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Americans Paying European Prices for Oil?

By Claude Salhani | Tue, 19 February 2013 22:58 | 8

Oh, how I miss the days of Bill Clinton’s presidency when the price of gas at the pump was around 99 cents per gallon. Yes, you heard me right: ninety-nine cents (US), less than one dollar per gallon.

Over the years the price rose steadily until it hovered around the $3.60 mark where it was until last week. But then in just a few days car owners in the United States discovered, much to their horror that they need to dish out almost $4 per gallon.  In other words they would have to hand over roughly between $60 and $75 to fill up an average SUV, the preferred vehicle in the US.

Why the sudden shift upwards? Why this inexplicable rise in one of the most important commodities in the country after clean water and bread? Possibly even more important than bread.

Are Americans following in Europe’s footsteps when it comes oil prices?

Experts in the oil market blame this sudden price rise on the weather, which has not been too clement, particularly to the east coast of the United States and where a number of oil refineries are located. Hurricanes and storms that hit the east coast have affected some of these refineries, slowing down production. Naturally, justified or not, the oil companies could not pass over the opportunity to make a few more dollars.

Related article: Where Do Your Gas Dollars Go?

Additionally the cold weather front that has hit the US for the past two weeks (on and off) has increased the demand for heating oil, thus, once more putting the oldest rule of a free market economy into play: more demand equals higher costs.

So the prices keep rising and rising and rising… Still, by European standards Americans continue to pay far less than what Europeans are paying for the same amount. In France for example, in some instance drivers are paying more that $8 per gallon. That’s twice what Americans are paying.

But by golly, this is the United States of America, the land where the car is king, where gas in meant to be cheap.  After all, several wars were fought to guarantee a continuous supply of cheap oil for Americans, who need their cars to buy a loaf of bread.

The US went to war with Iraq to liberate Kuwait in 1990 because Washington did not want Saddam Hussein to get his hands on that much oil… yes, and because he stole incubators from Kuwait. Oh, wait that story was later proved false. But never mind that. The oil fields were reclaimed.

Related article: Why, Despite the Boom in Oil Production, are Gasoline Prices Still High?

The US occupied… er, I mean liberated Iraq a decade later for the sake of democracy …and cheap oil. So listen up America, unless you want to become like those French people who are paying $8 and more for a gallon of gasoline, let’s not make any sudden moves that would contribute to even higher prices. Moves like a new war in the Middle East.

John Kerry, the new US secretary of State is scheduled to undertake a trip to a number of countries in the days and weeks to come. Those include four European nations, but also Turkey, Egypt and several countries in the Persian/Arabian Gulf. (note to all you folks who will jump on their keyboards to insult me for calling the Gulf, the Arabian Gulf, I know, I know…).

Mr. Kerry will visit London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, as well as Ankara, Cairo, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Doha.

Somewhere along that yellow brick road the new secretary of State will listen to the great concerns of America’s allies in the ARABIAN Gulf, (The Saudis, the Emiratis and the Qataris) who will reiterate their great trepidation regarding Iran and its nuclear ambitions, just across the waters.

The Saudis, among others, will probably try to convince the American top diplomat that something needs to be done to make sure the Islamic Republic does not achieve its nuclear goals. Being the new kid on the block, Kerry will listen and then will report back to the president in Washington DC.

Chances are nothing more will come of it and America will continue to plug along with the price of gas slowly rising. On the other hand a renewed conflict in the Middle East will send oil prices soaring possibly to the $8 per gallon mark much like the French are paying today. Of course by then, the French will be paying as much for the cost of a full tank of gas as it does to purchase a Smart Car.

By. Claude Salhani

Claude Salhani is a political analyst and journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia, terrorism and political Islam.  His latest book is Islam Without a Veil.” He tweets @claudesalhani

About the author

More recent articles by Claude Salhani

Tue 15 July 2014
The Islamic State: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid
Tue 08 July 2014
Obama Fiddles While Iraq Burns
Mon 23 June 2014
ISIS: Is It All About The Oil?
Tue 17 June 2014
Why ISIS Won't Stop With Iraq
Mon 09 June 2014
Moscow and Kiev: A Dialogue Of The Deaf

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  • Mark chambers on February 20 2013 said:
    Thanks for the history lesson. But we all know it's the administrations energy policy's which have driven the price of gas up. Humans need fewer cars and more coastal high speed transit, if they are to not go completely insane. What you are witnessing is pure insanity plain and simple.
  • Robiin Lauriault on February 20 2013 said:
    Yes, the French are paying up to $8/gal, but you failed to remind readers that much of that is taxes which go to fund a generally much higher standard of living than we have here in the US, i.e. far better roads, railroads, rapid transit, parks, HEALTH CARE, etc, etc, etc.
    Oh to be in France!
  • ringo muldano on February 21 2013 said:
    So much for the recovery. The average wage earner gets screwed again.
  • Ronald Wagner on February 21 2013 said:
    The only way to lower gasoling prices is to use CNG and LNG For vehicles and all types of engines. They can all be converted. The largest and thirstiest have the greatest and quickest payback. Ships, trucks, locomotives, fracking engines, etc. This needs to be done worldwide, and will take time. Not doing it is just plain stupid.
  • Bob White on February 23 2013 said:
    The average American sends 80% of his income to China. 68% of Americans drive 4 bangers while the Chinese aspire to drive large SUVs and luxury cars and are vacuuming every drop of oil available.

    Soviet style US collapse is next. Bin Laden will have taken down 2 superpowers by bankrupting them both.

    Bow to the renewed Chinese Empire. Maybe the Chinese Communist Party will do a better job at running the Western world...
  • T.B. Willingham on February 23 2013 said:
    My comments yesterday that you didn't bother to post were concerning your reference to the US motivation to invade Iraq so soon after 9-11. If we were there for the oil, then why did we allow the Iraqi govt to nationalize the oil industry and who now has the contracts for that very oil that you contend we were after? Answer, China, Russia, etc, etc. Well do you have the integrity to post my comments this time?
  • Bob White on February 24 2013 said:
    The average American sends 80% of his income to China. 68% of Americans drive 4 bangers while the Chinese aspire to drive large SUVs and luxury cars and are vacuuming every drop of oil available.

    Soviet style US collapse is next. Bin Laden will have taken down 2 superpowers by bankrupting them both.

    Bow to the renewed Chinese Empire. Maybe the Chinese Communist Party will do a better job at running the Western world...
  • Bob White on August 26 2013 said:
    The average American sends 80% of his income to China. 68% of Americans drive 4 bangers while the Chinese aspire to drive large SUVs and luxury cars and are vacuuming every drop of oil available.

    Soviet style US collapse is next. Bin Laden will have taken down 2 superpowers by bankrupting them both.

    Bow to the renewed Chinese Empire. Maybe the Chinese Communist Party will do a better job at running the Western world...

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