Wal-Mart may market Flex Fuel
There are an estimated 5 million vehicles on U.S. roads today that are ethanol capable; that is to say these cars can run on a renewable fuel produced from corn, sugar cane, and even cellulose. General Motors, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler have all recently announced plans to increase annual production of what are known as flex
fuel vehicles to two million units by the year 2010. This projection is twice the current production rate in what is becoming known as 'Live
Green, Go Yellow". This movement towards renewable fuels will be the single largest commitment in the history of flex fuels and the automobile industry. Many see this action as a positive move for US automakers, as well as our planet's ecosystem.
Cars and trucks that operate on E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, could prove to be an effective way to reduce the carbon emissions linked to global warming, as well as reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil. Wal-Mart is working towards an environmentally friendly future, and that plan includes widespread availability of things like alternative fuels and ways to cut energy costs. It's not surprising to hear that the big oil companies are not, as a rule, interested in selling E85; they already have production facilities in place for gasoline and are reporting record profits in 2006. Gulf
Coast refineries are scheduled to begin the process of setting up to produce E85, and that will likely add to already bloated bank accounts as gasoline will be limited while the demand will remain steady. Add to that, the 2006 Hurricane season is ramping up, and BP 'suddenly' discovered that a pipeline from Alaska had developed leaks. The pipeline is shutdown until such time as repairs can be made, thereby limiting supplies to west coast refineries, and driving record prices even higher. Following the announcement of the shutdown, investors bid up the price of light sweet crude oil for September delivery, as they watched the Middle saga continue, up more than $2.00.
Wal-Mart is considering selling ethanol at some
stations that it operates at Wal-Mart Stores and at more than 375
facilities that runs under the popular, Sam's Clubs division. There
are approximately 800 fuel service stations out over 168,000 stations
in the US that offer E85. There's not a single E85 pump, for example,
in all of New England. Wal-Mart has a partnership with Murphy
Oil Corp. which operates more than 900 gas stations in Wal-Mart
parking lots. Wal-Mart has no known reasons to not sell E85, which
it calls "America's Fuel" at the rest of its 3,000+ U.S.
stores. Rich Ezell, senior strategy manager of fuel at Wal-Mart,
is quoted as saying, "Our goal would be to make E-85 available
across the U.S." Advocates of ethanol believe that if Wal-Mart
agrees to distribute E85, it could be a catalyst to making ethanol
a mainstream alternative to gasoline for millions of Americans. "That
would be a complete game-changer," said Reid Detchon, the
executive director of the Energy Future Coalition. "Everybody
knows where the local Wal-Mart is and would immediately know where
to buy E85."
Wal-Mart has good reason to get into the transportation
fuel business. Selling ethanol would be a new profit center for
Wal-Mart, and since the retailing business is wide-open, they would
immediately become the widest outlet. Following along with the 'always the lowest price' slogan,
E85 outlets would also a way for the company to help its customers
save money on fuel. The theory is that the less money they pour
into the tank, the more they have to spend at Wal-Mart, and since
they drove to Wal-Mart to get the fuel, a quick stop into the store
is almost guaranteed.