Gas guzzling

Cheap Oil Threatens Green Economy

Autos stehen Schlange an einer Tankstelle der Metro in Dortmund aufgrund niedriger Benzinpreise, Objekte; 2008, Dortmund, Deutschland, Tankstelle, Benzin, Benzinpreis, PKW; , quer, Kbdig, Totale, Mineralölindustrie, Wirtschaft, , Straße, Verkehr, , Europa
Oil is getting cheaper.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Cheap oil is a boon for consumers and businesses, but acts as a disincentive in the pursuit of greener energy sources and technologies.

  • Facts


    • Low oil prices benefit many sectors, including airlines, shipping and the auto and chemical industries.
    • With high demand for large cars, trucks and SUVs, automakers are less inclined to pursue the development of more fuel-efficient technology.
    • Cheap kerosene has prompted airlines to keep older aircraft in service longer than planned.
  • Audio


  • Pdf

A rare phenomenon is on display at gas stations today: Drivers are smiling as they pull away from the pump, where a liter of super unleaded gasoline costs €1.25, or $1.36, and a liter of diesel goes for €1.

People are feeling enthusiastic as they get into their cars, and they can finally sing along to the 1980s song by German pop singer Markus: “I’m Stepping on the Gas, And I’m Having Fun.” Thank god for cheap oil.

Passionate motorists aside, drivers aren’t the only ones who are thrilled by low fuel prices. Entire industries are benefiting from cheap fuel: Airlines, which can use any break they can get in a relentlessly competitive price environment; shipping companies, which can expand their narrow profit margins because of cheap gasoline; and automakers – especially in the United States – whose gas-guzzling mega SUVs are in greater demand than ever.

Consumers and businesses alike can consume to their hearts’ content without having to worry too much about the cost. And cheap energy is even keeping inflation in check.

Meanwhile, the flipside of cheap oil is being completely overshadowed. It isn’t the pain of oil companies or countries like Russia, whose oil and gas revenues have declined sharply.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.