Abnormal relationships between supply and demand are common in the oil industry for a variety of reasons, including the cartels that control its generation, but this year's rapid price rises have wreaked more havoc than typical on the market. One of the end results is that the constant level of refined fuel output may actually exceed demand in the U.S. by 2010, leading to the net export of petrol.

The counter-intuitive result arises in part from the government-mandated push for biofuel production and its use as an additive to petrol, which will offset petrol consumption by 600,000 to 700,000 barrels per day by 2012. That output level is expected to outpace the growth in petrol demand over the same time period due to the rise of more efficient standard vehicles, hybrids and electric cars.

Combined with the existing trend toward driving less, consulting firm Booz & Company thinks the U.S. could actually be facing a fuel supply excess rather than a shortage, as early as 2009 or 2010, reports Green Car Congress.

An already high capacity for distillation is being continually expanded, as the U.S. is expected to build in another six million barrels per day of capacity by 2012. Coupled with an expected global growth in demand, the excess capacity would eventually be used to produce petrol for export.

Potential markets for the exported petrol include China and especially India, where the Tata Nano and similar projects are expected to have a direct effect on global demand levels. Unfortunately, however, the high costs of transporting the fuel to these countries will rapidly take away much of the existing profit margin in the fuel's production.