I felt very fortunate the last time I filled up my gas tank.
Early yesterday morning, with rush-hour traffic on the verge of clogging Baltimore’s beltway, I was greeted by my low-gas light blinking on the dashboard. I had a scant few minutes before my twenty-minute commute would double in length.
It was a now-or-never point for me — risk it all and make the trek to work, hoping I don’t run out, or take a few minutes and hit my local pump.
I decided prudence was the smart option.
Besides, the thought of walking on the side of the highway with a defeated look carrying a gas can didn’t hold much appeal.
One glance at the station’s sign didn’t improve my mood. I knew I had another $70 fill-up in my future. But this time, the sting of $4 gas wasn’t as excruciating.
Thankfully — for the sake of my gas pump sanity — I was following a Hummer. And watching its driver fill up his behemoth made me feel on top of the world.
I couldn’t help watching his downcast eyes look everywhere except at the price ticking upward. He seemed to have a bottomless tank.
Long after my tank was filled, I continued to watch the scene in front of me, knowing deep down that his troubles are only just beginning…
A Road Map Beyond $5 Gas
Living in the Northeastern U.S. my entire life, I’ve never felt the pump pain as harshly as my Californian readers have.
When oil prices first jumped above triple digits a few years ago, I made a small mention in these pages about the pain caused by $4/gallon gas. After hearing about some of your horror stories at the pump, I felt lucky.
One reader in particular really earned my sympathy. Two days ago, I found him once again in my thoughts…
You say you’re scared of a $5 price tag for a gallon of gas? My poor reader living near Death Valley, California, already knows that pain — a gallon of gas in his parts costs $5.47!
And according to the EIA, things are about to get even worse.
The EIA’s Summer Gas Outlook: Buy a Bike
Goldman Sachs might have turned bearish recently, but the Energy Information Administration has sent the message loud and clear: Get ready for a price spike.
Just one glance at their outlook for transportation fuel markets this summer, and you can see that we’re right back where we started when crude oil cost $147 per barrel:
According to the EIA’s latest Short-Term Energy and Summer Fuels Outlook, our demand for liquid fuels is projected to rise by 210,000 barrels per day in 2011 — or roughly 1.1%.
Transportation fuels make up 75% of the growth for total consumption this year.
Next year, transportation fuels are expected to account for nearly all of liquid fuels growth in 2012.
This summer driving season, they’re projecting that regular-grade gasoline will average $3.86 per gallon. That’s a 40% year-over-year jump.
Sad to say, but this is a sight we may never see again:
If I get a dose of nostalgia for gas under $2 per gallon, I can only imagine how some of you feel from seeing seventy cents per gallon decades ago…
Prepare for the Summer Gas Spike
It’s coming, and there’s not much you can do to stop it. Aside from the ever-growing price of oil, there are other factors at work here.
For starters, summer-blend gasoline is about to make an appearance.
Typically, there are two points during the year when we make the switch between summer- and winter-blend gasoline. Obviously right now, we’re in the transition from winter-blend to summer-blend.
The difference is basically with the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP). RVP is a measure of the volatility of gasoline. The trick is that the more volatile the gasoline is, the more it will evaporate with higher temperatures.
Although the summer-blend is more expensive (which has a lower RVP), you’ll get a little extra mileage out of it.
The switch is just in time for another annual event: The beginning of the summer driving season.
(You can see that demand increase for yourself from looking at some EIA data.)
But there are a few ways to ease that pain at the pump…
Ten Gas Saving Tips
Normally, I like to dish out a few gas saving tips during the height of the summer driving season.
But with the gas price spike on its way, I think we’ll both be better off knowing a few of these tricks before that time comes:
Avoid topping off your tank. I know you want to cram as much as possible into the tank, but try to stick with the automatic click-off.
Think buying the higher octane gasoline will save you in the long run? Think again… It’s completely unnecessary, unless your car needs it.
Try to use cruise control as often as possible. Not only will you save a little bit by not hitting the accelerator, but you might also save yourself from an unwanted ticket.
Don’t drive aggressively.
Change your oil at regular intervals.
Drive at lower speeds to help increase fuel efficiency.
Always keep your tires properly inflated.
Check and replace your air filter.
Try to not leave your car running idle for hours on end.
Be sure to take your car in for maintenance regularly.
Of course, if you want to feel a little better about how much money you’re spending to fill your own car’s tank, you could always just find a Hummer and follow it around until it hits a pump station…
Until next time,
Editor, Energy and Capital
P.S. Now that the U.S. government is desperately trying to lower foreign oil imports from politically unstable regions like the Middle East, the fact remains that we’re going to have to get our crude from somewhere… Fortunately, Obama has already hinted at where we’ll find our future oil supply: Canada. And thanks to the revolutionary changes being made in oil sands production, this company is going to make my readers a small fortune. Take a moment and learn how you can join their profits.