Gas Prices

Friday, October 28, 2005

Senator Frist Orders Probe Into High Gas Prices

Republican Bill Frist is breaking ranks with the White House.

Amid record-high earnings from oil companies, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Thursday ordered a Senate hearing with testimony from major oil company executives on why energy prices are high.

The unexpected announcement by the chamber's top Republican showed the growing political pressure as American consumers brace for higher winter heating costs at the same time energy companies are reporting fat profits.

"If there are those who abuse the free enterprise system to advantage themselves and their businesses at the expense of all Americans, they ought to be exposed, and they ought to be ashamed," Frist said in a statement.

The Senate leader also asked the chamber's permanent subcommittee on investigations to launch an inquiry into energy price profiteering. "And ultimately, if the facts warrant it, I will support a federal anti-price gouging law," he said. [...]

Frist said he asked the Senate Energy Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee to hold a joint hearing to look at the reasons behind energy prices. He did not say if a date has yet been set.

"I have asked them to call as witnesses executives from the major oil companies and representatives of the state attorneys general, who have the initial responsibility of keeping the behavior of local energy providers on the straight and narrow," Frist said. [...]

On Thursday, Exxon Mobil reported third-quarter earnings of $9.9 billion -- one of the largest quarterly profits in U.S. corporate history.

"We need to increase refinement capacity, provide more energy resources, encourage conservation, invest in science and technology, and, most importantly, transition toward energy independence, including the use of more alternative fuels," Frist said.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Sales Increase for Smaller Cars

People are shunning gas guzzling fuck-u-mobiles for smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles:

In a flashback to the 1980s, high gas prices pushed smaller cars to the top of the list of biggest percentage sales gains in September. Among the biggest gainers are models not normally in the limelight: Dodge Neon, Chevrolet Malibu and Nissan Sentra.

The five vehicles showing the biggest percentage increases in September over a year ago were all smaller cars, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Autodata sales figures for vehicles that sold at least 10,000 units. By contrast, four of the five biggest percentage losers were SUVs or pickups.

"The two hurricanes and the subsequent spike in gas prices led consumers to reconsider their traditional car-buying choices," says Mark McCready of CarsDirect.com.

The September sales increases show that consumers are interested in different high-mileage vehicles, not just the hot-selling gas-electric hybrid models.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

SUV Demand Drops with Rising Gas Prices

Apparently people can't afford gas guzzling SUVs anymore:


The sale of sport utility vehicles in North America plummeted last month, as gas prices rose above $1 a litre across most of Canada and to $3 US a gallon south of the border. [...]

Sales of large SUVs were down 50 per cent last month in Canada from levels recorded a year earlier, according to data released by automakers on Monday.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Natural Gas Prices Set New Record

From the New York Times:

Natural gas prices set a new record today, presaging higher heating bills for a majority of Americans this winter as well as soaring costs for industrial manufacturers of such products as plastics and chemicals.

Since the beginning of the summer, the price of natural gas has doubled. But unlike crude oil or gasoline, whose recent gains have been widely felt by most Americans, the surge in natural gas prices, the most popular form of energy for home heating, has so far gone largely unnoticed.

That is about to change as colder weather sets in. A hot summer, which pushed up natural gas consumption by electricity companies and depleted winter stocks, is expected to give way to a cold winter, which will push up residential consumption. Meanwhile, the Gulf Coast, the nation's largest energy hub, has suffered devastating punches from two severe hurricanes.

All these factor have now come together to create a natural gas crisis. [...]

Natural prices for November delivery gained 9.6 cents, or 0.7 percent, to close at $14.20 per thousand cubic feet this afternoon on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after trading as high as $14.58.

Natural gas now costs more than three times the $4.70 it averaged since 2000 and seven times the average price of the 1990's, which was $2 a thousand cubic feet.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Hurricane Rita Spikes Gas Prices

From ABC News:

Pump prices, which are already 47 percent higher than a year ago at $2.75 per gallon, could once again climb above $3 a gallon nationwide, analysts said. Supply snags are most problematic for the Gulf Coast, but markets in the East and Midwest are also vulnerable.

Twenty refineries along the Gulf Coast remained closed on Saturday, including four that were badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina almost a month ago. They account for 19 percent of total fuel refining capacity nationwide.