Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

Market Trends

Morgan Stanley & Goldman Sachs Forecast $100-per-Barrel Oil in 2011

February 2, 2010, by Mike Antich - Also by this author

By Mike Antich

The investment banks of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley predict $100 per barrel or higher price for crude oil in 2011, according to a report by the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS). Goldman Sachs was the first to forecast a $100-plus-per-barrel crude oil price when the bank issued a research report last November, which called for a $110-per-barrel average price for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude in 2011. Morgan Stanley released a similar report in January and targets $95-per-barrel of WTI futures by December 2010, with an average price of $100 per barrel in 2011. The price of petroleum, as quoted in the news, generally refers to the spot price of WTI as traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).

 "If the Morgan Stanley projection is prescient and not simply another case of 'predicting what one wants to happen,' as an analyst suggested to OPIS, it would represent a future price spike of more than $20 per barrel per day for December 2010 through December 2011 WTI futures," said Tom Kloza, director, editorial content for OPIS. It would imply wholesale price increases for gasoline and diesel will be more than 50 cents per gallon above current numbers.

Impressive Demand Growth

Morgan Stanley warns that investors should not only focus on demand from the U.S. and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the U.S. According to Morgan Stanley, increased fuel demand will be driven by the impressive growth in China, India, Brazil, and other emerging markets.

"Global GDP growth, according to Morgan Stanley, is expected to average 4 percent in 2010 and will be led by the energy-intensive emerging economies. The bank projects global demand for oil will rise 1.7 million barrels per day this year. That rise will tighten markets, require an increase in OPEC production, and reduce world spare capacity of crude from 6.5 million barrels per day in late 2009 to 5.7 million barrels per day by late 2010," said Kloza.

For example, Morgan Stanley projects Chinese GDP will grow by 10 percent in 2010 and 8.5 percent in 2011. Since 2005, Chinese gasoline demand has increased 41 percent, despite a 122-percent increase in prices there. In 2009, China surpassed the U.S. in annual new-vehicle sales. By midyear, Morgan Stanley researchers suggest higher fuel prices may be necessary to curtail demand. The Morgan Stanley analysis states the next two years will look less like the last two and more like 2004-2008 when oil prices rose on increasing demand and flat supply.

Minimize 'Fuelish' Driving Behavior

Most observers consider it a safe guess to predict fuel prices will increase in the future. Fleets can react by modifying vehicle specifications, downsizing to smaller vehicles and engines, or by adopting hedging programs. The reality is that the overwhelming majority of factors that drive fuel prices are out of the control of fleet managers. One often overlooked option is modifying driver behavior. A large part of fleet fuel expenditures is controlled by drivers. Fleets must ensure drivers practice fuel-efficient driving habits. An ongoing driver awareness program is needed on how much excessive idling, aggressive driving behavior, and improper tire pressure affect mpg.

Driver Communication Program: Fleet managers should use e-mail newsletters to increase driver awareness of how their actions can increase or decrease fleet costs.

Avoid Unnecessary Idling: An idling engine gets zero miles per gallon. Unnecessary idling can represent a significant corporate expenditure. For instance, Verizon successfully reduced fuel costs by curbing unnecessary engine idling. Verizon estimates unnecessary idling cost the company about $20 million annually.

Maintain Proper Tire Inflation: One underinflated tire can cut fuel economy by 2 percent per pound of pressure below the proper inflation level. When a tire is underinflated by 4 to 5 psi below the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure, vehicle fuel consumption increases by 10 percent and, over time, causes a 15-percent reduction in tire tread life.

Drive the Speed Limit: Driving fast wastes gas. Traveling at 65 miles per hour uses 10-15 percent more fuel than driving at 55 mph. By adhering to speed limits, a driver will conserve fuel.

Use A/C Sparingly: An air conditioner is one of the biggest drains on engine power and fuel economy. It can reduce gas consumption by 5 to 20 percent. Don't use it as a fan to simply circulate air. Use the vent setting and fan to circulate air.

Leverage Small Savings: Small increases in mpg result in substantial savings when extrapolated across the entire fleet. A one mile-per-gallon fuel efficiency increase for a 1,000-vehicle fleet has the potential of saving over $1 million annually.

Let me know what you think.

[email protected]



  1. 1. john trent [ February 02, 2010 @ 01:23PM ]


    A good and timely article on a vital subject.I am interested in followimg up with you to write an outline for a story for your "Work Truck" publication that will address, among other benefits, a way to save med ium and heavy truck fleets a substantial amount of money in fuel costs by replacing a leaking charge air cooler with a patented and 100% leak -free cooler from my company(Dura-Lite Heat Transfer Products, Ltd.)

    Please check out our web site( and if you wish I will assemble a list of customers that have already submitted, or will submit, testimonials about their fuel savings, which can amount to over $5,000 per year per truck (depending on miles driven per day)

    Please let me know when we can speak further and how to proceed with the proper writer.

    kind regards,

    John Trent

  2. 2. Mike Butsch [ February 02, 2010 @ 07:54PM ]

    the Article on Oil Costs is Spot On! The relatively inexpensive fuel cost in recent months should be viewed as a "Gift". Fleet Managers should be moving to "Right Size" company vehicles in both unit counts and vehicle size. It is only a matter of time before we are back at $100 a barrel.

  3. 3. Tommy Nawrocki [ February 25, 2010 @ 08:58AM ]

    What utter nonsense! These are the guys who are leasing VLCC tankers to store oil that there is no demand for. All the talk of China and India'a "Demand" falls flat when you consider that combined they do not equal 1/4 of the demand of the US and OECD. Refineries are running at less than 90% capacity because gasoline demand is at 1990s levels. If these clowns make another run at oil we will see this recession last beyond Obama's term. Hey Mike , these fuel costs are nowhere near inexpensive historically. I remember Bill Clinton saying that $50 oil would be disasterous and that was during boom times. These talking heads have you all believing that oil is scarce. Week after week world inventories approach maximum capacity yet traders follw a wishful thinking approach and Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs sucker institutional investors into buying oil so they can make their sweet commision. I love capitalism and free markets but it doesnt take a genius to see who is manipulating the market with these self fulfilling prophecies.

  4. 4. Chad [ April 01, 2010 @ 05:41PM ]

    This is a modern version of ENRON being played out at the driving public's expense.Check out the ICE trading schemes the Goldman and Morgan Stanley use to drive up the market prices for their own profits.Demand for oil is flat to dropping.The price is rising due to the futures contracts being traded between this "banks" without a drop of oil ever being delivered.Call Congress to OUTLAW these robber barons!

  5. 5. Steven F Franz [ February 28, 2011 @ 05:19AM ]

    I "bumped" into this from a thread. Reading your editorial, no one knew of Mid East unrest timing, thus crude oil increases.

    Maybe (just maybe?) Tammy Nawrocki and Chad had it correct? It would sure seem that way.

    But to add a thought, what ever happened to the "Drill Here, Drill Now" election promisis? Obviously forgotten.

  6. 6. Davian [ July 25, 2011 @ 07:51AM ]

    You've hit the ball out the park! Incerdible!

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Mike Antich

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Mike Antich has covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and was inducted in the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010.

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