Most of us are sick and tired of paying for ever higher gasoline prices blamed on events seemingly out of our control. You may even be saying– “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”. But what can you do about having some feeling of control over what you pay for this precious commodity important to get to work, do your work, shopping as well as some money left over to visit family?
We are constantly bombarded with news about riots, protests and even an earthquake or two almost immediately affecting the price for gasoline we pay at the pump. The truth is somewhere between what you hear and the real reasons for those unexpected gasoline price spikes.
What it takes to refine crude oil into gasoline and diesel fuel depends on inventories purchased ahead of time at fixed prices. Meanwhile pump prices are being adjusted on the variations of the spot market prices being quoted by Commodity Exchanges for different types of benchmark crude oils. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil, Brent and Alaska North Slope (ANS) crude oil benchmarks currently rule the market. The Brent crude oil posted on the Intercontinental Commodities exchange (ICE) headquartered in London.
We continue to depend on crude oil imports from overseas countries, which are hostile to our culture and form of capitalism. Domestic major oil companies have available crude oil reserves, which will be able to meet our demands without having to increase our fuel prices immediately. However, they elect to import crude oil instead and utilize the Last In – First Out (LIFO) method to calculate their inventories and set their fuel prices.
One way to beat the oil companies at their own game is to keep track of your fuel economy for your family buggy.
If you are an overachiever with basic math skills, calculating your fuel economy is easy to do. Divide your miles driven since your last fill up by the gallons of the current fill up and there you have it.
Pen and paper for tracking miles per gallon is almost free, and require little more than 30 seconds after you fill up your gasoline. Tracking your fuel economy seems to be in vogue once again since $4 per gallon gasoline prices has hit some parts of our country.
But who the heck wants to do math anymore? You now have smart phones with an app to take care of that work. Just input the miles from your odometer and the amount of fuel you filled up on the “GasHog” app for $1. It will then figure out the miles per gallon for you. In fact, you’ll be able to keep track of historic data and break down your fuel economy and exact cost per mile. You will know exactly how much driving is costing you. . “Mileage” for Android does the same thing for your Droid and other smart phone systems driven by that software.
There are other apps to find the closest gas station to your location. Gas Buddy has an app to let you know fuel prices at gas stations or truck stops nearest to where you are.
Entering the information on your smart phone at the time of the fill up will be the hardest thing to remember. If you are in a hurry to get in and out after filling up and forget, the whole process has to start all over again.
Some of you will just go back to knowing your vehicles intuitively and are good enough at math to put a non-zero value on your time.
About The Author – Bob van der Valk is an Independent Petroleum Industry Consultant living in Terry, Montana with over 50 years of experience in the petroleum, gasoline and lubricants industry. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org