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Continuing unrest in Libya as well as other North African and Middle Eastern countries has led to the highest crude oil prices since 2008, the U.S. Engery Information Administration (EIA) reported March 8.
In correlation to the disturbance of crude oil exports in countries such as Libya, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and other crude oil benchmarks have risen around $15 per barrel since mid-February— $14 higher than previously predicted— allowing an estimation of $105 per barrel of crude oil to refiners in 2011.
Acceleration of spot crude and gasoline prices has begun to affect consumers in retail environments. Increases in pump prices will continue to rise through the spring due to delayed relay between crude oil and gasoline.
Motorists can expect regular-grade gasoline to average around $3.56 per gallon, 77 cents higher than the 2010 average, and 40 cents higher than initially predicted for 2011. However, during the peak driving season, (April through September) EIA predicts drivers will pay $3.70 per gallon, considering regional disparity.
Significant uncertainty within the current market has led analysts to predict there is a 25 percent chance that the national average for gas prices this summer could exceed $4.00 per gallon. This may be due not only to rising crude oil prices, but higher refining margins as well.
As long as world oil markets tighten and unrest persists throughout North Africa and the Middle East—the world’s largest oil producers—uncertainty in the oil market will remain. If instability in the Eastern Hemisphere continues to spread, there will be adverse side effects for the oil market.
Auto Manufacturers such as Chevrolet and Toyota have been strategically reaping the ambiguity facing crude oil.
Although Tesla Motors is given credit with creating the first purely electric car, the roadster (est. 2008; msrp 109,999 and model s (expected to be released in 2012 with a base price of 49,900), Chevrolet and Toyota are making gas and emission free cars more available to middle income families.
Introduced in October 2011, the Chevy Volt is an electric car which uses gas to create its own electricity for up to 40 hours of drive time. Even if the driver is unable to recharge the car, Volt will use a generator which produces several hundreds of miles on a single tank of gas.
Toyota, maker of the hybrid Prius, is expected to release a plug-in version of the popular car in the beginning of 2012. Recently, they and several other companies such as GE and Schneider Electric have begun manufacturing at-home electric car chargers.
The expansion and increase of residential conveniences toward green cars questions when gas powered vehicles will become obsolete. As emission free technology broadens, techniques for finding and extracting oil will as well.
The development of electricity as an alternative dominate energy source seems plausible, but is the world prepared to move away from the internal combustion engine?