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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Global Gas Prices

Have you ever been to Europe? Have you ever spent enough time and got around enough to notice how the people there live? Their lifestyle is markedly different than the lifestyle of Americans. Energy is one enormous difference. I'm talking about the price of gasoline.

Europeans don't have big cars. They don't have big RV's. They don't have SUV's. They don't have massive freeway systems. They do have trains, planes, boats, scooters, trolley's, subway's and other forms of efficient (public) transportation. They also walk a lot.

Europeans generally live more densely than Americans do. Their cities don't sprawl for miles and miles. They don't have far-flung suburbs. Even in the largest cities, like London, they don't stray far from the little villages that they live in. They may take the Tube to the city for work, but at home they'll putter around the few blocks where they live. An amazing number of Europeans don't own or lease cars.

So what's up with Europe? Well, their gasoline prices have, for the past twenty years, been double or triple the prices that we paid here in the U.S. And it's still that way today. Think we have pain at the gas pumps here in the U.S.? Consider this:

On June 2nd, the U.S. Dept. of Energy surveyed and found that the national average price at the pump for a gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. was $4.20. We see that number in utter despair and hopelessness. However, the same survey looked at the same national average price at the pump for the same gallon of gasoline elsewhere --- and look what it found:
  • $8.74 per gallon in the United Kingdom
  • $9.89 per gallon in the Netherlands
  • $8.93 per gallon in Italy
  • $8.93 per gallon in Germany
  • $8.80 per gallon in France
  • $9.20 per gallon in Belgium
Note that gasoline in Europe is sold in litres and paid for with British Sterling or the Euro - so these rates reflect those conversions.

It would seem that we Americans don't have it nearly as bad as our contemporaries in Western Europe. On the other hand, it would seem that we have a long way to go before we exhaust the lifestyle changes that those kinds of prices force on a society.

I wonder what it'll be like when the hostile, oil-rich nations force America to behave like Europe.

Think I'm being too cynical about these (mostly Islamic) hostile, oil-rich nations? Let's take a look at what they are paying for a gallon gas at the pump:

  • $1.02 per gallon in Bahrain (as of April 29th)
  • $1.48 per gallon in Brunei (as of June 5th)
  • $1.21 per gallon in Egypt (as of May 5th)
  • $0.42 per gallon in Iran (as of May 5th, 2007)
  • $0.79 per gallon in Kuwait (as of April 13th, 2006)
  • $0.45 per gallon in Saudi Arabia (as of May 5th, 2007)
  • $0.19 per gallon in Venezuela (as of January 12th, 2008)
Note that gasoline in these countries is sold in litres and paid for in the local currency, so these rates reflect those conversions.

Source for both lists is CNN and U.S. Dept. of Energy

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