• One question has vexed oil companies and consumers alike for the past few decades: when will we finally run out of oil?  Some say the peak has already happened, others say it is fast approaching. But a recent analysis of global oil capacity by IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates finds that overall petroleum supplies should grow though 2030, with no evidence of a peak of supply before then.

     

    In the group’s report, The Future of Global Oil Supply: Understanding the Building Blocks, global oil productive capacity is expected to grow to as much as 115 million barrels per day through that period from the current level of 92 million barrels per day – a 25% increase.

     

    Once the supply level reaches its peak, IHS predicts that oil will remain on an “undulating plateau” for several decades rather than falling off sharply.

    “There is more than an adequate inventory of physical resources available to increase supply to meet anticipated levels of demand through 2030,” said Peter Jackson, IHS CERA senior director. “It would be easy to interpret the market and oil price trends from 2003 through 2009 in isolation to support the belief that a peak in global supply has passed or is imminent. But this only illustrates that the market continues to act as the shock absorber of major volatility.”

     

    According to the energy and commodity data firm Platts, U.S. crude oil production for 2009 is on target to have its biggest one-year jump since 1970, averaging 5.268 million barrels per day through October. With the jump in the Gulf of Mexico, combined with the emergence of two other new oil-production trends, it appears the U.S. has a chance of at least maintaining oil output in the range of five million to six million barrels per day for some years to come, the firm said.

     

    The peaking of global oil demand—rather than scale and deliverability of below-ground resources—could have a major impact on the flow of supply, according to IHS CERA’s analysis. “So much will happen between now and 2030 to affect demand, from changes in the automobile engine and the electric battery to changes in demographics and values,” Jackson added. “Peak demand may ultimately prove to be the main driver of long-term supply.”

     

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  • AT&T was recently recognized for itsconcentrated effort to encourage the use of natural gas inits fleet vehicles and educating the public on the benefits of alternativefuels.  The telecommunications giant was one of five recipients of theNational NGV Achievement Award at theNatural Gas Vehicle Conference-Summitin Long Beach, California.

     

    After conducting athorough investigation of natural gas vehicle options, benefits andavailability, AT&T decided in 2008 to field test 25 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-poweredinstallation-and-service vans in several of its California locations. Afterdeploying the units and evaluating their performance, AT&T announced inearly 2009 that it would replace approximately 8,000 gasoline-powered servicevehicles with vehicles powered by CNG over the next five years.  Thecompany plans to deploy 15,000 alternative fuel vehicles by 2019. BAF Technologies alsoannounced June 30 it would help AT&T with the conversion to compressed natural gas.  The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) estimates AT&T’sCNG vehicles will save 49 million gallons of gasoline and reduce carbonemissions by 25 percent over its 10-year implication.  Ranked No.1 on Automotive Fleet’s Top 300 Commercial Fleets of2009 based onsize, AT&T operates 86,099 vehicles in its fleet.

     

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  • Eight thousand old, emission-heavy trucks will be banned from Port of Long Beach shipping facilities as of New Year’s Day 2010, marking what the port calls a major milestone in the continuing transformation of the harbor’s trucking fleet to improve air quality and set an example for other trucking facilities.

     

    Most of the aging big rigs already are gone, replaced by 5,600 newer and cleaner models due to the port’s Clean Trucks Program. An additional 2,400 new trucks are on order and soon will be put into service. The program began phasing out old trucks on Oct. 1, 2008. By January, nearly all of the trucks calling at the port will meet the tough reevaluated 2007 federal emissions standards.

     

    “This New Year’s Day, we’ll celebrate a Port of Long Beach Clean Trucks Program that has accomplished a great deal in an extremely short time, bringing us the newest clean truck technology and an impressive clean air benefit for the community,” says Nick Sramek, president of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners. “By January 1, the program will have achieved nearly an 80 percent reduction in trucking air pollution – two years ahead of schedule.”

     

    On Jan. 1, 2010, the port will ban 1993 and older truck engines, along with un-retrofitted 1994-to-2003 truck engines. A small number of trucks that do not meet that deadline will have an extra four months to work at the port – but only if the owner is awaiting a new truck through a port or state financing program. On Jan. 1, 2012, only 2007 and newer truck engines will be allowed to enter marine terminals.

     

    What is your fleet doing to help the environment?  Let us know by leaving a comment below.

     

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  • A new study by neuroscientists at UC Irvine suggests that bad drivers may be able to blame their genes for bad habits behind the wheel (at least partially).

     

    The study found that people with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test than people without it – and a follow-up test a few days later yielded similar results. About 30 percent of Americans have the variant, which limits the availability of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) during activity, which helps to keep memory strong.

     

    UCI scientists conducted tests to find out if the variant would affect an activity such as driving. The driving test was taken by 29 people – 22 without the gene variant and seven with it. They were asked to drive 15 laps on a simulator that required them to learn the nuances of a track programmed to have difficult curves and turns. Researchers recorded how well they stayed on the course over time. The test was repeated after 4 days.

     

    Results showed that people with the variant did worse on both tests than the other participants, and they remembered less the second time.

    Researchers said a test to determine whether someone has the gene variant is not commercially available, but researchers like Dr. Stephen Cramer are looking into further implications of the variant.

     

    “I’d be curious to know the genetics of people who get into car crashes,” Cramer said. “I wonder if the accident rate is higher for drivers with the variant.”

     

    For more information on this study, check out UC Irvine’s website.

     

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  • Edmunds.com recently submitted a recommendation to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy to make new car window stickers more useful to car shoppers by highlighting usage costs rather than miles per gallon (mpg) numbers.

     

    Dealership stickers currently display mpg ratings, which is useful for comparing the overall efficiency of cars when shopping.  However, new technologies will soon make these comparisons obsolete due to their decreased usage of actual gasoline.  The current plan for these vehicles is to assign them a “mpg-equivalent” rating generated by complex algorithms.

     

    The EPA currently provides “annual usage costs” on window stickers as a separate statistic and makes the required assumptions necessary to do so. Edmunds wishes for these numbers to become the focus of the sticker’s mileage comparisons, rather than gasoline consumption. When using EPA figures in marketing, automakers should be required to use EPA-provided monthly cost estimates.

     

    While this proposal is being considered, Edmunds.com is providing a list of monthly fuel costs for all 2009 and 2010 model year vehicles so shoppers can make realistic comparisons. To produce this list, Edmunds’ statisticians used data and assumptions that mirror those used in its True Cost to Own tool.

     

    Would you like to see mpg-equivalent ratings when choosing fleet vehicles?  Leave us a comment and let us know.

     

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  • The Southeastern Arizona Behavioral Health Services’ (SEABHS) fleet has seen unusually high operating and maintenance costs due to the fact that the agency’s employees treat their work vehicles as personal cars, according to the San Pedro Valley News-Sun.

     

    Mercelino Varona, a new member to the board, said not one of the company vehicles is labeled “for company use only” or has the SEABHS logo.

    The SEABHS vehicle fleet is costing the agency more than $650,000 a year for maintenance and purchases, reported the Sun. Records show fuel costs last year for SEABHS were $293,923. In addition, SEABHS records outlining the car purchases revealed 26 were bought at a discount through the Arizona Department of Transportation. The rest of the cars were purchased directly from car lots.

     

    Board members criticized the fact that SEABHS has 119 vehicles, including cars and transportation vans – more than the entire City of Nogales, reported the Sun. Vehicles include a Dodge RamJeep LibertyDodge DakotaChevy Uplander, and Dodge Caravan, ranging from 1998 to 2008 model-years, but are mostly 2004 or newer.

     

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  • We are always happy to pass along the Kentucky Driver Manual’s tips for driving in hazardous conditions.  With wintry weather already becoming a problem across parts of the country, vehicle skidding is becoming more likely to affect both fleet and non-fleet drivers.

     

    Here are some helpful guidelines for regaining control of your vehicle if it begins to skid on an icy road:

     

    • Release the brake or accelerator. If you are skidding in a straight line and have to use the brakes, do not brake hard. This will only lock your wheels and make the skid worse. You should pump the brakes gently unless your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes, in which case you should apply steady pressure. Your brakes will work the best and stop you quicker if they are not locked up.
    • If you begin to skid sideways, you need to turn the wheel in the direction the back of the vehicle is skidding. This will allow the front of the vehicle to line up with the back.
    • As soon as the vehicle begins to straighten out, turn the wheel back to prevent the vehicle from skidding in the opposite direction.

     

    Continue to correct your steering, left and right, until you recover completely from the skid. The most important vehicle control to use during a skid is the steering wheel.

     

    Remember, when driving in any conditions it is important to keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times except when being used for another driving task.

     

    Forward these tips to your drivers, and encourage them to spread them around.  Getting into the habit of spreading advice on hazardous conditions will make the roads safer for everyone.

     

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  • When it comes to the safety of your drivers, it is important to provide information on the safest driving practices.  While we have all been told of the dangers of distractions from driving, it seems that most drivers do not believe that they are at risk.

     

    According to a new survey by legal information site findlaw.com, 9 out of 10 drivers admitted to engaging in distracting and potentially dangerous activities while driving.

     

    While many states are passing or considering laws to restrict activities such as sending text messages or talking on cell phones while driving, the survey found that 91 percent of drivers admit to trying to multitask while behind the wheel, with potentially dangerous consequences.

     

    The most common activities reported by survey respondents were:

     

     

    • Drinking coffee or other beverages- 81 percent
    • Eating- 76 percent
    • Talking on cell phone- 66 percent
    • Sending or receiving text messages- 26 percent
    • Applying makeup- 11 percent (21 percent of women)
    • Sending or receiving email- 8 percent
    • Reading a book or newspaper- 7 percent
    • Browsing the internet- 5 percent

     

    “Multitasking may be great in the office, but is often dangerous and illegal behind the wheel,” said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor with FindLaw.com. “Many states and localities have laws specifically prohibiting activities such as using a cell phone or sending a text message while driving.

     In addition, several states have laws that hold drivers accountable for distractions that could contribute to an accident.” 

    Certain distracting activities are particularly prevalent among younger drivers. More than half of drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 say they have sent or received a text message while driving. One out of 10 admits to having sent or received e-mails or surfed the Internet while behind the wheel.

     

    Make sure your fleet’s drivers know that safety begins with them, and to stay focused on the road.

     

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  • The Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that gas prices will reach an average of $2.81 per gallon in 2010 and will climb to nearly $3 per gallon next summer.

     

    “Higher crude oil prices throughout the forecast period” will contribute to the increase, say EIA officials. The average price of gas in 2009 is expected to be $2.36 per gallon.

     

    “Projected annual average diesel fuel retail prices are $2.48 and $2.94 per gallon, respectively, in 2009 and 2010,” according to the EIA.

    With an increase in fuel prices on the horizon, it is important to make sure your fleet is running at maximum fuel efficiency.  Here are a few simple tips to make sure you are getting your money’s worth at the pump:

     

     

    • Keep your engine properly tuned.  Regular maintenance will save you a bundle in the long run.
    • Keep all vehicles’ tires inflated to the manufacturer-recommended pressure.
    • Use the correct grades of motor oil and gasoline to ensure optimal performance for each vehicle.
    • Drive sensibly and observe posted speed limits.

     

     

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  • We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the benefits of electric and hybrid vehicles for fleet operations. But when the time comes to adopt new technologies, will people really be ready to make the switch?

     

     Automotive Fleet provides some interesting insight:

     

    Carlos Ghosn, head of the Nissan-Renault alliance, says that consumers’ adoption of electric vehicles will be a gradual process, with traditional gasoline-powered cars dominating the market for many years to come.

     

    Ghosn predicted that electric vehicles would most likely account for only about 10 percent of vehicles sold by 2020. Gasoline, diesel, hybrid engines and other technologies will power the rest. “We’re not going to take the market by storm,” said Ghosn. “Electricity is going to complement oil.”

     

    According to an Associated Press report, Ghosn made the remarks during a November 19thpanel discussion sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

     

    Ghosn acknowledged that Toyota Motor Co. has already taken an early lead in the hybrid market. While this may be true, he believes that Nissan Motor Co. can become a leader in the all-electric vehicle market within a reasonable amount of time. Next year, Nissan is releasing the Leafelectric car in on a limited scale and plans to put the all-electric vehicle into mass-production in 2012.

     

    Ghosn said demand from rising economies like China and India will help spur demand for electric cars.

     

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