As the prices of gas continues to rise in the 21st century, motorists are yearning for the days when the substance that powered their cars cost less than $1 or even closer to $2. The demand for this influential resource has been outweighing the supply long before war broke out in the Middle East. The constant consumption of regular, leaded, unleaded, and now diesel fuel has placed a huge strain on reserves, which has caused prices to reach new heights.
The elevated cost of gasoline has greatly impacted the United States, as well as the rest of the world. The current energy crisis has forced scientists to seek out innovative ways of supplying energy and has encouraged consumers to find other methods of preserving fuel, such as riding a bicycle to work or purchasing electric cars.
In the future, the use of gas alternatives may gain more attention, especially since the following methods are less damaging to the environment: biodiesel, biobutanol, hydrogen fuel, ethanol, and bioethanol.
Taking a Brief Look at Gas Prices
In September 2003, the price of standard crude oil was less than $25 per barrel and with the help of inflation adjustments - it remained below the mark since the middle of the 1980s. However, a chain of events over the past couple of years has caused the price to increase to more than $60 in August 2005 and exceed the $75-mark by the summer of 2006. In October 2007, a barrel of crude oil was $92. The start of 2008 only heightened the continued rise in prices, establishing several record highs, including an inflation-adjusted all-time peak of $103.05 per barrel in February 2008.
Different Kinds of Gasoline
A mixture of liquid hydrocarbons and crude oil undergo a distillation process in order to generate gasoline. Gas was invented during the late 1850s after crude oil was discovered and researchers were able to fine ways on how to use this material. Early types of gasoline were created as a byproduct of the process that made kerosene fuel for oil lamps. Since the internal combustion engine had yet to become a reality - the majority of early gasoline was tossed away because no one had a use for the substance.
Today, the United States offers a wide-range of gasoline types. Finished motor gasoline consists of a complicated mixture of volatile hydrocarbons and other additives that help power spark-ignition engines. Reformulated gas mostly uses methyl tertiary-butyle ether as an oxygenate with three different kinds. For example, the exclusive oxygenated reformulated gasoline is typical only during the wintertime throughout the New York City region where heavy carbon monoxide pollution is found.
Gasohol is often a combination of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline mixture. Ethanol is a liquid that actually comes from the fermentation of some sugars located in agricultural crops or wood. However, the most widely available type is conventional gasoline, which has been designed to evaporate at a slower pace in hot temperatures, which creates less smog.
Overall, each type of gas (whether conventional, oxygenated, or reformulated) is available within three different grades: regular, midgrade, and premium. As a rule of thumb, premium gas offers an octane rating greater than 90, which contributes to its higher price per gallon.
The Lowdown on Gas Stations
With exorbitant prices, gas stations not only struggle to make a profit but to also find ways on how to entice consumers into purchasing their gas. Depending on the location of a gas station and company trend - a range of prices sees states like New Jersey and Missouri offering the lowest costs with California pushing the limits as of March 2008.
A couple of popular gas companies and stations within the United States and Canada include:
Founded in 1879 in Pico Canyon, California - Chevron would grow to become the fifth largest global energy company - playing a major role in the oil and gas industry. Making great strides in exploration and production, Chevron is also responsible for Texaco found in Europe, United States and Latin America.
With a merger in 1999 that saw the combined power of three major companies - ExxonMobil is considered the world's largest company by revenue. The company also supports Exxon in the United States; Esse/Imperial Oil in Canada; and Mobil in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.
Founded in 1938 as Husky Refining, the company focuses on petroleum and gas. Employing close to 4,000 people - Husky is known as one of Canada's biggest energy companies - which supplies Husky and Mohawk-brand gas.
Established in 1975 in Ottawa, Ontario, Petro Canada is known as the second-largest company associated with various gas operations. Petro gas stations also offers a loyalty program called Petro Points, where consumers receive credits for fuel, car repair and store purchases.
A merger in 2002 saw Conoco and Phillips join forces to become one of the six "supermajor" oil companies in the world. The company is responsible for heading Conoco in the southeastern and central region of the United States, Phillips 66, and other international ventures.