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    Posted August 6, 2008 by
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    Pain at the pump

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    THE ENERGY WARS | ADDICTED TO OIL, SOMETHING WE DO NOT PRODUCE! FORT LAUDERDALE | FLORIDA-USA In 1944 the US was only importing 16% of the oil it needed. But in 1950 the US was already depended on the oil from a fragile area of the globe: the Middle East. It important with more than 58% of the economy needs on crude. Today US imports 60% of the its necessity and burns some 21 million gallons a day, 1/3 of the world crude production. In 2006, in his State-OF-The-Union speech to Congress, the president G.W. Bush warned us: "+We are addicted to oil!"+ The energy crisis we are passing thru is bigger than the WWI. This is the reason that it will take time to built the logistics, political will and the technology base needed to end our dependency on fossil fuel and to win this WAR ON ENERGY! Wrong decision. Many decades ago the Western countries make a wrong decision: to base their economic growth on engines using fossil oil, at that time very cheap and abundant. India, China, Asia, were just marginal and forgotten, labeled "third world markets". If we do not find, fast, another sources of energy, to fossil oil and natural gas, this will lead regional wars with China, Russia, India, or other big emerging markets. The Brazilian Example. We all have to study this case. It has to be example the world should follow, with flavors developed by each country. The decision taken during the crisis of the Yom Kippur war of 1973, not to depend on fossil fuel as the primary source of energy, propelled this country from a tourist destination to an economical giant. Since my last report in March, 2008the gas and fuel just went into one direction: forward. The speed of the price increase is fast-constant (steady 1/3 forward) and we are over a historical mark and maybe psychological threshold: the $4.00 for the unleaded gallon. (Correction: already there as of May 21st, 2008). The web is full with of fuel board prices photos...and will keep coming and being posted in big numbers as consumers are coming to age with high prices and try to adjust so many (too many...) limited budgets. In August 2008, the crude prices have receded form a $148.00 all -time record mark and are in the $100 range. The consumption is reduced, and a totally new reality started to dominate the economy, the politics, the society and the consumers. The average price for unleaded, as you can see it at the pomp (in many places), is below $4.00/gallon. Sure, some will argue, Brazil has some unique advantages, with vast geographical areas, tropical climate, big crops and a coherent political will. But this case can be repeated in many other countries around the world. We're record breakers every day! In Chicago or California you can buy the most expensive gasoline, with about $0.30 more than average rest of the country. (As of May 25th, 2008) The myth: the oil is not unlimited. Every day is harder to be found and harvested. More and more, companies have to go to frigid areas or deep marine platforms to find the crude. In the summer of 2007, the crude oil prices were around $60.00 a barrel. Now the price is roaming around $130-140. The oil production is closed or have already picked. Slowly-slowly will be scarce raw material to be found. A simple strike in Nigeria, a kidnapping, a political rally in Venezuela, an small accident, a terrorist attack in the Middle East, aggressive political attitudes in Russia, Iranian mines in the Hormuz Canal, can boost the prices high in the skies. Can we have any illusions : in many places all over U.S. the price of the unleaded gallon (the cheap gasoline flavor) is well over $4.15, but the industry mark is the U.S. Average Price. From a crude oil price at the tanker hose, (now the petroleum is at $135.00/barrel) about 80-85% is reflected at the pumps consumer price, the rest being made by federal taxes, local taxes, distribution costs and pump owners/operators mark-ups. Who is to blame : Only us, the consumers!? Long time ago, we did not demanded better fuel efficient engine/vehicles as in Europe, or alternate fuels. This reform is long time ago over-due, and should have started at least after the big crisis of 1973. We were complacent (SIMPLY WE DIDN'T CARE!!!) and now we are paying for this mistake. Our fuel engines here in U.S. are not efficient and too big for the vehicles we drive. Too few are Diesel, alcohol or liquid natural gas powered U.S. vs Europe : In Europe the motorists pay about $8.00 a gallon, but computing the engine efficiency factor (average 4 cyls, .1.3-1.6L + high compression ratio), we can reach the reference price of $6.5 /gallon. IN BRITAIN, THE PRICE OF GASOLINE IS WELL OVER $10/GALLON. STATE & GOVERNMENT TAXES REPRESENT 65% OF THE FUEL PRICE STRUCTURE. ALREADY THERE ARE SMALL TRUCK DRIVERS RIOTS GENERATED BY HIGH FUEL PRICES. I was living in Europe for many years. Sure, the distances one has to travel are vastly bigger in USA than in Europe. They have an advanced and superbly designed mass-transit system: in Bucharest they have double trolley-busses, electrical trams and electrical locomotives from the 70's. In Central Europe electrical trains were running before, during and after WWII. Even Porsche invented and all-wheel-drive electrical car, at the beginning of the 20th century. Almost 100 years later, the GM is reinventing the Volt Vehicle! Is this cynical and/or simply stupid energy policy, so late and so little? * Who is to blame*? ONLY US: un-educated and unconcerned consumers. No cheap solutions or temporary patches have to be adopted, now, once again. * Only comprehensive ones, based as well on a massive and well tuned mass transit system, can be implemented. On the small individual level we are still better off than them (the Europeans). * But for how long*? Our way of living and working is different, but we live in an interconnected planet. The US currency. Another factor and reality to blame is the current value of the Dollar: lower vs. the Euro and with a different buying power than some years ago. Some national banks now have to stock as well large sums fo Euros, in order to buy/pay for the crude oil import from Venezuela or Iran, this eroding more the paramount power of the US dollar. International markets. In the last 50 years, the world population simply doubled, to more than 8+ billions humans, putting an enormous pressure on supply, food chains, water, energy and global geo-politics. More important, the international markets changed and more and more people (around the world and in the big emerging markets) have more money and access to buy a pre-owned or a new vehicle. Economical speed. Many decades ago, in Europe, you will have posted a decal with the most efficient speed for your vehicle, in such a manner to direct you to drive at that speed and not pas it, in order to save fuel. The price hike will continue for many months until a new source of fuel + new technologies will be introduced and implemented: like ethanol from sugar cane (and not corn-corn is food!!!), hybrid, liquid natural gas or AWD electrical cars. ths ethanol program from corn, in usa, backfired, because corn id FOOD and some ¼ of the US crop yield was destined to produce ethanol, in a very inefficient way, compared to Brazil, producing 8 times more ethanol from sugar cane. sure, in US, the American farmers know to produce corn and not sugar cane, and this was the most wide available raw material at hand... The price at the pomp is rising in a tempo of about $0.10-0.17/week, faster than I can update my reports. Domino effect and/or Snow ball effect. The first one is a horizontal chain reaction and the other is escalation to bigger and bigger. Both can describe well what we are living in right now. But of course we will be in a snow-ball price effect in our economy, which will alter all prices from groceries to entertainment and tourism. Nothing around us will be left out of this high-fuel-price cyclone, because many decades ago we have based our way of living on fossil oil, something that we do not produce at home. Can we expect a moderation in the oil prices? It will be difficult to achieve and such a complicated economical international arena and a "hot" political climate. Possible: yes; only if the domestic consumption will be down by 25% and U.S. will achieve oil independence by exploring existing reserves and putting in the market alternative fuels. The future. Ferdinand Porsche's one of the first design was the Lohner-Porsche electric car of 1901. The vehicle was presented at the Paris Expo. It was avant-garde, and was enthusiastically received. As technology, was unique for its hub-mounted motors and innovative all-wheel-drive design. THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY will need some time to retool the equipment, factories and service infrastructure and start produccion of fuel-efficient vehicles and small cars. Today, we still drive on fossil fuel powered cars. What a pity! This is stupid! Oil, petrol crude, and its chemical derivates broth us from a medieval society, slowly advancing and mainly based on steam power to the advanced technological age, but we have to let go the fossil fuel for atomic, wind, solar and other forms of energy. Burning fossil fuels is not ecological-friendly! I estimate, at some time in the short future, that the pressure on economy (energy and food), local and global, will lead to profound political changes that will simply switch from fossil fuels based energy to hydro, natural gas, solar and atomic energy. We have to face not only a new economic reality, but a social one, with high energy prices that affect simply all the level of our complicated society. We have to be aware that crude era will be only a passing thru phase, intermediate, and not representing the future. WE HAVE TO ADAPT, IN ORDER TO SURVIVE AND MOVE FORWARD. ADJUSTING TO THE CONSUMER'S NEEDS AND NEW ENERGY/FUELS TYPES IS NOT ALWAYS A FAST PROCESS. This transition will take from 18 to 24 work-time months (in my opinion) and can be considered as a war, when the enemy have the advantage of a new weapon and one have to adapt and find counter-measures and new weapons; and by the end of the day, win the war. This time is the war on energy. It's a time of many trials and tests, but some strong solution, general and cheap to implement will emerge as the universal standard for the next generation of individual locomotion. Fossil fuels locomotion is dead. U.S. has the technology edge to do it and the industrial might & the civil + political will to explore new ways to become and achieve oil/energy independence. Still the political pressure is not so big for the developers to go fast & furious to the computer screens (called before, "drawing tables") and design new ways to save petrol or new types or propulsion. We need an Energy Revolution to occur, and the minds and hearts (and the pockets...) are starting to set on one and send the right signals. Simply, the "pain at the pump" is too big to overcome by so many stained budgets and a steady 50-60k jobs losing string a month. Locally produced energy. It is simply a matter of finding alternative sources of energy, locally. The energy cannot be imported. It has to be produced, harvested at home, renewable, clean-burning and in agreement with the environment. I think that the idea for a change from the fossil fuel is in march right now (not yet a full march!) It's only a matter of time until building steam & rolling. Are we going back to the steam era and animal powered transportation? SAD, BUT IT'S TRUE. We have the technology to reach the Moon and Mars and still burn fossil fuel in our inefficient vehicles. If we are continuing in this way, the wrong way, burning so much fossil fuel, we are simply going to run out of gas. > Anyway, there is no intelligence in burning fossil fuel in an engine. Oil is better processed and taken advantage (with improving efficiency and many important derivate products) in the chemical industry. For transportation, mass energy generation and local needs, we can use other sources. IF MY DEAR READER HAS ANY IDEAS ON HOW TO SAVE FUEL & IMPROVE MILEAGE, PLEASE E-MAIL ME. Hedi Enghelberg Mechanical Engineer | hedi@enghelberg.com FIRST PUBLISHED ON http://www.cnn.com/, JULY 2008
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