Gas prices in the United States have been taking a decidedly
downward turn in the past month (down 20 cents in three weeks from a
national average of $3.97 per gallon to the current $3.78 per gallon). However,
gas prices are still much higher than a year ago when the national average was
$2.74 per gallon according to GasBuddy.
There are some that are calling for lower oil prices to help
ease prices for consumers, and those calls are coming from an unlikely source.
Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, whose country is one of the founding members
of OPEC, wants to see oil
prices drop dramatically. In fact, Talal wants to see prices fall down to
roughly $70 to $80 per barrel (current prices are hovering around $100 per barrel).
Talal's reasoning for wanting lower prices comes from an
increasing interest from countries like the United States and global auto
manufacturers to develop vehicles that don't require gasoline or diesel fuel to
"We don't want the West to go and find
alternatives," said Talal in an interview
with CNN's Fareed Zakaria.
"Because, clearly, the higher the price of oil goes, the more they have
incentives to go and find alternatives."
President Obama is pushing for federal agencies to ditch
large, fuel hungry vehicles like Suburbans and Tahoes for more
fuel-efficient compact and subcompact cars wherever possible. The U.S.
government fleet is also taking baby steps with purchases of the all-electric Nissan
Leaf and the partial electric vehicles like the Chevrolet
And for the full-size SUVs that are still needed in the
government fleet, the Obama Administration wants increased use of E85
fuel that would further lessen our dependence on foreign oil sources to
sustain our transportation needs.
The overarching goal, however, is for automakers to develop
vehicles that can travel much further on a gallon of gasoline, boosting
CAFE averages to 35.5 mpg by 2016. This move will come by manufacturers
producing more vehicles that achieve
40 mpg or higher, and by stepping up the efforts with electric vehicles
like the Ford
Focus Electric and the Tesla
So it should come as no surprise that Talal doesn't want to
see the U.S. gravy train come to an end. If everyone is driving around in 50-mpg
vehicles, there will be less of a need for foreign oil. If everyone is driving
around in electric vehicles, well OPEC is in serious trouble.