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Growing worldwide competition for a dwindling resource

International competition for petroleum is growing, in large part because rapidly rising standards of living in India and China are leading to a greater number of automobiles. India now has 5.4 million vehicles, up 500% in just 20 years.35 China has 34 million registered motor vehicles.36 In 2006, sales of personal autos rose 30% in China, to 5.8 million,37 and China's total vehicle sales reached 7.22 million. To put this into perspective, this is close to half the number of cars sold in the United States in 2007 (about 16 million).38 In 2003, China became the world's fourth-largest automobile-producing nation, behind only the U.S., Japan, and Germany.39 This increased competition alone is enough to push petroleum prices up. And they're going to go even higher. The cost of generating electricity with oil (and with natural gas) in the United States has been rising sharply. Domestic electricity cost 20% more in 2006 (the most recent date for which data are available) than in 1995.40

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