NEW YORK - Some Americans have joined an e-mail war on Big Oil to protest record
high gasoline prices, calling for a long-term boycott of the nation's leading
fuel retailer ExxonMobil.
The move is a variation of Web-based protests against painful pump prices last
year that asked motorists to avoid buying fuel on a certain day, and analysts
said this one could have a similar effect at the pumps: unnoticeable.
"For the rest of the year, don't purchase any gasoline from the two biggest
companies (which are now one) Exxon and Mobil," said the e-mail, signed
by "Kerry Lyle" of the University of Alabama. A call to the university
revealed no one of that name in the faculty, staff, or student body.
"This makes much more sense than the 'don't buy gas on a certain day'
campaign," said the e-mail, which some Americans have circulated to their
acquaintances and which has landed in several chat rooms on the Web.
The e-mail says such a boycott could force ExxonMobil to slash prices to attract
customers back, triggering a gas war that may lower prices at other retailers
But analysts said that unless overall U.S. gasoline demand declines, or the
price of crude oil slips, the boycott of one company would do little to bring
down fuel prices.
"The primary reason for high gasoline prices is increased demand for energy
around the world, particularly from China and India," said Mike Shanahan,
spokesman for industry group the American Petroleum Institute.
"Crude oil costs money, refining it into gasoline costs money, transporting
it and operating a service station costs money," he added.
ExxonMobil declined to comment.
U.S. retail gasoline prices struck a record average of $2.27 a gallon this
week, bringing them about 28 percent higher than they were last year, according
to the AAA motorist group's daily survey.
The higher gasoline prices follow a spike in the cost of crude to nearly $60
a barrel, continuing a prolonged rally on the back of surprising global demand
While gasoline prices are at their highest ever in nominal terms, they remain
below the inflation-adjusted peak of around $3 hit in the 1980s.
Skyrocketing prices may finally be having a dampening effect on U.S. consumer
demand for energy, though it is too early to say for certain, the U.S. Energy
Information Administration said this week.
"We may be discerning a bigger demand impact from prices, but it's too
early to know definitely," said Doug MacIntyre, analyst for the EIA.
In the past two weeks, total energy demand amounted to 20.2 million barrels
per day, down from 20.5 million barrels per day a year ago, according to the
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