Gasoline is a transparent petroleum-derived liquid that is primarily used as a fuel in internal combustion engines. It consists mostly of organic compounds obtained by the fractional distillation of petroleum, enhanced with a variety of additives. Some gasoline also contain ethanol as an alternative fuel.

The usage and pricing of gasoline or petrol results from factors such as crude oil prices, processing and distribution costs, local demand, the strength of local currencies, local taxation, and the availability of local sources of gasoline (supply). Since fuels are traded worldwide the trade prices are similar, the price paid by consumers largely reflects national pricing policy: some regions, such as Europe and Asia, impose high taxes on gasoline (petrol); others, such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, subsidize the cost. Western countries have among the highest usage rates per person. The largest consumer is the USA.

Finished motor gasoline meets the basic requirements for fuel that is suitable for use in spark ignition engines. Some finished motor gasoline may require additional blending with ethanol (a renewable fuel and oxygenate), detergents and other additives, and higher octane gasoline before it is delivered to retail outlets for sale to end users. Most of the gasoline that oil refineries produce is actually unfinished gasoline (or gasoline blendstocks). Gasoline blendstocks require additional blending and usually require ethanol before delivery to retail outlets as finished gasoline.

Blending terminals are more numerous and widely dispersed than refineries, and they have equipment for loading trucks that transport finished gasoline to retail outlets.

Most of the motor gasoline now sold contains about 5-10% of fuel ethanol by volume. Ethanol is added to gasoline mainly to meet the requirements of the Renewable Fuels Standard, which is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Gasoline varies by grade

Three main grades of gasoline are sold at retail gasoline refueling stations:

  • Regular
  • Midgrade
  • Premium

Some companies have different names for these grades of gasoline, such as unleaded, super, or super premium, but they all indicate the octane rating, which reflects the anti-knock properties of gasoline. Higher octane ratings result in higher prices.

The future development of fuel ethers is closely linked to the development of the European gasoline market.

In Europe, ethers make up about 4% of the gasoline supply. The largest gasoline consuming countries are Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, France and Spain, which account for 66% of the EU27 gasoline consumption. If the Netherlands, Greece, Poland and Sweden are added, then this figure rises to 82%. This means that the future development of the European gasoline market, and with it the blending of fuel ethers, relies primarily on the developments in these 9 countries.

European gasoline demand has declined as of late as a result of the continuing dieselization of the passenger car fleet. Because of this strong demand for diesel, the European refining industry is not balanced anymore in terms of gasoline and diesel production and consumption.

Gas prices in Europe are counted among the highest worldwide. At 7.08 U.S. dollars per gallon, gasoline is particularly expensive in Norway, although the country is located in a region where oil is abundant. Car drivers in India and Pakistan feel the most pain at the pump, though.

The high price in countries such as Turkey and the Netherlands is largely attributable to taxes. Other factors driving gas prices include local demand, processing and distribution costs, the strength or weakness of local currencies, and the aforementioned crude oil prices.

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