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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Yes, We Have No Ethanol

Check out this "no ethanol" sign at a gas station in New York. That's because ethanol contains less bang for your buck than gasoline.

I went to Orlando and back last weekend with my family of four in a Honda CRV fueled with a 10% ethanol blend -- and our gas mileage was a little below what I was expecting.

Here's why: A gallon of gasoline contains 115,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs) of energy, a gallon of ethanol contains 75,700 BTUs. Therefore, a gallon of ethanol contains only 65.8% of the energy of gallon of gasoline.

If the fuel you're using has a 10% ethanol blend: 0.9 + (0.1 x 0.658) = 0.9658.

It's true that ethanol boosts octane levels, but in modern cars this does not affect mileage.

Other people are catching on to this as well. Hence, the "no ethanol" signs cropping up at gas stations.

Here is more energy news you can use ...

Shell Shuts Down Nigerian Oil Field After Attack Royal Dutch Shell said it shut down production from an offshore oil field that produces about 200,000 barrels per day after the most powerful militant group in Nigeria launched an attack on an installation there Thursday.

Oil Prices Slip Despite Attack in Nigeria "There was a smaller-than-expected drop in crude supplies and a reasonably healthy rise in distillates," said Mark Pervan, a senior commodity strategist at ANZ Bank in Melbourne, Australia.

The EIA report said crude oil supplies fell 1.2 million barrels last week, less than the 2 million barrel decline expected by analysts surveyed by energy research firm Platts, and inventories of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, rose 2.6 million barrels -- more than expected.

Still, Vienna's JBC Energy, in its daily report, said the U.S. stock draw was significant when expressed in year-on-year terms, nothing that "crude oil stocks have fallen sharply by around 53 million barrels compared to end June 2007."

Gasoline supplies fell 1.2 million barrels last week, where analysts were expecting an increase of nearly 1 million barrels. However, the EIA also said demand for gasoline is down 1.8 percent, on average, over the last four weeks compared with last year.

Premium Gas Sales Tank as Fuel Prices Rise Demand for high-octane fuel is at its lowest in nearly a quarter of a century and is now primarily consumed by a core group of luxury vehicle owners -- and even some of them are putting lower-grade fuel into their tanks to save money.

World Bank Raises China Growth Forecast China's economy is weathering the global slowdown better than expected, the World Bank said Thursday as it raised its growth forecast for the Asian giant to 9.8 percent from 9.4 percent.

The Chinese government has set a growth target for this year of 8 percent following last year's sizzling 11.9 percent expansion.

XX Sean's note -- an expanding Chinese economy is very bullish for oil/diesel/gasoline prices, because China subsidies fuel costs for its citizens.
Fuel subsidies cost China about $47.9 billion a year, or about 1.2 percent of the country's GDP. Of course, when your economy is expanding at 9.8%, you can afford that.

XX UPDATE -- No sooner do I write this than the Chinese raise the price of gasoline and diesel by 46 cents a gallon. We'll see how much effect this has on demand. I think the market's reaction to the news is an over-reaction.

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