Thursday, November 29, 2007

Singapore's Pump Prices Up Again

Pump prices went up again. There are more cars and drivers than there used to be. The uprising China and India demand more energy. The world is also experiencing more and more extreme weather conditions which require more energy to cool down or heat up the homes and offices but the world's oil supply is following an opposite trend. Can our government bring down the price of oil?

*You can purchase the informative "The Oil Age" poster online. It describes the world oil production and depletion problem, shows a detailed map of the current world oil reserves and explains the important use of oil in various industries like food and plastic production.

The following article titled Oil Prices: It Gets Worse was obtained from Time.com

This gloomy assessment comes from the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based organization representing the 26 rich, gas-guzzling member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The agency is not known for alarmist warnings, and its World Energy Outlook is typically viewed by policy wonks as a solid indicator of global energy supplies. In a marked change from its traditionally bland, measured tones, the IEA's 2007 report says governments need to make urgent, bold decisions on energy policy, or risk massive environmental and energy-supply crises within two decades — crises and shortages that could spark serious global conflicts.

"I am sorry to say this, but we are headed toward really bad days," IEA chief economist Fatih Birol told TIME this week. "Lots of targets have been set but very little has been done. There is a lot of talk and no action."

The reason for the IEA's alarm is its expectation that economic development will raise global energy demands by about 50% in a generation, from today's 85 million barrels a day to about 116 million barrels a day in 2030. Nearly half that increase in demand will come from just two countries — China and India, which are electrifying hundreds of cities and putting millions of new cars on their roads, most driven by people who once walked, or rode bicycles and buses. By 2030, those two countries will be responsible for two-thirds of the world's carbon gas emissions, which are the primary human activity causing global warming.

India and China have argued against enforcing strict emission controls in their countries, on the grounds that these could hinder their economic growth and prompt a global economic slowdown. But the new IEA report says working with China and India on alternative energy sources and curbing emissions is a matter of global urgency.

The bad news is not only environmental. As the world scrambles to boost energy supplies over the next two decades, an ever-greater percentage of its supplies of oil and gas will come from a dwindling number of countries, largely arrayed around the Persian Gulf, as the massive North Sea and Gulf of Mexico deposits are finally exhausted. That will leave the industrialized countries far more dependent on the volatile Middle East in 2030 than they are today, and the likes of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran will dictate terms to companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron, which increasingly operate as contractors to state-run oil companies in many producer nations.

"Most of the oil companies are going to be in an identity crisis, and need to redefine their business strategies," Birol says. The soul-searching may have already begun, as oil executives begin sounding the alarm about the supply crunch that lies ahead. Last week, Christophe de Margerie, CEO of the French oil giant Total, told the Financial Times that even the target of 100 million barrels a day is an optimistic one for an industry that currently produces 85 million — far short of the 116 million barrels a day the IEA projects will be needed by 2030 to fuel the global economy.

And in a sharp departure from the usually reassuring comments offered by Big Oil executives, De Margerie said companies and governments now realize that they have overestimated the amount of oil that could be extracted from places difficult to reach and costly to explore. "It is not my view, it is the industry view," he said. In other words, the message is that the current sky-high oil prices may not be a temporary burden on the world economy.

Forecasting prices, however, has become an increasingly inexact science for analysts, as prices in recent months have galloped ahead of their worst predictions. Says Oswald Clint, a London-based analyst for Sanford Bernstein: "A year ago, our predictions for November 2007 were about $50 to $62 dollars a barrel" — at least $35 short of Tuesday's price. The oil-research firm predicts that expanded production will bring oil prices back to $70 a barrel by 2010. But to Birol, that sounds optimistic.

"If you want to lower prices you have to slow down oil demand growth in China and India, use cars more efficiently, use biofuels, and also convince producing countries to pump more oil," says Birol. But he is uncertain any of that will happen. "I don't see the political will." Then again, nothing fuels political will like a soaring price at the gas pump.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The tax the Singapore govt collects for fuel is based on the pump price, ie. before discount. It accounts for more than half the pump price.

This means that:
- the govt gains when prices go up
- the petrol companies aren't really free to adjust prices downwards to become more competitive as this would be at he govt's expense
- the govt is part of the cartel
- you pay tax twice: ad valorem tax + GST
- you can act on Lim Hng Kiang's advice to switch to cheaper products, unless you top up in JB

PAPAYA said...

Dub forget the 3/4 tank rule if u intend to punp in JB. Whichever way, motorists are screwed