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home : news : e-news October 17, 2018

2/13/2018 8:14:00 PM
Enjoy!
The price at Murphy Express dropped another two cents a gallon after this photo Monday night.(Lincoln Herald Staff Photos)
The price at Murphy Express
dropped another two cents a gallon
after this photo Monday night.


(Lincoln Herald Staff Photos)

Lower gas prices have made electric cars less desirable for many.  Predictions are, however, that by the mid part of next decade, there will be as many electric vehicles as gas or diesel powered ones.  This charging station is at Ingle's on East Main Street in Lincolnton.
Lower gas prices have made electric cars
less desirable for many.  Predictions are,
however, that by the mid part of next
decade, there will be as many electric
vehicles as gas or diesel powered ones. 
This charging station is at Ingle's
on East Main Street in Lincolnton.


Wayne Howard
Staff Writer


Having watched oil prices longer than some Lincoln Herald readers have been alive, I can tell you that it's about as easy to predict the weather long-term as oil prices.  Things happen.  Sometimes wars, sometimes floods, and occasionally somebody choosing a short-term gain over a long-term profit.

Oil prices dropped drastically a couple of years ago when OPEC made a decision to let oil prices fall in order to shut down some of the US producers.  It worked--for awhile. Some of the fracking operations were shut down as the price of crude dropped below a figure where it was profitable.  In those days, companies needed $60 a barrel to make a profit on fracked oil.  

Now OPEC has tried to shrink the oversupply of oil in stockpiles by cutting production.  So far, that has been relatively successful--but last week, the price of crude, which had made its way to $66 a barrel, dipped to below $60 a barrel again.  One of the 'wild cards' in the current scenario is US production--which was larger last week than at any time since 1970.

Fracking operations can now operate very profitably with $50 a barrel oil--and in some cases, a profit can be made at half that price.  Why?  A combination of improved technology and reduced labor costs.  The companies are employing fewer people--and in many cases, they're paying them considerably less.  

Yet another 'wild card' is the oil that can be produced from oil sands.  That production, extracing oil from bitumen has had a reputation of being 'dirty oil.'  The biggest production of oil sands oil has been in the Alberta province in Canada.  

Surely you are aware of the Keystone Pipeline.  You may not be aware that three of the four phases of the pipeline are already in use, shipping oil sands oil from Alberta to US refineries--mostly on the Gulf Coast.  President Trump gave the go-ahead for the fourth phase in January of last year.

Rotary - 2018 Man Year

Alberta's production is revving up--and they're not waiting on shipping more southward. The Canadian central government and Alberta provincial leaders are currently involved in a tussle with leaders from British Columbia over expanding shipping of oil from Vancouver.

The cost of producing oil sands oil has also declined--and continues to decline. In addition to a huge supply in Alberta, there is a substantial amount available in Utah in the US. Environmentalists are opposed to going after that oil, but as technology improves, it may become an even bigger part of US production than fracking.

Interesting though all of this may be, what you probably want to know is what you can expect to be paying at the pump for gas. The answer is that while there may be a short-term decline (small, remaining above $2 a gallon), it is likely that unless US production is stepped up even more, there will be a slight increase over the next few months. But the good news is that it won't be big--and while you most likely won't see gas at less than $2 a gallon, you also won't have to pay over $3 a gallon for the rest of this year.

While almost everybody uses gas, those who use heating oil or propane for heating their homes are struggling this year with the highest prices in two years.  Heating oil was running over $2.80 a gallon last week while propane was over $3 a gallon for the third week in a row--an increase of 30¢ a gallon from a year ago.  Those prices are not likely to go down much until the heating season ends.


 
As of August 2017, according to a Pew Research Center survey, 43% of Americans said they were getting news online, just 7 percentage points lower than the 50% who said they got their news on television. Based on trends from recent years, it's likely that the internet will surpass television as a primary news source this year.  

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