$4-a-gallon Gas by Spring?

Jan. 3, 2008: Source – Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gas Pump

As if to answer what 2008 will bring in the world of green motoring, the global price of oil passed the symbolic mark of $100 per barrel yesterday. In other words: Expect to see$4 for a gallon of gasoline and major car companies tripping over each other in the race for a greener image.

Gas prices typically slide to an annual low in late winter, and then climb in the spring. That slide was anything but typical in late 2007 with prices peaking in November and holding strong through December—setting up a run to $4 a gallon by this spring.

The crossing of the $100 per barrel oil price was fueled by worries about supplies and inventories with stronger demand for heating oil; as well as political instability or potential terrorism in Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Nigeria. These supply-side influences are exacerbated by spectacular growth in energy use in China and India. That’s not going to change.

Yet, high prices have not quenched Americans’ demand for oil. Americans emptied an average of 20.68 million barrels a day in 2006, a million-barrel increase since 2002, according to government statistics. The rest of the world exhibits a similar appetite.

The breaking of the symbolic triple-digit oil price occurs as the auto industry puts the final touches on its press releases for the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which kicks off later this month. With the threat of $4-a-gallon gasoline looming for later this year, crystal balls are not necessary to predict that hybrids and other green-mobiles will take center stage.

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