Monday, July 21, 2008

More Cold Water -- Make that Cold Oil

Yesterday I was catching up on my blog reading when I encountered Tom Mannis' piece Drill Now! I emailed him about it, because I am concerned that the folks who are advocating drilling are doing so without clearly understanding what we are up against in time and money. I referenced this post, and in particular this article. My point to Tom is that our "leaders" of all political persuasions are not really explaining to the public what the reality of drilling is going to be. This is not going to be a panacea or provide instant gratification, which means pump prices won't just tumble to the ground on the whisper that the ANWR or the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) are open to drilling. There is no plan for the interim between today and that tomorrow.

Today, The Oil Drum produced some real zingers along that same thought process.

First -- Robert Rapier takes on the Dems (the Repubs are next on his list) regarding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and why releasing oil from it is a bad idea. The discussion that follows is pretty lively.

Second -- a series of articles are appearing that question just how quickly new oil can be produced, assuming it is there to begin with.

CNN posts an article on the speculative nature of the reserves everyone thinks is out there on the OCS, and how long before we can expect to see some oil. Prices may drop, but how much and for how long really depends on whether any oil is found in great quantity, and other external events in the world. Another CNN report, focused on Alaska reinforces that point.

An article in Spiegel Online International carries the speculation even further, suggesting a 22 year lag before any new production in previously banned areas would significantly impact the US domestic production.

The Associated Press (AP) joins the chorus with the suggestion that the structure of leases not to mention other issues, demonstrate that it takes more than a Presidential order, or a Congressional mandate, to get oil out of the ground quickly.

At the end of the day we will drill in the places we previously placed off limits for the reasons I gave Tom; economic viability, political will, the ability to better manage environmental risks. But all that drilling is a very long way off, and the oil that may appear is even further away. What do our politicians propose to do in the meantime? For the record, I agree with Rapier and opening the SPR is not the answer.

1 comment:

The North Coast said...

Kheris, I'm of the same mind as James Howard Kunstler on the matter of drilling in places now off limits to drilling, that might contain considerable reserves...

... or might NOT contain them.

Go ahead and drill, so as to shut up the right-wing morons who think we can just "drill, drill, drill" our way out of this. I believe we will be very disappointed in what is found there. The most reliable estimates of reserves I've heard for Alaska's north slope is about 20 billion barrels, of which perhaps 5 billion may be recoverable.

5 billion there, 3 billion here, another 4.5 over there, and in a few more places, and we just might, over the next 20 years, be able to extract a 4-year supply of oil for the entire world.

People need to remember that any oil extracted won't be reserved for use by the U.S., but will go on the world market, which will soak it up pretty rapidly. If this bothers right-wingers, they should remember that they have been the ones ranting about the benefits of globalization, and shut their traps.

Global oil consumption is about 31 billion barrels a year, and about a quarter of that is consumed by the U.S., which uses 7.3 billion barrels a year- 22 million barrels a day.