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Old 04-23-2007, 08:40 AM  
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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 04-27-2007, 07:07 AM   #106
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip Towne
Why not build refineries in Mexico? Presto! No EPA.
IIRC, the primary Mexican oil company is nationalized. I don't think they would like an American-based oil company on their turf. Besides, we already import something like 15% of our supply from Mexico.
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Old 04-27-2007, 12:14 PM   #107
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Now, if something like this plan is executed...

"Saudi Arabia says it has foiled a plot by militants to carry out suicide air attacks on oil installations and military bases."
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Old 04-27-2007, 01:47 PM   #108
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Originally Posted by Donger
I honestly don't know enough about the theory to believe or not believe it.
In a nutshell, it entails the supposition that at some point, the worlds total barrels per day production would peak at a certain level as a planetary maximum output.

At the same time, the demand for oil would continue to grow thereby causing prices to skyrocket to obscenely astronomical prices like 9 dollars per gallon for gas, and 200 dollars per barrel of crude.

Thoughts?

I say, drill for oil in Alaska, drill it deep, just in case the "oil regenerates itself" people are correct.
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Old 04-27-2007, 01:50 PM   #109
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bunnytrdr
In a nutshell, it entails the supposition that at some point, the worlds total barrels per day production would peak at a certain level as a planetary maximum output.

At the same time, the demand for oil would continue to grow thereby causing prices to skyrocket to obscenely astronomical prices like 9 dollars per gallon for gas, and 200 dollars per barrel of crude.

Thoughts?

I say, drill for oil in Alaska, drill it deep, just in case the "oil regenerates itself" people are correct.
Peaks at a certain level because of lack of supply (geologically-speaking) or because of not enough E&P? I'd agree with the latter, not the former. Oil wasn't created overnight and then stopped. I believe there's more out there, a LOT more. Harder to find and harder to reach, but it's there.
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Old 04-27-2007, 02:10 PM   #110
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Originally Posted by Donger
Peaks at a certain level because of lack of supply (geologically-speaking) or because of not enough E&P? I'd agree with the latter, not the former. Oil wasn't created overnight and then stopped. I believe there's more out there, a LOT more. Harder to find and harder to reach, but it's there.
We should also increase the fuel efficiency of our automobile fleet to delay the demand side of this theory from exacting its toll on prices.

You really notice how stupid people drive when you are driving a loaded truck that takes time to speed up and lots of breaking distance.

Running up to a red light, fools will blare by you at 65 mph because the red light is "way in front" of them, then they have to light up their brakes and get down to near zero, and it finally turns green. Then they are packed in a line of cars, and I catch back up to them while cruising at 50 mph the whole time. Did I mention that I didn't have to light up the brakes. Dummies, every time you push the brake pedal you are burning up your brakes, the less you use them, the longer they last. That is just an added bonus to not driving aggressively.
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Old 04-27-2007, 02:19 PM   #111
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Originally Posted by Donger
IIRC, the primary Mexican oil company is nationalized. I don't think they would like an American-based oil company on their turf. Besides, we already import something like 15% of our supply from Mexico.
I'll bet they could do it if they wished to. There are lots of American factories down there.
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Old 04-27-2007, 02:48 PM   #112
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Originally Posted by bunnytrdr
We should also increase the fuel efficiency of our automobile fleet to delay the demand side of this theory from exacting its toll on prices.

You really notice how stupid people drive when you are driving a loaded truck that takes time to speed up and lots of breaking distance.

Running up to a red light, fools will blare by you at 65 mph because the red light is "way in front" of them, then they have to light up their brakes and get down to near zero, and it finally turns green. Then they are packed in a line of cars, and I catch back up to them while cruising at 50 mph the whole time. Did I mention that I didn't have to light up the brakes. Dummies, every time you push the brake pedal you are burning up your brakes, the less you use them, the longer they last. That is just an added bonus to not driving aggressively.
I'm hopeful that people will change their driving habits. Smart driving can decrease fuel consumption considerably.
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Old 04-27-2007, 02:48 PM   #113
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I'll bet they could do it if they wished to. There are lots of American factories down there.
I honestly don't know.
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Old 04-27-2007, 03:27 PM   #114
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The price goes up immediately because the retailers are considering what their replacement costs are going to be. They have to anticipate what that is going to be. For example, if the price of crude is going up and their next shipment needs to be purchased next week, they will start raising their prices in order to not lose money. They often don't raise it enough and actually lose money. Therefore, they try to make some back when prices drop by not dropping their prices as fast.

It all revolves around the price of crude, something that the oil companies do not control. They benefit from high crude prices, however.
I can partially understand what you said but what kills any credibility regarding that is the fact regarding the excessive, or obscene, profits they have seen over the past year. With the profits margin over the expected profits they can pay for a new refinery with the money they made from that one quarter. $39 B is one hefty excessive profit. Granted the upper management probably got $15 B to share.
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Old 04-27-2007, 03:30 PM   #115
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I can partially understand what you said but what kills any credibility regarding that is the fact regarding the excessive, or obscene, profits they have seen over the past year. With the profits margin over the expected profits they can pay for a new refinery with the money they made from that one quarter. $39 B is one hefty excessive profit. Granted the upper management probably got $15 B to share.
Could they? Sure. Will they? Probably not.

Here's a good explanation: http://www.gasandoil.com/goc/news/ntn12966.htm
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Old 04-27-2007, 03:37 PM   #116
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Could they? Sure. Will they? Probably not.

Here's a good explanation: http://www.gasandoil.com/goc/news/ntn12966.htm
I totally understand the issues, it's just that if they really wanted to build they could and they would be immediately profitable and the ROI would be not tens of years but a few years based on the current rate of profit acceleration maybe as few as 5 years.
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Old 04-27-2007, 03:43 PM   #117
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I totally understand the issues, it's just that if they really wanted to build they could and they would be immediately profitable and the ROI would be not tens of years but a few years based on the current rate of profit acceleration maybe as few as 5 years.
Right, so it's a 5-10 year ROI. That's not acceptable to them. Throw in the other issues, and it's a no-brainer.
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Old 04-27-2007, 03:56 PM   #118
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Right, so it's a 5-10 year ROI. That's not acceptable to them. Throw in the other issues, and it's a no-brainer.
I understand that they won't do it, what I don't understand is the fact they want to figure in an ROI when the new operation would be paid for before it's built. The profit margin has been excessive, they are upgrading existing refineries, that's what keeps me working. I program equipment for the abatement of toxins they create. The millions they are spending to upgrade refineries doesn't even come close to the amount of money they have taken from all of the consumers.

I do know that if my company made the profits these guys made we would benefit from the profit sharing. Even at a 0.1% distribution I could retire!
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Old 04-27-2007, 04:00 PM   #119
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I understand that they won't do it, what I don't understand is the fact they want to figure in an ROI when the new operation would be paid for before it's built. The profit margin has been excessive, they are upgrading existing refineries, that's what keeps me working. I program equipment for the abatement of toxins they create. The millions they are spending to upgrade refineries doesn't even come close to the amount of money they have taken from all of the consumers.

I do know that if my company made the profits these guys made we would benefit from the profit sharing. Even at a 0.1% distribution I could retire!
Actually, their profit margin is comparable to other industries. In some cases, considerably less.
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Old 04-27-2007, 04:58 PM   #120
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Actually, their profit margin is comparable to other industries. In some cases, considerably less.
How the f(*& do you know...Do you work in the industry or just have to much time on your hands? Oh wait...how many posts do you have?

Seriously...

The way you write one would think everyone is on the same playing field and it is what it is...

I hate to tell you but your dead wrong...

The price of fuel will tip the scale...EVERYTHING will be affected. Construction, food, shipping...It's not just about me car pooling with the neighbor or using my scooter.
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