Who would have predicted that only a handful of yearís ago?
For years the future price of oil was a one-way bet, with prices heading into one direction.
And yet, at a time when both the US and Western Europe, two main drivers of global economic growth, are well on the way of getting back into their strides, global oil prices have not picked up, but have plummeted instead.
Oil prices have slumped almost 75 per cent during the past year and a half, dropping below the $30 levels only last week.
If some visionaries are to be believed, the bottom has not yet been reached.
A greatly welcome by-product of these recent trends, for motorists, if not the oil producers, the good times are back again.
Pump prices, even in high-tax Europe, have continued to move steadily into a downward direction.
In the process, in mainland Europe, the litre price of diesel for instance has now dropped past the psychologically significant one Euro level, and of late prices have slumped even below Ä0.90 per litre.
Now, for American consumers thatís still more than twice the price they pay these days, but here in Europe thatís perceived as seriously cheap.
So much so that Europeís long-stressed motorists can now be seen filling up their cars with a broad grin of
That loyalty has surprised a great number of market observers.
Reality is that of late diesels have taken a severe hammering and were justifiably subjected to a forever swelling tide of negative press coverage.
Nevertheless, among Europeís diesel car owners, all this condemnation was like water of a duckís back.
Joe Public, latest AID compiled numbers suggest, cares precious little about NOx emissions, and continues to give diesels the thumbs up.
That at least is the message from latest European car sales numbers showing that during last yearís 4th quarter, following the deeply damaging revelations of VWís dieselgate affair in September, the sales share going to diesels eased back only slightly to 52.2 per cent.
Last yearís highest quarterly diesel share in Western Europe.
However, given the significance of motoring costs to Europeís average drivers, all that could be changed at short notice.
Say a significant extra tax burden for diesel cars, plus a sharp hike in diesel fuel tax.
Such discriminatory measures aimed specifically at diesel cars, could force a notable rethink among Europeís cost-conscious motorists and potentially lead to rapid and significant switch back to petrol fuelled cars.
But what would be gained?
Carmakers, thanks to the higher CO2 emission from petrol cars would stand next to no realistic chance of complying with the EUís ultra tough 95g/km fleet-average levels by 2021.
Billions ploughed of late into diesel engine technology would be wasted and the global oil industry could conceivably drown in a forever expanding ocean of surplus diesel fuel.
No notable win-win scenario in CO2 terms, unless, as is the case in Norway today, electricity is generated
from near 100 per cent from renewable sources.
Moreover, the continuing need for tempting electric car subsidies, at least in the short and medium term, adds up to a horror scenario for Europeís already cash starved governments.
Whatís more, todayís electric cars, bought chiefly by the better off, are effectively subsidised by taxes from normal wage earners.
Now thereís a conflict.
Surely better to improve forthwith the offending and lax on-road NOx emissions of todayís otherwise much-loved diesels, while keeping things largely as they stand.
Europeís happy diesel car buyers, bursting into a chorus with carmaker and oil industry voices, would surely say amen to