Much ink has been spilled lately on the price of gas in the U.S. For me, it’s not so much the cost -- it is what it is and you pay it or you don’t drive -- it’s the rapid rise in the price that makes me crazy. A jump of over 20 cents overnight is unjustifiable in the absence of a catastrophe somewhere.
Having said that, our prices here in the U.S. are actually much lower than in many countries. A few countries, like Venezuela and Iraq, have prices that are a lot lower.
The main factor in price disparities between countries is government policy, according to AirInc, a company that tracks the cost of living in various places around the world. "Many European nations tax gasoline heavily, with taxes making up as much as 75 percent of the cost of a gallon of gasoline. In a few Latin America and Middle-East nations, such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, oil is produced by a government-owned company and local gasoline prices are kept low as a benefit to the nation's citizens."
I did a bit of research and put together the following list of current average gas prices around the world, converted to U.S. currency and converted to gallons from liters (most other countries sell “petrol” by the liter), listed most expensive to least.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: $7.12
London, U.K.: $7.03
Oslo, Norway: $6.80
Copenhagen, Denmark: $6.68
Paris, France: $6.04
Athens, Greece: $5.12
Sofia, Bulgaria: $4.24
Santiago, Chile: $4.20
Hamilton, Bermuda: $4.10
Queenstown, New Zealand: $3.73
Vancouver, BC, Canada: $3.52
Johannesburg, South Africa: $3.32
Hilo, Hawaii, USA: $3.30
Los Angeles, California, USA: $3.00
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA: $2.48
St. Petersburg, Russia: $2.23
Beijing, China: $2.12
San Juan, Puerto Rico: $2.01
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: $1.50
Lagos, Nigeria: $0.62
Baghdad, Iraq: $0.40
Caracas, Venezuela: $0.15
No doubt you’ve seen the General Motors’ “Live Green Go Yellow” commercials touting their E85 (85% ethanol blend) alternative fuel. This sounds like a great idea, fuel from corn! However, things are not always what they seem.
According to the Green Car Congress website: “Because ethanol has less energy than gasoline, engines consume more to deliver equivalent power—in other words, burn E85, and your fuel consumption increases.
As an example, the 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe FFV delivers 13 mpg combined when burning E85 and 17 mpg combined when using gasoline—in other words, due to its lower energy content, ethanol imposes a 23% fuel consumption penalty in this vehicle. The Chevrolet Impala FFV delivers 19 mpg with E85, versus 24 mpg with gasoline—a 21% penalty.
E85 pricing tends to track with gasoline pricing, for a number of reasons. Add in the increasing demand for ethanol both as a standard blending component in gasoline as well as in higher-concentration E85 blends, and the price delta between E85 and regular gasoline may not be enough to offset the decreased fuel efficiency vehicles deliver when running on E85. According to the most recent (September 2005) Alternative Fuel Price Report from the DOE, E85 averaged $2.41/gallon and regular gasoline averaged $2.77 for that reporting period—a 13% difference.”
Well now, that doesn’t really sound like it’s worth it, does it? I’m not a scientist, or a socio-economic expert, but I do know that we are going to run out of oil, sooner rather than later. You can make a car run on just about anything, including used cooking oil (known as “biodiesel”) and ethanol, a major by-product of (among other things) sugar cane. Why aren’t the car manufacturers jumping on this bandwagon and offering vehicles already set up to run on alternative fuels? Because they don’t have to. I don’t have any answers here, just venting and throwing the topic out there.
I took this picture in Hilo, Hawaii when we were there in September, I had never seen a 4 on a gas sign before. I think I will soon see it again, and a lot closer to home.