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Gasoline demand shows signs of weakness as prices rise
Brad Foss, Associated Press via Detroit News
U.S. motorists will spend an estimated $20.5 billion more on gasoline over the next six months than they did the same time last year, the government says, because of higher prices and increased demand. But they're not happy about the trend, and may just drive less.
"That's it? That's it for $20 bucks?" said Laurie Payne of Plano, Texas, as she topped off the tank of her Land Rover with $2.85-a-gallon regular unleaded and swore the day she trades it in is getting closer.
Some analysts say growth in gasoline consumption, which has been below historical norms since the start of the year, could stall out entirely by summer if forecasts of rising pump prices are correct. While this might crimp consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of total economic growth, analysts said the impact should be minimal.
...However, the nation's appetite for gasoline is not growing that fast right now, and the possibility of even higher prices in the months ahead has led some analysts to warn of a likely further cooling of demand.
(15 April 2006)
Nigeria: worse than Iraq?
Jeffrey Tayler, Atlantic
Nigeria's president and onetime hope for a stable future is leading his country toward implosion—and possible U.S. military intervention.
With an ethnically and religiously combustible population of 130 million, Nigeria is lurching toward disaster, and the stakes are high—for both Nigeria and the United States. An OPEC member since 1971, Nigeria has 35.9 billion barrels of proven petroleum reserves—the largest of any African country and the eighth largest on earth. It exports some 2.5 million barrels of oil a day, and the government plans to nearly double that amount by 2010. Nigeria is the fifth-largest supplier of oil to the United States; U.S. energy officials predict that within ten years it and the Gulf of Guinea region will provide a quarter of America's crude.
It is hardly surprising, then, that since 9/11 the Bush administration has courted Nigeria as an alternative to volatile petro-states in the Middle East and Latin America. In 2002, the White House declared the oil of Africa (five other countries on the continent are also key producers) a "strategic national interest"—meaning that the United States would use military force, if necessary, to protect it. In short, Nigeria's troubles could become America's and, like those of the Persian Gulf, cost us dearly in blood and money.
The article at the Atlantic site is subscription-only. It is also posted at Earth Rights.
Rocketing oil prices cause concern in Ireland
Laura Noonan, The Post (Ireland)
... Oil, it seems, has toppled off the public agenda. But if consumers have grown complacent, that sentiment could not be more misplaced. Experts said that last week’s rise could be as significant as the crisis last summer.
Rocketing oil prices are by no means unfamiliar territory, but last week’s peaks were exceptional.
Usually spikes in oil prices occur in the summer and autumn, as the hurricane season in the United States hits production, and demand for fuel peaks with the beginning of the driving season.
This time around, oil has hit record highs long before the first hurricane and the world’s motorists embark on their summer expeditions.
...The good news is that increases in the price of crude should not immediately translate into rises in the price we pay for petrol, home-heating fuel and transport. The bad news is that the increases could eventually affect us all.
(16 April 2006)
India Energy crisis looms large, Govt decides on cut for industries
Express News Service (India)
Gandhinagar: FACED with energy crisis, the Modi Government has decided to impose from Saturday a one-day a week staggering on all non-continuous HT/LT industries across Gujarat to maintain power supply in the agriculture sector.
Gujarat has been facing power shortage since February last when it stopped receiving 220 MW from the central grid, which has diverted this quota of power to the neighbouring Maharashtra. The present power shortage in Gujarat is also being attributed to the break-down in one of the five Ukai thermal units and in a 200 MW plant at Vanakbori.
Minister of State for Energy Saurabh Patel told The Indian Express on Friday that the one-day a week staggering on industries coming into force from tomorrow would help Guarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) to maintain at least an eight-hour supply in the farm sector, so as to help farmres to save their standing summer crops, mainly in North Gujarat.
(15 April 2006)
A future without oil?
Elizabeth Douglass, LA Times
...Spallino is part of an accelerating push toward alternative forms of energy. Researchers and investors — and President Bush — are talking hopefully about powering cars and trucks with hydrogen and fuels made from corn, prairie grass, even French fry grease. Despite scientific advances, increased investment and unprecedented political backing, plenty of potholes remain.
The most daunting of those is the magnitude of the task. Cars, trucks, trains, planes and other vehicles account for 7 of every 10 barrels of oil consumed in the U.S.
With such a deep reliance on oil, the transportation world has been nearly impervious to change. Electric-hybrid vehicles are barely a blip, alternative fuels have made only tiny inroads, and a push for more fuel-efficient cars has stalled under the Bush administration.
"In the transportation sector, we've essentially made no progress in the last 25 years," said Daniel Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis.
...proponents believe the decades of inertia could be broken by a rare convergence of technology, money, political will and motivated motorists.
(16 April 2006)
No mention of peak oil. The issue is framed as maintaining cheap transport fuel for Americans. -BA
Researchers sequence genome of hydrogen-producing bacterium
Green Car Congress
Scientists at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) have sequenced the genome of Carboxydothermus hydrogenoformans, a fast-growing thermophilic microbe that lives on carbon monoxide and produces hydrogen gas and CO2 as waste.
The analysis of the genome is providing insights into the metabolism of this organism that should aid those trying to develop this and similar species into systems to produce hydrogen gas biologically from water.
(2 December 2005)
Cars last longer with rust on the run
Better metals and coatings credited
Frank Greve, Knight Ridder Newspapers via Detroit Free Press
WASHINGTON -- Victory is at hand in the auto industry's 30-year war against rust.
No more Ford trucks with tailgates that look like decayed teeth. No more Toyota Celicas with see-through wheel wells. No more VWs with college cafeteria trays covering rusted-out floor pans.
"Rust has virtually gone away," declared David Champion, director of automotive testing for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, the leading U.S. car-buying guide.
...Improved body metals that resist rust are the big reason, plus rust-discouraging vehicle designs and better primers, paints and sealants. They add roughly $200 to new car costs, but enhanced rust resistance, along with improved corrosion-fighting in cooling and exhaust systems, is a big reason cars last longer, said L. Lee Piepho, 59, of Howell, who was GM's top rust-fighter.
The improvements are helping cars' longevity.
(13 April 2006)