Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pumpin' Gas

Oh for the good old days. The days when there were Volkswagen Beetles with eight gallon gas tanks, and gas was twenty five cents a gallon. You could fill up for two dollars. On a recent trip to Alaska, our tour guide told us all of the oil flowing through the Alaskan Pipe Line was being sold to China. We are routinely held hostage by minor dictators who control huge oil reserves, while our own oil is held hostage by well meaning but mis-informed special interest groups. In addition to this, our governmental standards stifle the building of new refineries, and personal greed and taxes keep the price per barrel high. The cost of fuel causes everything to go up except wages. I believe in a fair price, but I think we are being scammed. For example; A station buys gasoline based on fifty dollar a barrel oil one day and the next day the price jumps to eighty dollars a barrel. Now, the station still has fifty dollar a barrel gasoline in its tanks, but it starts charging for the eighty dollar a barrel gasoline as soon as the increase in crude is announced. Not all stations run out at the same time, but the price at nearly every station changes at the same time. Something is wrong with this picture. Getting someone to tell you exactly how this all works is like getting information from a Congressman. They may tell you, but it is highly unlikely that you will understand the answer. Well, a friend of mine sent me some tips on how to maximize you gasoline purchases until we get this all figured out.


I don't know what you guys are paying for gasoline; but, here in California we are also paying higher, up to $3.50 per gallon. But my line of work has been in petroleum for about 31 years, so here are some tricks to get more of your money's worth for every gallon.Here at the Kinder Morgan Pipeline where I work in San Jose, CA we deliver about 4 million gallons in a 24-hour period thru the pipeline. One day is diesel the next day is jet fuel, and gasoline, regular and premium grades. We have 34-storage tanks here with a total capacity of 16,800,000 gallons.Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the gasoline. When it gets warmer gasoline expands; so, buying in the afternoon or in the evening means your gallon is not exactly a gallon.In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the temperature of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products plays an important role. A 1-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for this business. But the service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps. When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode. If you look you will see that the trigger has three (3) stages: low, middle, and high. In slow mode you should be pumping on low speed, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping. All hoses at the pump have a vapor return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some of the liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you're getting less worth for your money.One of the most important tips is to fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL or HALF EMPTY. The reason for this is, the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupying its empty space. Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation. Here where I work, every truck that we load is temperature compensated so that every gallon is actually the exact amount.Another reminder, if there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, drive off, DO NOT buy gasoline - most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles to the bottom.Hope this will help you get the most value for your money.

Will Rogers said, "There is no trick to being humorous when you have the whole government working for you." He also said, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."