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Green Ink: Forget Peak Oil; Peak Gasoline is Already Here


APRIL 13, 2009, 8:09 AM ET

By Keith Johnson

Crude oil futures fell below $51 a barrel as the market reacted to the IEA’s bearish oil-demand forecast, Bloomberg reports.

And the demand picture is indeed weak, especially in the U.S., where gasoline demand apparently peaked in 2007 and won’t return. That’s due to a cocktail of higher fuel-efficiency, shifting transportation habits, and the growing role of biofuels, in the WSJ. Speaking of which, the University of Texas boasts what could be the world’s largest collection of algae, suddenly in demand as a biofuel feedstock, also in the WSJ.

Chinese oil companies may partner with Shell to make a bid for oil development in Northern Iraq, the WSJ reports. As well as Kazakhstan—Bloomberg reports China will loan the Central Asian country $10 billion in exchange for a stake in its oil company. The supply outlook is grimmer in the North Sea: Tanking oil prices have led to a steep decline in oil exploration, which could halve the remaining life of North Sea oil reserves, in the FT.

The Obama administration has largely stayed on the sidelines of the debate over climate legislation, notes the NYT: “Has the administration scaled back its global-warming goals, at least for this year, or is it engaged in sophisticated misdirection?” One big question is the role the EPA will have in regulating greenhouse-gas emissions.

This year, at least, that EPA regulation is likely to be limited to the auto industry, which will be a big test of whether imposing tougher environmental regulations on a struggling industry will jumpstart a revival or instead be the last nail in the coffin, in the WSJ.

One way out for the auto industry lies with electric cars. General Electric thinks so at any rate, upping its stake in battery maker A123 Systems, because even a 5% share of the U.S. auto market is a massive opportunity, in the WSJ.

The Pentagon has plenty of alternative-energy ideas for its $300 million in stimulus money, from building better biomass generators to roll-up solar panels and hybrid-powered combat vehicles, in the WaPo.

If cars display fuel-economy statistics, why don’t houses display their energy efficiency? The secretary of Housing and Urban Development wants to tweak the mortgage market to put energy efficiency at the forefront of home-buying decisions, in the L.A. Times.

Finally, just six months after a landmark deal with the U.S., India’s plans for a massive nuclear-energy revival are looking tarnished. The economic meltdown and cheaper traditional energy prices have dented nuclear power’s appeal there, reports UPI.


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