Shaking Oil

February 14, 2012

First: I usually don’t post anything on oil/gas prices until I put a little fuel in my increasingly fragile Jeep, but after reports of such strange, and accelerating-upward pump prices in recent days, some investigation seem warranted.
Pump shock has already put the US on a course to reach record price levels this year.

Second: Yesterday afternoon for a few seconds, life spun seemingly out of control as we experienced a 5.6 earthquake in the area, a shaker centered not too far away.
In the middle of working up a weekly order with a liquor salesman, the bottles began to slowly rattle, clink and jerk as the whole scene started weaving around, putting a freak-out on the brain.
We beat a hasty retreat out of the store — fortunately, the quake wasn’t crazy and there was no damage.
The feeling, though, is a quick, horror of baby-like fright.

(Illustration found here).

The shaker from two years ago permanently spooked me bad.
But this from the San Francisco Chronicle kind of pissed me off: Seismologists say the far-northern coast of California is the most seismically active area in the state, but the potential for damage and injuries there is smaller because it’s less populated.
What an asshole!
No problem, there’s just not enough people up here for anybody to give a shit.
Of course, understandably the bulk of resources should be in those high-dense populated areas to the south of us — big buildings, a shitload of people running around screaming — where the chance of damage and injury are so much greater.
But still…

Anyway, those pump prices are something, huh?
The cost of fuel has jumped in the last couple of weeks, the highest the tag’s been this early in the year.
From the LA Times:

The national average hit $3.523 a gallon, the Energy Department said Monday, up 4.1 cents from a week earlier.
Analysts said the early price shocker is likely a sign that pain at the pump will rise to some of the highest levels ever this year.
“This definitely sets the stage, potentially, for much higher prices later this year,” said Brian L. Milne, refined-fuels editor for Telvent DTN, a commodity information services firm.
“There’s a chance that the U.S. average tops $4 a gallon by June, with some parts of the country approaching $5 a gallon.”
Even in 2008, the year that average gasoline prices hit records above $4 nationally and in California during the summer, the U.S. average didn’t climb above $3.50 until April 21, according to the Energy Department’s weekly survey of service stations.
The $3.50 mark also was breached last year, but not until March 6.

And this touch from us earthquake-happy California peoples: We’re paying an average of $3.835 for a gallon of regular, up more than 7.5 cents from just a week ago, and although now going up, February is usually a time prices go the other way.
Up here along the state’s northern coast, the price is already at $4.05 a gallon for regular — we’re ahead of the curve, yip-pee.

Driving the prices up is the specter of war in the Middle East and to increased uncertainty on what is actually going on — if the Iranian situation goes hot, then all bets are off.
According to Bloomberg this morning:

Oil for March delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose as much as 74 cents to $101.65 a barrel, the highest since Jan. 19, and was at $101.57 at 10:40 a.m. London time.
Prices are 20 percent higher than a year ago.
Brent oil for March settlement gained 24 cents to $118.17 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.
The contract expires today.
The more-actively traded April future was up 22 cents at $117.61.
The European benchmark contract’s premium to New York-traded West Texas Intermediate narrowed to $16.60 from $17.02.
It reached a record of $27.88 on Oct. 14.

However, we’re yet in an Eurozone-like place, but maybe just wait: Today in Europe, with the Straits of Hormuz wide open, European gasoline buyers pay an average of around $2.15 or 1.60 euro per litre. This is $8.05 for one US gallon and $335 per barrel.
We’re getting there.

Just like a lot of other shit, humankind is way-slow in shifting life — a bad intersection doesn’t get stop signs until there’s a few horrible car wrecks and we should be really working hard to figure out an energy source beyond an oil-based civilization.
Although there’s some move in green energies, wind power and so forth, but will it take an 8.0 earthquake-like event to accelerate the process?
Scares the living’ shit out of me.

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