Posts Tagged ‘Department of Energy’

Heather HunterNew study conducted by the AAA Automotive Research Center shows electric vehicle driving range can be nearly 60 percent lower in extreme cold and 33 percent lower in extreme heat.

ORLANDO, Fla., (March 20, 2014) – Electric Vehicles (EVs) are energy efficient and environmentally-friendly with the added benefit of reducing fuel costs for motorists. But, just as motorists need to know how far the gas in their tank will take them, EV drivers need to be aware of how far their vehicle can travel on a single charge. According to new AAA research conducted with the AAA Automotive Research Center in Southern California, electric vehicle range can be reduced by an average of 57 percent based on the temperature outside.

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“Electric motors provide smooth operation, strong acceleration, require less maintenance than internal combustion engines, and for many motorists offer a cost effective option,” said John Nielsen, managing director, AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “However, EV drivers need to carefully monitor driving range in hot and cold weather.”

To better understand the impact of climate on electric vehicle batteries, AAA conducted a simulation to measure the driving range of three fully-electric vehicles in cold, moderate and hot weather. Temperature made a big difference in driving range for all three EVs.

Vehicles were tested for city driving to mimic stop-and-go traffic, and to better compare with EPA ratings listed on the window sticker. The average EV battery range in AAA’s test was 105 miles at 75°F, but dropped 57 percent to 43 miles when the temperature was held steady at 20°F. Warm temperatures were less stressful on battery range, but still delivered a lower average of 69 miles per full charge at 95°F.

AAA performed testing between December 2013 and January 2014. Each vehicle completed a driving cycle for moderate, hot and cold climates following standard EPA-DOE test procedures. The vehicles were fully charged and then “driven” on a dynamometer in a climate-controlled room until the battery was fully exhausted.

AAA has initiated several projects including mobile recharging units and EV charging stations to support members who drive electric vehicles. EVs provide owners with many benefits, but every motorist needs to be aware of conditions that can impact vehicle driving range. EV drivers need to plan carefully in hot and cold weather. Mapping tools such as the AAA TripTik® Travel Planner pinpoint charging stations to keep motorists on the go.

Additional information regarding AAA’s electric vehicle testing is available on the AAA NewsRoom.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Motorists Can’t Catch Break as Prices Continue Increase

(WASHINGTON, March 19, 2012) Crude oil prices moved higher today, as West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices settled up $1.03 per barrel at $108.09 at the close of formal trading on the NYMEX. 

While oil prices for much of 2012 have been driven by global news — geopolitical tension with Iran, sovereign debt concerns in the Euro zone, and signs of economic recovery both domestically and abroad — today’s increase came with little news of this variety and was seen as the product primarily of weakness in the U.S. dollar.

WTI oil prices ultimately ended Friday less than a dollar above last Monday’s close, but this slight increase was only following a turbulent week of trading.  Prices have continued to see upward pressure from data showing a recovering U.S. economy and persisting concerns of a possible global supply disruption surrounding tensions with Iran; however several bearish factors sent prices lower at times last week. 

Strength in the U.S. dollar and a Department of Energy (DOE) report that was deemed unremarkable by traders saw WTI crude prices on Wednesday fall more than a dollar per barrel.  Crude oil, priced in dollars, becomes relatively more expensive as the dollar increases in value.  Oil futures subsequently become a less attractive investment, which exerts downward pressure on prices, as was the case Wednesday.

These losses were reversed early Thursday morning, as crude prices initially turned higher on positive news for the U.S. economy provided by jobless reports from the Department of Labor.  This early momentum was quickly reversed as reports surfaced that the U.S. and United Kingdom had agreed to a coordinated release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and many traders decided it was time to sell and quickly moved for the exits. 

The SPR — the largest emergency store of crude oil in the world with a capacity of 727 million barrels — was created in 1975 to protect from the impact of energy supply shortages or disruptions.  The Reserve is maintained by the DOE and can be tapped by Presidential order.  Oil was most recently released from the SPR in June of last year as part of a coordinated release with the International Energy Agency to offset the loss of Libyan crude oil from the global market.  Releasing crude oil from the Reserve into the market would be expected to exert downward pressure on crude prices.  These initial reports were, however, denied by U.S. officials who stated that no release from the SPR was imminent.  This saw crude prices tentatively recover most of their losses for the day. 

By the time the market opened on Friday, traders had shifted back to rally mode and returned their focus to the same bullish indicators that have kept upward pressure on crude oil prices in 2012.  WTI crude ended the week at $107.06 per barrel.

With crude oil prices remaining high, motorists across the country have continued to face rising gas prices at the pump.  The current national average price for a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline is $3.84.  This price is four cents more expensive than one week ago, 30 cents more expensive than one month ago, and 29 cents more expensive than one year ago. 

Across the country drivers continue to pay very different prices depending on where they live.  Motorists in seven states and the District of Columbia currently pay an average of more than $4.00 per gallon: Alaska – $4.23, California – $4.35, Connecticut – $4.01, D.C. – $4.07, Hawaii – $4.48, Illinois – $4.16, New York – $4.01, and Washington State – $4.01. While the lowest gas prices in the country are still found in the midcontinent region, led by motorists in Wyoming ($3.43) and Montana ($3.54), the gap between prices in these states and those found in some parts of the southeastern U.S. continues to narrow.

Gas Prices on Rise for Past 30-plus Days

February 29th, 2012 by AAA

Prices hit daily record highs for last 141 consecutive days

(WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2012) The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil fell by $1.21 per barrel today to settle at $108.70 at the close formal trading on the NYMEX. Recent weeks have seen crude prices surge higher on geopolitical tension with Iran, signs of economic improvement in the U.S., and signs of progress toward addressing European sovereign debt concerns. This weekend saw little in the way of market-moving news, and strength in the U.S. dollar today — supported by comments made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel regarding the danger to the European Union (EU) of failing to implement a Greek bailout — provided downward pressure on crude prices.

Crude oil futures are priced in U.S. dollars. As the dollar strengthens relative to currencies abroad, the price of oil becomes more expensive for those holding foreign currencies. Oil futures become a less attractive investment, which exerts downward pressure on prices, as was the case today.

While today’s WTI price is a slight pullback from last Friday (a 298-day high) it is still the highest settlement price to begin a week since the beginning of May 2011.

Region Price increase to-date 2012
Pacific Coast

$0.54

Southwest

$0.44

Southeast

$0.44

Mid Atlantic

$0.42

New England

$0.41

Midwest

$0.36

Great Lakes

$0.30

Mountain West

$0.16

Despite only four trading days due to the Presidents’ Day holiday, last week’s increase in crude prices was the third largest since the start of 2009 and the largest since the first week of March 2011, when prices surged above $100 per barrel for the first time since 2008. The price increase last March was driven by violence in Libya, as rebel forces clashed with those loyal to then-leader Muammar Qaddafi, and concerns persisted that this unrest would spread to other countries in the region. The recent price increase again has roots in unrest the Middle East and North Africa — current escalating tension with Iran and continuing violence in Syria — but has also been a result of positive economic reports in the U.S. and signs that the EU may be taking the necessary steps to address that region’s sovereign debt issues.

One other notable similarity between this recent surge and last year is the amount of speculation in the market. Both last March and at present, prices are being driven higher largely by the possibility of a future impact on supply rather than an actual shortage. As reported by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the first week of March last year ended with the largest net long position (contracts speculating that prices will go higher, minus those speculating they’ll go lower) in the history of WTI futures trading at 335,674 contracts. While last week’s net long position was below the record set last March, it was still a lofty 304,957 contracts. On the other hand, while RBOB gasoline futures for the first week of March 2011 reflected a net long position of 56,686 contracts, last week’s report showed an all-time high of 88,204.

The ultimate result of this speculation is that the market prices for both crude oil and gasoline have been pressured higher by future uncertainty in the market rather than current supply and demand fundamentals. Market historians note that the similar heavy long bias last March came just before a sharp move lower as traders became worried that the market was overbought.

Adding to concern by some traders that crude and wholesale gasoline prices may again be overbought is the continuing demand destruction evident in the market. While weekly Department of Energy numbers last week may have appeared to show a slight rebound and a new high for 2012 at 8.628 million barrels of gasoline consumed per day, this number was still some 500,000 barrels below consumption for the same week in 2011, and a look at the more telling 4-week average shows a more than 6% year-over-year decline.

Despite these now weekly reports of anemic demand, gas prices at the pump continue to rise and have now increased for 32 consecutive days — from a national average of $3.38 on January 26 to $3.70 today. Today’s price is 13 cents more expensive than one week ago, 29 cents more expensive than one month ago, and 35 cents more expensive than one year ago.

As gas prices have risen in 2012, it has not been an even increase across all regions. Those in the center of the country continue to be supplied by refineries with access to cheaper, landlocked crude products, meaning that these areas have been relatively insulated from the increased prices seen in those areas near the coast that must pay prices set on the global market. While Pacific Coast states have seen an average increase of 54 cents per gallon since the start of the year, prices in Mountain West states have increased by only 16 cents during the same period. A full list of price increases by region is included below.
Motorists in three states currently pay an average of more than $4.00 per gallon: Hawaii – $4.32, California – $4.29, and Alaska – $4.09. Only two states currently pay less than $3.20: Wyoming – $3.12 and Colorado – $3.14.

The above information is intended to provide perspective on fuel prices to AAA club spokespersons in speaking to the news media or in preparing news releases. If you have questions about any information contained in this document, do not hesitate to contact Nancy White at (202) 942-2079.

Euro zone debt, tension with Iran affecting markets

WASHINGTON (Jan. 30, 2012) — The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil declined slightly today, falling 78 cents per barrel to settle at $98.78 at the close of formal trading on the NYMEX. This continued a recent trend of low price volatility as competing market factors have largely offset each other. While traders remain focused on euro zone debt concerns and dismal demand numbers, placing downward pressure on oil prices, as well as geopolitical tension with Iran and signs of economic recovery in the U.S., placing upward pressure on prices, the net impact has been the price of crude holding steady in recent weeks. 

Much as WTI crude oil last week continued the recent trend of prices at or near $100 per barrel, so too continued a focus on the same stories that have held traders’ attention to begin 2012: European economic woes, tension with Iran, and historically low domestic demand. Reported concern with Portuguese and Spanish debt drew some headlines early last week but ultimately weren’t assessed as anything more than a continuation of the economic pessimism that has weighed on the European and global economies. This economic uncertainty would be expected to exert downward pressure on prices as a weaker economy demands less crude oil. Geopolitical tensions with Iran and the associated specter of a potential supply disruption does bring expected upward pressure on crude prices, however, action surrounding these tensions continues to be evaluated as “saber rattling.” This assessment was supported by news last Thursday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had indicated Tehran was ready to return to the negotiating table to discuss that country’s nuclear development program. While concerns of global supply disruption have kept some upward pressure on crude oil prices, supply reports continue to highlight anemic demand and adequate stocks on hand. Last Wednesday’s weekly Department of Energy (DOE) report showed an increase of 3.6 million barrels for crude stocks and gasoline demand at 8.098 million barrels per day — an increase from the previous week’s demand number but a widening year-over-year decrease. 

WTI prices last week spent a full week with settlement prices below $100 per barrel for the first time since before Christmas and marked the least volatile trading week since the end of April 2011 — the same week that crude oil prices reached the peak for 2011 at $113.93 per barrel.

While crude oil prices have held steady, gasoline prices have moved higher. This increase is largely the product of expected refinery shutdowns — both in the U.S. and Europe — as refiners cut production in the face of limited demand for their product.  Last week’s DOE report showed refinery utilization decreasing to 82.2 percent from 83.7 percent the week prior. The current national retail average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline is $3.43.  Today’s price is five cents more expensive than last week, 15 cents more expensive than one month ago, and 33 cents more expensive than one year ago. 

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Effect of expected refinery shutdowns offset by continuing demand destruction

WASHINGTON (Jan. 23, 2012) — The price of crude oil was up slightly today as West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude increased by $1.25 to settle at $99.58 at today’s close of formal trading on the NYMEX. Oil markets continue to take direction from euro zone debt concerns and mounting geopolitical tension with Iran. Today brought reports that the European Union (EU) had agreed to an embargo on Iranian crude oil. This plan would be expected to remove 450,000 barrels per day of crude oil from the current European supply by July 1. A tightening of supply, such as this, would be expected to put upward pressure on crude prices. At the same time, momentum also seems to be building to address the euro zone debt crisis as EU finance chiefs met to restart talks to restructure Greek debt to avoid default. Positive global economic news, and the associated increase in demand for oil, would also be expected to pressure prices higher.

After rising sharply to begin last week’s holiday-shortened trading week, crude oil prices trended lower throughout the latter part of the week as dismal demand numbers and euro zone debt concerns—specifically with Greece—outweighed any upward pressure due to tension with Iran.  While last Thursday’s weekly Department of Energy report did show a drawdown in crude stocks, which initially sent oil prices higher, it was accompanied by bearish demand numbers—the lowest in more than ten years—and a build in gasoline stocks, which ultimately pressured prices lower.  Crude oil settled at $98.46 to end last week, the lowest price of 2012 and a decline of $2.25 from the settlement price to begin last week.

While crude oil prices have declined slightly, gasoline prices have remained relatively flat. This comes as the potential upward pressure of expected refinery shutdowns has been offset by downward pressure from continuing demand destruction.  The current national retail average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline is $3.38.  Today’s price is fractions of a penny cheaper than last week, but 15 cents more expensive than one month ago and 27 cents more expensive than one year ago.  While the price of gasoline at the pump increased by more than ten cents during the first two weeks of 2012, the price over the past two weeks has been within a penny of today’s price.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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