December 3, 2008

Are you driving 75% less? If not, then why is gasoline so cheap?

Bill Georgevich reporting

oil speculation wall street
Hear the 1 minute show:

We want to know why no one is investigating the relationship between oil prices and oil demand. Unless the world is using 75% less petroleum, it appears that the sky rocket in prices this summer was driven purely by speculation in the energy stock markets. If that’s so, what is the real cost of oil?

We know that it costs about $2/barrel or 4 cents a gallon to pump pure crude oil out of an existing oil well. There also are relatively small transportation and refining costs involved in turning that oil into consumer gasoline.

We know that in America a new oil refinery has not been built in 30 years. And we know that 30 years ago those refineries were producing gasoline that sold for less than 75 cents/gallon. Add to that the fact that in some countries like Iraq, Iran, and Venezuela, gasoline sells for less than 40 cents a gallon right now.

What does it all mean? Certainly this points to the fact that there is no relationship between “demand” and the market price of oil anymore than the value of a company is represented by it’s stock value. Companies can be over- or under-valued in the stock market….So too in commodity markets.

Without speculation inflation, oil would sell these days for between $10 and $20 per barrel with the retail cost of gasoline under a dollar per gallon. Keep in mind that oil sold for $45/barrel in early December 2008, even though OPEC had lowered production by 60 million barrels/month in a vain attempt to create a $50/barrel floor through which prices would not drop. Short term predictions point to even lower oil prices. What does this mean for the consumer and for renewable energy? Stay tuned, we’ll talk about low fossil fuel prices and its effect on renewables in our next program…