Gas Prices Going Up. Now What?

Here’s a link to a AAA gas price site. The Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Prices momentarily topped $5 /gallon in southern California. The trend is up. The L.A. Times wrote in January that….

“Not only are we worrying about the end of the world in 2012 — thanks, Maya calendar makers — but this also may be the year of the gas-pocalypse, analysts warn. That’s because gasoline prices are the highest ever for the start of the year, and they’re on the rise, supercharged by expensive oil and changes in refinery operations.”

The feeling that we are constantly paying higher and higher prices is reflected further in the article…

“Average gasoline prices are moving up as we enter the new year, a trend that has held since 2008,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, a website that tracks fuel prices. “We’re starting 2012 about 20 cents per gallon higher than 2011, setting up an ugly year for motorists.”

In February of 2008, the average was $1.78 /gallon.

My own expectation is that $5 fuel will be a reality for diesel owners this year. As it was with the last $5 event, it will be a buying opportunity for those looking to buy low mileage diesel trucks. They will just have to wait for prices to come back down to enjoy them. In some areas of the country, gasoline itself will be in the high $4 range, and even above $5 at times.

Why is this happening? The dollar has been weakened. With “Quantitative Easing”, which is not much more complex than printing massive amounts of dollars, the grand old buck is less valuable… and it takes more of them to buy crude oil. This is not the only reason, but it is a huge one. Fuel costs are rising because the raw materials for it start out at higher prices. We are over $106 per barrel at the moment. Additionally, refining costs are rising due to scheduled and unscheduled outages.

The last time around, in 2008, we had fuel theft. Farmers lost diesel from their pump tanks in the fields, mechanical harvesters, trucks and private vehicles. Other non-commercial vehicles had their fuel lines cut and tanks punctured, in order to get at their fuel. Big rigs parked so that their owners could rest in the cabs, were siphoned dry by thieves in the same parking lot. Refueling stations were also pumped-out.

What can you do in advance, to minimize the impact of this trend?

  • Use gas price monitoring sites like GasBuddy.com to check on local prices. Buy cheap!
  • Plan your work so that you complete errands with as few trips from home as possible. Do more on each outing.
  • Travel when traffic is light, to minimize slow and stop-and-go fuel-wasting driving.
  • Don’t carry extra “stuff” in your trunk or bed. Decreased weight = savings.
  • Keep your tires inflated. Seriously. No, it won’t cure the nation’s ills as one gentleman suggested, but it will save you  few bucks – more, if it prevents a blow out.
  • Install locking gas caps, and motion activated vehicle alarms.
  • Park in lighted areas.
  • Watch your neighbor’s cars, and ask them to watch yours.
  • Put your dog to work….
  • If you are a commercial operator, install anti-siphon valves in your tanks.
  • Farmers – if possible, keep little fuel in equipment until needed. Replace on demand. Use transfer tanks and portable refueling rigs.
  • Truckers, park in rest areas where there is a lot of activity.

 

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