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Gulf Oil CEO says gas could hit $1 next year

The Patriot Ledger

Posted Dec 04, 2008 @ 06:00 AM
Last update Dec 04, 2008 @ 08:42 AM
By Julie Onufrak
RANDOLPH —Gulf Oil CEO Joe Petrowski said on Wednesday that the price of oil could sink to $20 per barrel, and there is a chance gasoline prices could drop as low as $1 per gallon by early next year.

Speaking at a South Shore Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Lombardo’s in Randolph, the Brockton native said that after speculators drove oil prices up, there is a chance that the market will overshoot on the way back down, resulting in much lower prices at the pump.

Gas prices have already sunk fairly rapidly this fall, reaching a statewide average of $1.85 for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline this week, following a plunge in crude oil prices.

Gulf Oil, which is based in Newton, is not an oil producer. Gulf stopped producing oil in 1986 and stopped refining oil in 1992, according to Petrowski. He said the company is a “fuel agnostic” wholesaler, and will sell whichever fuels customers and distributors demand.

Though he said the company benefits from lower energy prices, he said he believes the price of oil should range from $40 to $60 per barrel, depending on economic activity, in order to keep pace with inflation.

Petrowski said that policymakers should make low-cost energy a goal by investing in alternative energy sources, increasing domestic oil reserves, and diversifying the foreign origins of oil so as to be less dependent on unfriendly countries.

While he said he believes global warming is a danger, Petrowski is not sure there is as much of a correlation between carbon and global warming as some environmentalists claim.

“Carbon is our greatest threat – there’s another myth,” he said. “I do think economic devastation and reliance on foreign supplies of oil (are).”

Since gas prices peaked in July, Petrowski said some people have resumed driving habits that they avoided when gasoline was $4 a gallon in the summer. But he said he hopes that the motivation to create alternative energy sources will not be lost.

Gulf opened its first E85 ethanol fueling station at Logan Airport in October – just as gasoline prices sank and the demand for ethanol decreased. “Ethanol’s not a great business right now, but it will be,” Petrowski said.

He said that cellulosic ethanol will eventually replace corn-based ethanol, and that he thinks the U.S. should eventually get rid of the import tax on ethanol from places like Brazil.

Petrowski said that New England’s energy future is bright, with research and development going on at local universities as well as access to gasoline from refineries in Canada, the mid-Atlantic region, the Caribbean and Europe. “We’re no longer at the end of the pipe,” he said.

Julie Onufrak may be reached at [email protected].

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