only business is refining, are rebounding after a decline at the end of last summer.

The increase in fuel costs threatens to quicken inflation and restrain consumer spending in the U.S. An appreciation to $4 a gallon would add more than $10 for a driver who fills the 12- gallon tank of a Toyota Motor Corp. Prius. The owner of an Expedition, a Ford Motor Co. sport-utility vehicle with a 34- gallon capacity, faces an increase of almost $40.

Many Americans have no choice but to drive more, says Christopher Knittel, an economist who studies fuel consumption at the University of California in Davis.

More Commuters

``We live farther from our jobs than we did in the 1970s, and with the rise of dual-income households, we now have two people who drive those distances every day,'' Knittel said.

Consumers also do more driving for things such as taking children to soccer practice, which they are unlikely to quit, he said. The U.S. population has increased 1 percent a year in the past decade to 301 million in 2007, adding to demand for gasoline, economists said.

Rising fuel prices make it less likely that Federal Reserve policy makers, who have cited inflation risks for the past year, will cut interest rates to spur economic growth. Before the hurricane-induced peak in 2005, U.S. gasoline topped out at $1.42 a gallon in March 1981, or $3.21 when adjusted for inflation, according to the Energy Department.

Economies in Europe and Asia are less likely to be hurt by gasoline prices because fuel already is subject to high taxes designed to encourage conservation. A gallon of unleaded costs about 3.25 pounds a gallon ($6.49) in the U.K., and in Japan it's 130.3 yen per liter ($4.16 a gallon).

$4 Barrier

U.S. consumers will get little relief on gasoline prices from Europe this year, unlike 2005, when oil companies shipped more across the Atlantic after the hurricanes. Europe's gasoline inventories in February were 114.2 million barrels, down 11 percent from two years earlier, according to the International Energy Agency in Paris. The drop in Europe was almost twice the 5.7 percent decline in U.S. supplies in that time.

``Just as we used to think $3 a gallon was an impenetrable barrier, now it's $4,'' said Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Business in College Park and former chief economist for the U.S. International Trade Commission. Gasoline at $3.50 is likely, Morici said, and a conflict with Iran or any event that disrupts crude supplies may push it to $4.

Pump prices rose 33 percent in the past 11 weeks, the fastest rate of gain since a six-week, 34 percent rally to the record $3.069 in September 2005, Energy Department data show.

Bodman's `Worry'

U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman in an interview last week said the national average pump price could break the record this summer. While his agency's official forecast is for gasoline to peak next month at about where it is today, hurricanes, refinery closures or crude oil supply cuts may send prices higher, he said.

Higher prices are ``a legitimate worry,'' Bodman said. ``We have trouble spots all over the world'' that could boost crude oil prices. ``We're in a very tight situation.''

Spending on fuel in the U.S. consumes half as much household income as in the early 1980s, which means gasoline would need to reach almost $6 a gallon to have the same effect on the economy as in 1981, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Storage tanks at U.S. refineries, terminals and ports hold enough gasoline to cover almost 22 days of domestic demand, 8.2 percent less than the five-year average and the lowest for this time of year since the 1980s, Energy Department figures show.

Shortages

Valero-owned filling stations in Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado, ran dry after a Feb. 16 explosion and fire shut the company's McKee refinery in Sunray, Texas. A day earlier, a blaze at an Exxon Mobil Corp. plant in Nanticoke, Ontario, slashed output, resulting in shortages and higher prices across eastern Canada.

The McKee shutdown strained supplies so much that ConocoPhillips postponed maintenance at its Borger, Texas, refinery north of Amarillo to prevent shortages in the region.

``Refineries are becoming more complex,'' Mulva said in the Houston interview. ``What we're finding is it's more difficult keeping reliability up with more sophisticated pieces of equipment that are highly integrated.''

Tesoro Corp. of San Antonio, the second-largest refiner in the western U.S., said first-quarter refinery use dropped because oil companies delayed until this year maintenance that could have been done in 2006. The portion of U.S. refining capacity that was in operation in the first quarter declined to 87.3 percent from 88.9 percent a year earlier, according to Energy Department data.

`Refineries Blow Up'

``Prices will depend entirely on whether we have a couple of refineries blow up,'' said Philip K. Verleger, an economist who runs a consulting firm in Newport Beach, California. ``It's almost impossible we'll get to $4 a gallon if all the refineries run well this summer. But if something happens and there are problems, then anything's possible.''

The average share gain for Valero, Tesoro and six other oil-refining companies is 26 percent this year, outperforming the 4.1 percent gain for Exxon Mobil and a 4.7 percent increase for the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

The shares will continue to rally, said Paul Carlson, who helps manage $3 billion at HGK Asset Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

``Refiners are doing very well these days,'' said Carlson, whose holdings include ConocoPhillips, the second-biggest U.S. refiner. ``There will be lots of demand for any new refining stocks.''

`Back in Favor'

As recently as August, investors were selling oil refiners on concern an economic slowdown would slash fuel demand in the U.S., the world's largest energy market. During seven weeks last August and September, Valero shares fell 29 percent, wiping out $12 billion in market value.

``Refining is very much back in favor,'' said Douglas Ober, who helps oversee $2.3 billion at Baltimore-based Adams Express Co. ``Even with higher prices, we haven't seen any substantial cutback in demand. They're cranking out as much of this stuff as they can, and we're throwing it in our tanks as fast as we can.''

The margin earned from processing crude oil into fuels rose to $24.68 a barrel on April 11, the highest since right after the hurricanes in September 2005. The margin has since retreated to $22.12 a barrel, still about double the five-year average.

``It'll be a fairly tight gasoline market all through the summer,'' said Robert Hinckley, an analyst at Rochdale Securities in New York.
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Old 01-06-2009, 04:56 PM   #1621
kcfanintitanhell kcfanintitanhell is offline
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Donger, does this make sense?

HOUSTON - All that money you're saving these days at the gas pump? You might want to put it in the bank.

The same cheap oil that's providing relief to drivers and businesses in an awful economy is setting the stage for another price spike, perhaps as soon as next year, that will bring back painful memories of last summer's $4-a-gallon gas.

The oil industry is scaling back on exploration and production because some projects don't make economic sense when energy prices are low. And crude is already harder to find because more nations that own oil companies are blocking outside access to their oil fields.
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When the world emerges from the recession and starts to burn more fuel again, and higher demand meets lower supply, prices will almost certainly shoot higher.

Some analysts say oil could eventually eclipse $150 a barrel, maybe even on its way to $200. In such a scenario, gasoline would easily cost more than the record high of $4.11 a gallon set last summer. Oil trades at about $50 today.

No one knows for sure, but some analysts say the spike could happen as soon as next year, perhaps in 2011 or 2012.

"I think those supply limits will come back to bite with a vengeance," said Sean Brodrick, a natural resources analyst at Weiss Research Inc.

High prices at the pump last summer — more than $4 per gallon for gas on average — helped slash demand for oil. From November 2007 to October 2008, Americans drove 100 billion fewer miles than the year before, according to government figures. The nation's biggest automakers lurched toward bankruptcy as sales of sport utility vehicles and trucks plummeted.

"We wouldn't be bailing out the automobile industry today ... had we not had this crazy situation with oil prices," said Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consulting firm, and author of "The Prize," the Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the oil industry.

Oil giants like Exxon Mobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips have yet to announce their 2009 capital spending plans, but analysts say even the cash-rich companies are likely to shelve some projects.

Already, Royal Dutch Shell has postponed a near-doubling of production in Canada's oil sands — an operation that analysts say only makes economic sense when oil is about $20 a barrel more expensive than it is now. Marathon Oil says it expects to cut capital spending by 15 percent in 2009.

Brodrick said canceled or postponed oil and gas projects could contribute to a drop of 7 percent or more in global oil production this year.

Smaller oil producers could cut spending by 30 percent, said Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Fadel Gheit. The majority of U.S. crude and natural gas is supplied by smaller, independent companies, not the Exxons and Chevrons, and smaller producers have been forced to pull back because of frozen credit markets.

All this comes as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which controls about 40 percent of world crude supplies, embarks on its biggest single production cut ever.

It adds up to another round of price shocks for consumers that's probably inevitable, said Bruce Vincent, president of Houston-based Swift Energy Co., an independent producer.

"Demand will start growing, supply will start coming down, and you'll have that intersect again where prices will take off dramatically," Vincent said. "(But) it's not healthy for the economy. It's not healthy for the industry."

Already, the futures markets are pricing in more expensive oil. While a barrel of light, sweet crude for February delivery costs about $50, the market for September oil is already over $60.

Big Western oil companies like Exxon and ConocoPhillips have also been cut off from crude reserves under the control of nationalized oil companies from Saudi Arabia to Venezuela.

Economy in Turmoil
Despite actions, Fed sees downturn lasting
Federal Reserve officials feared the economy would be stuck in a painful rut for some time despite their decision to slash interest rates to a record low.
That cheap gasoline? Don’t get used to it
Alcoa to slash 13,500 jobs to save money
Pending home sales plunge to record low
Services sector contraction slows in Dec.
Late last year, the International Energy Agency said it will take more than a trillion dollars in annual investments to find new fossil fuels over the next two decades in order to avoid shortages that could choke the global economy.

When the world economy recovers from the current malaise, "Are we going to get another one of these violent cycles where prices overshoot and you get back in the same spiral?" asked Yergin. "Some volatility is inevitable in global commodity markets, but this kind of extreme volatility is bad for everyone. It creates deep wounds."

Another part of the problem, said Judy Dugan, research director for the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, is that oil companies didn't invest enough in new exploration over the past several years, as they raked in billions in profits.

"They're screaming, 'Drill, baby, drill,' but they didn't invest anywhere near where they should have been investing when prices were high," she said. "Now that prices have crashed, they say prices are too low, knowing full well prices are going to go back up."
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:31 PM   #1622
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:32 PM   #1623
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:40 PM   #1624
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"They're screaming, 'Drill, baby, drill,' but they didn't invest anywhere near where they should have been investing when prices were high," she said. "Now that prices have crashed, they say prices are too low, knowing full well prices are going to go back up."

If this quote doesn't pretty much sum up the fact that we have been, and are about to, get ass-raped again by the oil companies I don't know what does.
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:50 PM   #1625
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"They're screaming, 'Drill, baby, drill,' but they didn't invest anywhere near where they should have been investing when prices were high," she said. "Now that prices have crashed, they say prices are too low, knowing full well prices are going to go back up."

If this quote doesn't pretty much sum up the fact that we have been, and are about to, get ass-raped again by the oil companies I don't know what does.
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:51 PM   #1626
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The greed of these companies is unforgivable.

So they're going to cut back new research, and other projects because they're not pulling 9 billion a quarter profit? With all the money they had to have made?
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Old 01-06-2009, 06:03 PM   #1627
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"They're screaming, 'Drill, baby, drill,' but they didn't invest anywhere near where they should have been investing when prices were high," she said. "Now that prices have crashed, they say prices are too low, knowing full well prices are going to go back up."

If this quote doesn't pretty much sum up the fact that we have been, and are about to, get ass-raped again by the oil companies I don't know what does.
Meh. We're socialists now. Obama will never let it happen to the extent that it did.
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Old 01-06-2009, 06:55 PM   #1628
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Old 01-06-2009, 07:36 PM   #1629
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$1.99 here. I assume Israel and Hamas both have stock in the ****ing oil companies.
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Old 01-06-2009, 08:04 PM   #1630
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$1.99 here. I assume Israel and Hamas both have stock in the ****ing oil companies.
Them damn missiles and artillery shells don't grow on trees.
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Old 01-07-2009, 01:50 AM   #1631
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Old 01-07-2009, 05:32 AM   #1632
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Well, at least we had a Merry Christmas and stuff. I figured this wouldn't last forever...
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Old 01-07-2009, 06:30 AM   #1633
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Meh. We're socialists now. Obama will never let it happen to the extent that it did.
You are not very smart are you?
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Old 01-07-2009, 06:37 AM   #1634
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The greed of these companies is unforgivable.

So they're going to cut back new research, and other projects because they're not pulling 9 billion a quarter profit? With all the money they had to have made?

QFT But the real problem is there are no refineries in the US anymore. They shut them all down and let them turn into piles of rust. It doesn't do any good to find more oil if we don't have the sources to refine it.

The oil companies need to reinvest some of their profits back into more production capabilities but it will be a cold day in hell when they actually worry about the average joe consumer.
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Old 01-07-2009, 06:57 AM   #1635
Skip Towne Skip Towne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by old_geezer View Post
QFT But the real problem is there are no refineries in the US anymore. They shut them all down and let them turn into piles of rust. It doesn't do any good to find more oil if we don't have the sources to refine it.

The oil companies need to reinvest some of their profits back into more production capabilities but it will be a cold day in hell when they actually worry about the average joe consumer.
They still have refineries operating in the US. Just locally there is at least one in Tulsa, Coffeyville, Ks., and Ponca City, Ok.
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