Thursday, September 15, 2005

If you love gasoline and you know it...

There was a blurb about gas prices in Britain hitting $7 a gallon, so I started wondering what prices have been doing around the world. Guess what? I ask, and the government provides. The Department of Energy tracks average weekly gasoline prices in much of Western Europe--probably other places too, but in a change from normal activity, I'm not going to spend an hour looking.

Some quick points I'll draw out of the info (there have been quite a few weeks between 1996 and today).

Starting at the week of 9/11 gas prices in the U.S. began to fall. At the same time, or shortly thereafter, they fell in all other countries in the DOE data. The U.S. didn't return to the same gas price for 71 weeks. The European countries? Between 25 and 40 weeks. Average: 30.2 weeks. This means the U.S.--the world's largest consumer of gasoline, took more than twice as long for gas prices to return UP to pre-9/11 levels than our European counterparts.

When tracking started, January 1st, 1996, the U.S. paid 1/3 as much for gas as our European counterparts. On June 11, 2001 U.S. gas prices "spiked" to 1/2 of European prices. We never hit that level again until this week.

I'll let you each draw your own conclusions, but I wanted to bring this info up a little higher into the world of "real" people.

Here's the data page

This is the broader-level info page

1 comment:

The Old Man said...

In a local newspaper a reader made the comment, "I am not complaining about the high price of gasoline but, my truck just ran out of gas and the insurance company totalled it."
A friend from Uraguay and I were looking at this very table/chart just 2 weeks ago and the interesting thing for me was that the US price today is not even what the other countries were paying 10 years ago. It is not clear from this data set if they have adjusted to constant 2005 $, but I believe not, as these numbers are about what I recall the price to be at that time.
Oh, the great clarity of hindsight... what a nickle a gallon in extra "tax" increased by a nickle each year for the past 10 years would have done to shift the demand for larger V8's to 4 cylinders, hybrids or God forbid, car pools or even the dreaded, "mass transit". This on top of having those same dollars funnelled into funding research and development into the alternatives in energy efficiency. Now, we are paying this extra "tax", but instead of funding better transportation choices we are sending these dollars to OPEC.
I have actually been surprised by the current leadership and their not venturing into the fray with the argument, that we need to build more hydroelectric dams because the cost of filling our gas tanks has increased so markedly. After all, this simply follows the same logic that was foist upon us when there were brown outs in California. The call from leadership at the time was, now that we have serious problems and shortfalls of electricity in California we should now find no compelling reason not to drill for oil in ANWR and support the legislation allowing this to commence. How much oil goes into the production of electrcity and how much hydroelectric generation goes to power our cars?
I read an opinion by an economist about a year ago, that consumption of gasoline in the U.S. would not drop until the price reached about $3.50 per gallon. Looking at the table, data page , and noting the price locally this morning of $2.63, we aren't there yet.