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Fri Mar 16, 2012, 04:42 PM

Obama's Oil Flim-Flam - Krauthammer in the Washington Post

Last edited Fri Mar 16, 2012, 05:21 PM - Edit history (2)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obamas-oil-flimflam/2012/03/15/gIQA7x77ES_story.html

Krauthammer goes off on a typical Conservative rant of irrelevancies and distortions in his article in today's WaPo. Basically he makes the oft heard conservative argument that we can produce enough oil domestically to significantly increase our independence on imported oil and bring down the price of that oil, if only the Democrats would allow drilling everywhere domestically. In fact, legitimate reviews of our potential domestic supplies of oil have concluded that we could only produce about 1% to 3% of our needs using increased domestic production of oil.

Scientific American
So are promises of U.S. oil independence real—or rhetoric? The issue is not whether the U.S. can significantly reduce its reliance on oil imports with domestic, offshore oil, say both Kaufman and Nathan, but whether there is enough that is recoverable to significantly lower the price of a barrel of oil on the global market.

{"...industry experts say no matter how much oil there may be offshore, only some of it will be "recoverable," that is, able to be removed at a cost that's cheap enough to guarantee oil companies enough profit on their investment."}

Even by 2030, offshore drilling would not have a significant impact on oil prices, according to Martin, because oil prices are determined on the global market. "The amount of total production anticipated—around 200,000 barrels a day—would be less than 1 percent of the total projected international consumption."

(.. since we consume about 25% of the world's oil supply that would mean greatly expanded U.S. production of oil might equal 4% of our domestic needs ...by 2030.)


Krauthammer would have us believe we can drill off the coast and be delivering more gas in a couple months. It takes about 5 years, at best, to go from exploring an area known to have oil beneath it, to producing a steady flow of oil for refining. And how much could we find of domestic sourced oil? Maybe about 3% to 5% of our needs. THAT'S WHY DRILLING FOR DOMESTIC OIL IS NOT A PLAN.

Regarding the Keystone pipeline, why do they want to build a pipeline all the way to Louisiana when there is plenty of refining capacity in the Midwest - which just happens to be right in the population center of our gasoline market? Simple. The oil companies want to refine the tar sands oil into diesel for sale (from a duty free area in Louisiana) to foreign buyers. None of it is planned for domestic sale. It's not that much of a loss though. The Keystone Pipeline will produce about 3% of our needs, in about FIVE YEARS. In a few more years they MIGHT get to 5% of our demand.

Amid all the talk about high oil prices nobody is noting that West Texas oil which for decades sold at a premium to North Sea Brent has in the last few years been selling for LESS THAN North Sea Brent.

One thing that nobody seems to notice among all the talk about high oil prices is that West Texas Intermediate oil for decades sold at a PREMIUM to North Sea Brent - ABOUT 6% TO 8%. In the last several years that began to change. Amazingly, WTI's premium over NSB oil began to shrink around 2005-2006. By 2006 the premium was only 1.1%. In 1997 WTI was selling at a .7% DISCOUNT to North Sea Brent. And in 2011 West Texas Intermediate was selling at a 14% discount to North Sea Brent. And why is that? The narrowing of the WTI premium and then the discounting of WTI relative to North Sea Brent just happened to coincide with the production of Ethanol in significant volume in the U.S.

Now, in the last year the price of oil has been pushed up by speculators due to Supply risks presented by 1) The Arab Spring, and 2) Iran's progress toward producing a nuclear bomb. The increasing risk to the supply of oil has increased the impact ethanol has on the price of oil/gas in the U.S. as ethanol is unaffected by any risks tothe supply of mid-East oil. But when you consider that historically, West Texas oil's premium has been about 6% - 8% (to North Sea Brent) and the fact that West Texas oil is now trading about 14% BELOW North Sea Brent this means Ethanol has reduced the price of domestically produced (and mostly domestically consumed) oil by 20% - 22%!

Now since about half our gasoline supply comes from imported oil that reduces Ethanol's lowering impact on the price of gas about half. So, we can say that ethanol has kept our gasoline prices about 10% to 11% lower than they would have been if we were not producing ethanol at a volume equal to a little over 10% of our light transportation fuel supply. So, if it weren't for ethanol we would be paying about $.40 MORE for gas than we currently are.


Of course, we could do more by making methanol from natural gas (for about $1.60, wholesale) and add that to the ethanol up to about another 5% of the fuel supply (for use only in Flex Fuel Vehicles of course) saving even more.

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Reply Obama's Oil Flim-Flam - Krauthammer in the Washington Post (Original post)
Bill USA Mar 2012 OP
JohnWxy Mar 2012 #1
marmar Mar 2012 #2
louis-t Mar 2012 #3
murpheeslaw Mar 2012 #4
DallasNE Mar 2012 #5

Response to Bill USA (Original post)

Fri Mar 16, 2012, 05:14 PM

1. Excellent, especially re supplementing ethanol with methanol. this is a viable shorter term

approach than waiting twenty years for electric cars to make much of a difference. Of course before that could happen, the price of gas will so stultify our economy even fewer people will be able to afford to buy conventional hybrids let alone PHEVs, so it will take even longer than twenty years for electrics to reduce gasoline consumption perhaps 17%.

Too bad neither Secretary Chu nor Obama have woken up to this economic reality.


recommended!

(hang in there, maybe someday, somebody will wake up and realize practical solutions have to be employed before we can get to the more expensive approaches otherwise we'll never get where we want to be.)


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Response to Bill USA (Original post)

Fri Mar 16, 2012, 05:32 PM

2. Krauthammer and sanity have long since parted ways.

nt

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Response to Bill USA (Original post)

Fri Mar 16, 2012, 06:26 PM

3. Repugs always ignore the reality of their phony argument.

We export a lot of oil. Oil that would cut our import needs. That will never stop unless the oil companies are nationalized. Their argument dead ends every time.

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Response to Bill USA (Original post)

Fri Mar 16, 2012, 07:25 PM

4. I always thought Krauthammer looked like a Vogon

writes like one too . . .

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Response to Bill USA (Original post)

Sat Mar 17, 2012, 02:29 AM

5. One Thing This Doesn't Explain

Is what gas prices are so high relative to the price of crude. Gas prices today are roughly 15 cents below the peak in 2008. Brent crude today is roughly $123 a barrel whereas Brent crude reached $149 in 2008. I have heard that Wall Street speculators add roughly 55 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas, which is just about exactly the premium we are seeing relative to 2008 prices. It seems to me that if Republicans wanted to lower the price of gas they would regulate the industry to eliminate the speculator premium.

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