Record oil prices: Stay home with the kids


Crude oil and gasoline future prices are up to new highs, coming close to $115 per barrel. At the same time, the inventory of crude oil fell last week, meaning there is less product in reserves, and that could push prices higher too. And for those of us living in crazy locations like Milwaukee, we have an added piece to the oil price puzzle: boutique blends. You probably only know about boutique gas blends if you're in an area penalized with them.

The concept is simple, the government decides on a special blend of gasoline that it wants to force consumers to use in a particular area. The oil refineries must make gas to these specifications, just for these small geographic areas. Does that sound inefficient to you? It is!

In areas requiring boutique blends, the gas prices are even higher than the norm everywhere else. The process really makes no sense. There is no benefit to the boutique gas, as far as I can see, but the gas prices are higher because the refineries have to jump through hoops to produce a low-selling boutique fuel rather than the standard fuel they produce for everyone else.

Summer's coming and gas prices don't seem to be coming down anytime soon. I predict more families will be planning on having fun at home, which isn't necessarily a bad idea. It stinks that gas prices will force people to stay home more, but look at it as an opportunity to spend more quality time with your loved ones!

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.