Archives – February 20, 2015

Oil Prices to Reach 200 Dollars per Barrel

oilOPEC’s Secretary General, Abdulla al-Badri made a predication that oil prices will start increasing towards $200 per barrel. However, he did not make an estimation of the timeline for the increase in oil prices. Currently, the prices stand at $45 to %55 per barrel and this represents the bottom rock. As a result of the oil prices drop, oil companies have decided to cut back on, not only budgets, but also future growth. Abdulla warned that drastic increases in price will be triggered by continued reductions. Abdulla further added that if drivers do not invest in gas and oil, they can expect to buy at $200 or more per barrel.

Matt DiLallo of Motley Fool gave an explanation of the logic behind the mentioned remark by the secretary general. He said that naturally, oil production declines and there is a need for companies to invest in novel production to replace this production decline and add novel production to sustain the growing demand. Oil companies have however shown reluctance in investing in novel production as they experience a decline in cash flows. This could become problematic over time as there is a natural decline of oil fields globally by approximately 5% annually.

News of increases in oil prices may imply good business news for alternative fuel cars. This segment reported slow sales around the world, with several experts citing a decline in the prices of petroleum as the primary cause. As gasoline prices go up, the sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles have a high likelihood of increasing also. However, not all consumers are convinced that the prices of oil will steeply rise. Adam Smith Institute fellow, as well as a Forbes contributor, Tim Worstall said that although oil prices may have hit rock bottom, it is highly unlikely that the prices will reach $200 per barrel. Warstall said that key changes in oil industry economics have been caused by new methods. He added that it seems people don’t really understand the economic change that the oil market has undergone because of revolution. In the current world, developing a new oil field is not only easy but also affordable. Warstall argues therefore that with such a situation, it is highly unlikely to encounter demand and supply mismatches that could result to oil prices reaching $200 per barrel. He is thus convinced that there is no way the oil prices are going to steeply increase and reach a maximum high.

 

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The Mystery of Electric Car Powering

imagesAn electric car battery is a product that can play a major role in creating novel industries. The battery is designed in such a way that it can power an electric car for 200 to 300 miles on a single charge. A battery that has the potential to compete and even completely replace a car’s combustion engine does not exist yet. However, if a battery of such caliber could be devised, it might turn to multibillion dollar market in the first few years of its existence. This is according to LeVine, Quartz’s Washington correspondent. Such a battery could result in a great improvement in energy security. Such a battery could also lower the effect on climate change since less exhaust will be released into the environment. The U.S. and several other nations are gearing their efforts towards developing such an electric car battery.

The interest in the electric car battery prompted LeVine to go to one of the Energy Department’s laboratories, the Argonne National Laboratory. He was allowed to fully access the Battery Department for about two years, a period which he emerged with an interesting book titled, “The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World.” The battery now depends on the national labs of the government for essential scientific research following the winnowing or closure of several America’s corporate laboratories. Therefore, it was an Argonne scientist who was the mastermind behind the invention of battery chemistry that led to a great improvement of electric cars’ performance. The chemistry in question is Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt, NMC. A specific NMC version is used for the Chevrolet Volt, as well as Nissan Leafs’ next generation. A major drawback that has been that only 40 miles are covered by the Volt on pure battery energy alone prior to switching to the gasoline fueled engine.

LeVine’s book revolves around the effort that it will take to invent a new battery capable of achieving five times the current mileage. Stability has always been a major issue with electric car batteries. Therefore, this new battery researched by LeVine should maintain its stability and be affordable. The effort was labeled NMC 2.0 by Argonne’s scientists. As much as these scientists have made forward strides numerous times, they always discover problems. An example of such a problem is referred to as voltage fade, which is a serious instability that could make an electric car battery unusable.

Just as he pushed for solar innovation, President Obama pushed for battery innovation. This led to the invention of Envia and Solyndra. It is thus clear that financing efforts for battery invention is industrial policy form.

 

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