While most hurricanes and tropical storms that make landfall in the United States have an effect on gas prices that consumers are unhappy with, the projected path of Hurricane Sandy and its causing of decreased fuel demand could actually help to continue to push gas prices lower around the country.
The entire northeastern part of the nation is currently locked down as nearly 70 million people brace for Hurricane Sandy, a complicated system that is growing ever larger as it merges with existing wintry cold fronts. This has included a temporary stoppage of transit services in New York City and a mandatory evacuation order of hundreds of thousands of coastal residents across several states. ( Continue… )
The anticipation surrounding hurricane Sandy is quickly swelling to proportions on a scale with, well, Frankenstorm.
As the storm nears, many may consider investing in a backup generator, as weather analysts forecast prolonged, widespread power outages.
The run on backup power sources has already begun.
As of Friday afternoon, generators made up eight of the 10 items in the home and kitchen category of Amazon.com's Movers and Shakers List – a ranking of the online retailer's best selling items over the past 24 hours. The DuroMax Elite MX1500 Gas Powered Portable Generator jumped from 13,478 to 78 on the site's overall best selling items, a 17,179 percent increase. ( Continue… )
The feeling of relief is palpable on Twitter:
" Lovin these gas prices!!"
"Gas prices just keep getting lower and lower! Yesss!"
" I can't remember the last time gas prices were this low."
This past week, gas prices fell 12 cents, the largest weekly decline since 2008, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.
This week, gas prices are falling even more – down 9 cents since Monday, putting the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded at $3.58.
Hurricane Sandy could change that, at least temporarily on the East Coast, if as forecasted it slams into Delaware and disrupts refinery operations in the region. Gasoline futures were up two cents a gallon late Friday morning on that possibility.
For now, though, the trend at the pump continues down as supplies are high and demand subdued. Some 6 percent of gas stations are selling gas below $3.25 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com, a group of local websites that track gasoline prices. Some 23 percent of stations are selling gas for less than they did a year ago, especially in the Great Lakes states.
Even if Hurricane Sandy stalls East Coast refinery operations for a few days, the overall trend for the rest of the year looks likely to continue downward. Despite stronger than expected growth in the third quarter, US benchmark oil prices had fallen below $86 a barrel in late morning trading.
"AAA expects that gas prices across the country will continue to drop leading up to Election Day and will move even lower approaching the end of the year, barring any unforeseen forces," the coalition of motor clubs said Monday in its weekly report.
We seem to hear two versions of the story of limited oil supply:
1. The economists’ view, saying that the issue is a simple problem of supply and demand. Substitution, higher prices, demand destruction, greater efficiency, and increased production of oil at higher prices will save the day.
2. A version of Hubbert’s peak oil theory, saying that world oil production will rise and at some point reach a plateau and begin to decline, because of geological depletion. The common belief is that the rate of decline will be determined by geological considerations, and will roughly match the rate at which production increased.
In my view, neither of these views is correct. My view is a third view:
3. An adequate supply of cheap ($20 or $30 barrel) oil is no longer available, because most of the “easy to extract” oil is gone. The cost of extracting oil keeps rising, but the ability of oil-importing economies to pay for this oil does not. There are no good low-cost substitutes for oil, so substitution is very limited and will continue to be very limited. The big oil-importing economies are already finding themselves in poor financial condition, as higher oil prices lead to cutbacks in discretionary spending and layoffs in discretionary industries. ( Continue… )
”…this is also a year of food deficit, in which we will consume (31 million tons) more grain than farmers produced. If 2013′s harvest does not establish a new world record, the poor are in serious trouble.”
His main point is that thanks to a growing demand for food driven by an increasing population and improving standards of living, along with the conversion of grains into fuel, the world has to break harvest records every year to keep up. Thanks to grain reserves, humanity can weather years that don’t break records, but failing to break records for two or three years in a row means hunger for hundreds of millions because the price of food will spike as speculators capitalize on the fact that low supply relative to demand equates to higher prices. If weather extremes become more and more common, the odds of running out of reserves becomes more and more likely. (See more: Midwestern Drought, Ethanol, & Renewable Fuel Standard) ( Continue… )
China is back in the business of building nuclear reactors after officially lifting a 19-month freeze triggered by last year's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan.
But in that time, its nuclear ambitions have come down a notch or two.
Instead of its pre-Fukushima goal to install 50 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity by 2015, China is now targeting 40 gigawatts, according to an official government white paper released Wednesday.
And Beijing says it is raising safety standards. The new nuclear reactors will have to meet the safety requirement of so-called third-generation reactors, Xinhua reports.
International officials can take some measure of comfort from China's scaled-down ambitions. ( Continue… )
The Utah water board has voted to approve the United States' first commercial oil sands project.
Alberta-based U.S. Oil Sands Inc.expects its new plant will produce an output of 2,000 barrels of petroleum product a day from oil sands by 2013.
Environmental groups say they're likely to appeal Wednesday's decision by the Utah's Water Quality Board, which paved the way for the new plant.
The legal battle over the oil sands has been overshadowed during the past year by the proposed US pipeline from Canadian oil sands. U.S. Oil Sands Inc. has been working since 2005 to obtain permission from the state to develop oil sands in Utah's Book Cliffs.
The Utah Water Quality Board's 9-2 vote upheld a regulator's previous ruling that the project would pose no threat of groundwater pollution. The 213 acres of arid land encompassing the site contains no significant groundwater, according to the state.
The approval comes despite legal challenges from environmental groups. Living Rivers, a Moab, Utah-based ecological restoration group, says that a solvent used in the project could be carcinogenic when mixed with bitumen from the oil sands. While the desert area may not contain groundwater, Living Rivers contends that snowmelt and rain can occasionally saturate the project site. ( Continue… )
A production boom may soon thrust the US ahead of Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest oil producer, the Associated Press reports.
US production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons is set to jump 7 percent in 2012, making it the fourth straight year of crude increases and the biggest single-year gain since 1951.
What's causing the jump? A combination of factors. The 2010 BP oil spill halted production in the Gulf of Mexico; now, oil companies are returning. New drilling techniques allow oil companies to tap huge shale formations in North Dakota and Texas. High oil prices have given US drillers the necessary cash flow to invest in new techniques and explore sources of oil previously thought unobtainable.
Should the US overtake Saudi Arabia as the top oil producer, it would be the first time the US has led the world in 10 years. Saudi Arabia has been the world's biggest producer of oil since 2002. Russia has occupied the No. 2 position since 2003, according to the US Energy Information Administration. ( Continue… )
Michigan is poised to become the first state in the nation to have renewable energy mandated in its constitution.
On Nov. 6, voters will decide the fate of proposal 3, better known as "25 by 25," which would put in their constitution that the state is required to produce a quarter of its electricity from renewable energy by 2025.
Michigan already has a mandate to source 10 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2015, but it's not part of the constitution. Like many states, it has a renewable energy standard that its legislature adopted.
Supporters of proposal 3 argue that when they tried to extend the mandate through the normal legislative route, utilities blocked them. ( Continue… )
After President Obama and Mitt Romney spent three presidential debates steering clear of climate change, there was plenty of hand-wringing among the pundits. The candidates were letting down the electorate. The nation needs serious discussion about the looming challenge.
But what would happen if the solution to climate change turned out to be, well, sort of fun?
What if an inventor went on, say, The Colbert Report, and told the audience he had a neat solution for America's dependence on fossil fuels?
That happened Monday night when Stephen Colbert invited MIT professor Donald Sadoway onto his show to talk about his new battery that can store wind and solar energy for a fraction of the cost of today's batteries.
If his liquid metal battery can be commercialized successfully, it could be a game-changer by making renewable energy far more – (oh, wait, this is getting far too serious). Let Don and Stephen explain: ( Continue… )