Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gasoline Prices

Gasoline prices continue to hover at or above the $3.00/gal. level and crude oil prices remain in the $70-75/bbl. for sweet crude, yet motorists don't seem to have backed off from taking to the road. Prices at the pump vary with more than crude prices, however, and it's other factors that are influencing prices now. One is refinery "turnarounds" which occur about every 12- 18 months in the life of a typical refinery. During turnaround periods, repairs are made and "bottleneck removal" projects are carried out. These latter are usually aimed at increasing production and/or improving the quality of products. A related factor is the number of refineries still in business which is far fewer today than at their peak. Oil companies have shied away from building new refineries because of their high cost and the counter productive activities of enviromental extremist groups who are, in most cases, the same people who have opposed nuclear power plants. This means that equipment in existing refineries has aged and is requiring more frequent maintenance and replacement equipment. The situation leads to tight supplies and upward pressure on prices at the pump.

Fuel Consumption

Motorists can help the situation by consuming less fuel but they won't do it if everyone continues their current driving habits. Those who commute to and from work, school or other activities by themselves should ctart carpooling. In this area of Florida, for example, many workers commute to cities south of us in Palm Beach County, Broward County and even further south into Miami-Dade County. The typical such commute might be a 120 mile round trip and an expenditure of 5 gallons of gasoline with one person in the car. Put a second person in the mix and the consumption per person drops to 2.5 gallons; a third person drops it to 1.67 gallons and so on. Clearly, carpooling saves both fuel and money.

Other ways to cut fuel consumption include maintaining tire pressure at manufacturer's recommended levels; avoidance of quick stops and rapid acceleration; and maintaining a properly tuned engine.

Friday, July 06, 2007

We are still more than16 months away from the 2008 General Election and already the race for the Presidency has heated up as if the election was only a couple months away. The Democrat race is rapidly narrowing down to two candidates, Hilliary and Obama. The Republican race is still a dogfight between a host of candidates with at least two more candidates in the wings, Gingrich and Thompson. If intelligence and experience were the key to getting elected, the GOP race would come down to Romney and Gingrich. Gingrich is carrying some baggage which may be too much for some folks to to overlook. Of the two, Romney is the better bet. Thompson is a darkhorse but a good one to give Romney a fight. He doesn't have the experience of Romney but his popularity could swing the day. Look for a heated Republican Convention next summer.

I remain very concerned about Hillary Clinton. She has a look in her eye that I can only describe as meanness. I don't think she gives a hoot about anyone except Hillary. She's totally lacking in sincerity. Yet, there will be many women who will vote for her for no other reason than she's a woman. Obama is perhaps the most inexperienced candidate among those with a chance of winning nomination. I am also nervous over the fact he was schooled as a muslim. Moderate muslims may be nothing to worry about in terms of terrorism, but their extremist brethren have been successful in intimidating the moderates into not speaking out against terrorism. And that does bother me. John Edwards has blown any chance he may have had to get the nomination. The others are second tier candidates and would require a major catastrope wiping out Obama and Hillary to stand a chance.

The Republican candidates are a mixed bag. The three current front runners, Guilliani, Romney and McCain are still out there, but McCain's campaign is in trouble. No one in the second tier seems ready to break through. Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich are hovering over the scene and Thompson is about to announce his candidacy. Gingrich will probably follow suit. If leadership experience is the key, the nod would logically go to Romney or Guilliani. If looks and appearance are the keys, Romney is the man.