Cary's Garage: Through Thick and Thin

I had a friend ask me recently about my experience with older air-cooled vehicles and what my feeling about the right oil weight to run was. Well, I have driven air-cooled vehicles for many years and many thousands of miles and have experimented with oil to see what had the best results.

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California Seeking to Fine Companies Over Gasoline Price Gouging

Despite the perpetual ebb and flow of fuel prices across the United States, you can reliably count on California having some of the highest per-gallon costs in the nation. While that’s not entirely the fault of energy companies – California’s high tax rate on just about everything is a major factor here – oil firms are indeed raking in unprecedented profits right now and the government would much rather you focus on that than any role it might have likewise played. To that effect, Governor Gavin Newsom has announced new financial penalties for corporations accused of price-gouging wherever fueling is concerned.

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Gas War: Russian Oil Now Under New Embargo

With the Russo-Ukrainian War ongoing, sanctions against Russia have become increasingly common. Western nations are casting a wide net in the hopes that bankrupting Russian businesses will destabilize the country and nullify its ability to wage war. The newest financial offensive is here and it’s a big one. As of December 5th, the European Union and G7 countries have decided to cap Russian oil in the hope of reducing Moscow's export revenues. 

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Gas War: Biden Admin Lifting Oil Sanctions On Venezuela

The United States is rethinking its relationship with oil producers in Venezuela and lifting sanctions. On Saturday, The Treasury Department said it would allow Chevron to produce and export oil from the region if the country agreed to restart diplomatic talks with opposition groups. The theory that U.S. leadership wants to see more oil produced to help drive down prices appears valid. But the resulting action still seems at odds with the Biden administration’s lofty environmental goals and is unlikely to move the needle on fuel pricing anytime soon.

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Energy Company Warns Diesel Situation 'Rapidly Devolving'

Following news that the U.S. diesel supply has sunk below 25 days, Mansfield Energy issued an alert pertaining to shortages in the southeastern region of the country. While no direct reasons were given, the company noted that diesel reserves have been holding at historic lows throughout most of this year. 

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Bad News About the U.S. Diesel Supply

Over the summer, the United States witnessed record fuel prices. But the elephant in the room wasn’t how much people were having to pay for regular unleaded gasoline, it was the possibility that the nation might run into diesel shortages going into the fall.

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U.S. Government Cancels Oil and Gas Leases Amid Record Fuel Prices

Despite the United States confronting some of the highest energy prices in its history, the Biden administration has canceled oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet.

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), national fuel prices are averaging out to a whopping $4.43 per gallon of regular gasoline. Diesel is much higher at $5.56 and is speculated to endure mass shortages in the coming months as reports from the Northeast have indicated there are already seeing record-low inventories. Over the past twelve months, fuel prices have risen by nearly $1.50 per gallon and most market analysts expect rates to continue moving upwards through the summer. Though they’re not all in agreement as to who should be blamed for our current predicament.

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Rising Fuel Prices Have Upended the Economy

Unless you’ve spent the last twelve months locked inside your home, then you’re probably dreading the next trip to the gas station. The average price for a gallon of 87 octanes has reached $3.40 in the United States. That’s about 50 percent steeper than it was at the start of 2021 and undoubtedly more than you’re wanting to shell out today. Though one cannot ignore the dizzying rates being advertised outside of British “petroleum parlors” or France’s many “un bordel pour voitures.” Canadians are also forced to endure higher gasoline prices, as the government tends to stack the taxes a little higher and the U.S. dollar tends to be more valuable. At least for now.

All you need to know for the purposes of this article is that fuel prices are up and it’s influencing the economy in some pretty dramatic ways.

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We Ran Out of Fuel on the East Coast

With the Colonial Pipeline shut down due to last week’s ransom hacking, the Eastern United States has found itself running out of fuel. The line was shut down on Friday as a precaution and we’ve since learned that it’s not going to be reopened until this weekend — and maybe not even then.

While this has left some of us with fuel prices creeping aggressively toward $3 per gallon, other parts of the East Coast have seen panic buying and legitimate outages. But it’s hardly surprising when you consider the Colonial Pipeline is the country’s largest. Turning off the tap has ramifications and they’re manifesting all across the coast, though the situation appears to be substantially worse in southern states.

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Sit on It: Foam Shortage Concerning Suppliers

You’ve no doubt heard about the chip shortage sweeping the automotive industry. But have you heard of the foam shortage? That’s right, there’s a dazzling new deficit of supplies in the manufacturing sector and it’s affecting your seats. The semiconductor crisis is so winter. Next season’s hottest supply trend involves those lovely little petrochemicals necessary for foam production.

Texas storms that left millions without power last month, during one of the coldest winters in the region, could have reportedly shorted oil refinery output to a worrying degree. There is now an underabundance of refinery byproducts used to make propylene oxide, which is required to produce polyurethane foam, which is used to manufacture car seats.

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There's Little Reason to Hunt for Fresh Oil in 2020

Ever since the first major oil fields were discovered at the start of the 20th century, the world has been on a never-ending hunt to see where else black gold might be hiding. Monetizing seepage areas goes back even further. But with global oil demand having dissipated on account of the pandemic, there’s little reason to spend cash on additional procurement.

Combine that with the green movement doing everything it can to convince governments there’s only one ethical way to handle energy, and we’re likely to be moving into an era where fossil fuels sell for less but cost more to harvest/utilize thanks to carbon emission regulations.

This has left oil companies pondering the true value of seeking new sources of oil, with some having already decided there’s no point.

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Your Opinion Is Now Worth More Than a Barrel of Oil

While OPEC member states and other oil-producing counties have signed a pact to stem the flow of crude by 10 million barrels a day and hopefully rein in the current price-crashing glut, the situation remains bleak for oil producers around the world. On Monday, May futures for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dropped to the floor, with prices hitting $5 per barrel.

That number shifted into the negative* as the above paragraph was being written. We’re guessing that’s because the end of the May contract forces physical receipts at a time when storage capacities are basically nonexistent. June WTI prices are still riding just below $23 per barrel.

Meanwhile, Brent Crude is hovering around $26 bbl as the OPEC Basket hangs onto $17.73 bbl on a 4-day delay. The assumption is that both will come down, though perhaps not as dramatically as WTI did.

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Get Yer Jerry Cans Out

Looking for an added dose of bad news, recently laid-off, pandemic-sheltering readers? Gas prices should be heading northward before long, now that Russia and OPEC member countries have reached a pact to curtail oil production, thus inflating the near-worthless value of a barrel of crude.

That means prices at the pumps won’t be quite as enjoyable in the coming weeks. Maybe it’s time to brave the outside world tonight and fill up that tank — and any other safe, sealable vessel you can get your hands on.

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Global Oil Producers to Hold Emergency Meetings This Week

The world’s largest oil producers are meeting this week for negotiations aimed at saving the energy sector a lot of hardship further down the road. That includes the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which has been at odds with itself more than usual of late. Hampered by dwindling demand, member countries are suffering and aren’t sure what’s to be done about last month’s price plunge and surplus of crude.

During the cartel’s last meeting, Russia declined to collaborate with OPEC’s planned production cuts. This sent Saudi Arabia into a furious tizzy; it quickly attempted to flood the market with bargain oil in an attempt to drive out lesser players. Like everything else, this was further complicated by the global pandemic. The coronavirus has suppressed oil use to a point where suppliers are growing concerned about storage capacity running out.

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OPEC Infighting and Coronavirus Adds Up to Affordable Gas

With the coronavirus keeping people indoors and shale drilling keeping U.S. oil prices relatively stable, you’ve probably noticed gasoline bills being quite reasonable of late. Well, don’t get used to the sums you’re paying now, as analysts project fuel prices will drop even lower as 2020 progresses. While you might think this is due to national quarantines and lessened demand, you’d only be half right.

Last week, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) failed to strike a deal that would have enacted production cuts to better stabilize the market. Instead of slashing output, Saudi Arabia started slashing prices as it sought ways to ramp up production. Russia immediately responded by promising to increase its own output, leading to what looks like an all-out price war.

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  • Tassos Holding cellphones in one hand while driving and being distracted by them is the idiot's recipe for disaster.And there are millions and millions of such morons. As Mark Twain said, the average American is not very smart, and half of all Americans are even dumber than that. I believe this is true of most other nations as well.
  • Tassos I am not paying $25,000, even in worthless biden dollars, for a 7-year old, unreliable, non-luxury used small wagon. Are you kidding me?
  • Dukeisduke I was behind a guy in a Nissan Frontier this morning, and he was driving about 10 under the speed limit. I passed the guy, and he was looking at his phone, scrolling.
  • Marty S Crazy that there are 20 year old airbags out there. Have had airbag recalls on 2 of our cars (only one on each car), but how long do airbags remain safe? I always wondered why there was a recall on the passenger airbag on one of our cars, but not the drivers.Also had the airbag stolen from a 2003 Honda, and it was a nightmare to get it properly replaced by the insurance company.
  • El scotto The Horror! The Horror! Former Scirocco owner with VW PTSD. It cost more to maintain than the BMW it got traded for. The BMW cost more to maintain than the Mustang GT ragtop it got traded for.Will a used Jaguar F type ragtop lead to more counseling?