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If supplies are dwindling, why watch petroleum go up in smoke?

On May 15, 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that Aramco, a highly profitable state-run Saudi oil giant, had signed a huge deal with Dow Chemical. Why would the world's largest producer of fuel oil be interested in making a deal with a chemical company? Since petroleum is an excellent base for many artificial chemicals, a large number of very popular and very profitable products—including most plastics—that most of us would be unwilling to do without are made with them. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Aramco-Dow agreement is supposed to lead in 2013 to a joint venture that will build plants to produce 7 million tons a year of these chemicals.41 And by the end of May 2008, Dow Chemical announced that it would have to raise the price of its petrochemicals 20% because of the rising price of crude oil.42 Why waste whatever petroleum we have left by burning it all up fast as fuel? Why not use alternative energy sources and save petroleum for other important purposes that use much less of it?

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