Saturday, May 31, 2008

And You Think You Have It Bad?

Interesting piece in today's Chronicle Herald on the price of gasoline, worldwide. I hear lots of American friends complain about the price of gas - $4 a gallon doesn't sound pretty. But when you convert that to litres, it works out to around $1.05 a litre. Gas here today is $1.36 a litre ... that's roughly $5.44 a gallon for my American friends.

But that, as they say, is nothing. Check out these prices.

In France, petrol runs about C$2.60 a litre ... that's $10.90 a gallon. In Turkey, it's even worse - over C$2.89. You might want to sit down now ... that's a whipping $11.56 a gallon. Filling up the tank of a mid-size car there can reach nearly $200.

But hey, it's all just a matter of supply and demand, right?

Then figure this. Russia is the world’s second-leading producer of oil, what do you think they pay? About 92 cents a litre ... or $3.68 a gallon. Which, to add insult to injury, although that's roughly the same as in the United States, workers in the US earn about six times as much money at those in Russia.

So why is it that even large oil producers (like Canada) take the hit?
Much of the Russian cost comes from taxes, which run between 60 and 70 per cent. Limited refining capacity and the costs of transporting gasoline across the country’s vast expanse also push up prices.
Okay, that might help explain it a bit. I know, for example, that here in Nova Scotia, combined federal and provincial taxes make up roughly 1/3 of the hit.

Not that those prices (taxes or not) are having that supposedly desirous effect of making people drive less. Nope, the world is driving more than ever. There are 887 million vehicles in the world, up from 553 million just 15 years ago, and it is estimated that the figure will be one billion four years from now. Impressive, no?

Want to hear something that will really make your blood boil? Wait, you best sit down first. No, trust me. Really. Ready?

They say Venezuela is a "veritable wonderland for gas guzzlers". No wonder, when gas is only 12 cents a gallon. Yep, that would be approximately 3 cents a litre!

Yeah, I know. Suddenly I don't feel much like bothering with supper tonight either. The stomach's a little queasy. Apparently, sales of SUVs are doing quite well there. Uh huh.

Don't look at me. I don't have the answers, other than to tell you that "it could be worse". But I do have to wonder if besides intermittent e-mails finding their way to your inbox recommending boycotts of certain companies, we will start to hear more like this.
Increasingly, people around the world are reaching the boiling point — and it’s not just drivers.

Fishermen in Spain and Portugal began countrywide strikes Friday, keeping their trawlers and commercial boats docked at ports.

In Madrid, demonstrators handed out 20 tonnes of fish in a bid to win support from
the public.

In Spain, the European Union’s most important producer of fish, the fishing confederation estimates fuel prices have gone up 320 per cent in the past five years — so high that many fishermen can no longer afford to take their boats out.

French fishermen and farmers, who need fuel for trawlers and tractors, say their livelihoods are threatened by soaring prices. They have blocked oil terminals around France and shipping traffic on the English Channel to demand government help.

British and Bulgarian truckers are staging fuel protests, too.

Indonesians are staging their own protests against shrinking gasoline subsidies in a country where nearly half the population of 235 million lives on less than $2 a day.
And I think you might just want to forget any idea that ethanol made from sugar cane might be the answer to the world's woes. Although four of every five new cars sold in Brazil are flex-fuel models that run on pure ethanol, gas or any combination of the two and ethanol in Sao Paulo is running about half the price of gas ... the "price of gas" there is $5.67 per gallon.

1 comment:

PeterGunn said...

One thing that has never made any sense to me is the price of diesel!

It costs less to refine diesel and we get better MPG, but the price is higher than premium gas. If anyone understands this, please explain...