A number of factors are conspiring to create a situation that recently would have been unthinkable: the United States as a supplier of gasoline to world markets. According to Booz & Company, those factors are the rise of biofuels in the West, the introduction of plug-in electric and other alternative fuel vehicles, and the growth of the really cheap car, like the Tata Nano.

The United States imports oil to feed its gasoline habit, but the U.S. has refining capacity that developing nations cannot match. The U.S. is also lowering its reliance on traditional gasoline due to the price, states' mandates on switching to biofuels, and the dawn of mass market alternative fuel vehicles. This adds up to the United States importing oil, and then selling it to nations like India and China to feed their larger appetites for gasoline.

In the middle of all of this are the refineries, who made predictions for today's business plans two decades ago. Sure, no one is crying for them -- they need extra pages to include the zeros on their profit statements -- but they have to start figuring out who's going to need which products and how they are going to deliver them. And, by refining company standards, they need to do it quickly, which is a method of operation they aren't well versed in.

[Source: Green Car Congress via Kicking Tires; Photo CC 2.0 - National Archives]