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AUTOMOTIVE INSIGHT: Should the U.S. Drill for more Oil?

June 27th, 2008 at 7:00pm

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There’s a raging debate going on in the country about whether we should drill for more oil. Here are some facts to consider in that debate.

The United States is a major producer of oil. We produce about 40 percent of all the oil we use. And we could produce more. It’s estimated there are about 31 billion barrels of proven reserves in the U.S. of untapped crude, and maybe a lot more.

Currently, we import 60 percent, or about 13 million barrels a day, of petroleum products. About 30 percent of our imports come from Canada and Mexico, who are our largest oil suppliers. But 40 percent of our imports come from OPEC countries.

Environmental critics say doing more drilling will not be enough to reduce prices much, and they’re right. But those in favor of energy security point out that if the U.S. did tap that oil, we could cut off all imports from OPEC for the next 16 years. And that’s what this argument is about, balancing the environmental risk against a national security risk.

5 Comments to “AUTOMOTIVE INSIGHT: Should the U.S. Drill for more Oil?”

  1. John Says:

    If Cuba and China start to drill off Florida, who is going to pay for the oil spill clean up?

    Either we drill for the oil in a safe and secure way or the communists will take our oil and leave us with their mess to clean up.

    Anybody with a functional brain could figure this one out.

    The national defense aspect just reinforces the common sense argument above.

    We drill off Florida or the commies will.

  2. Tom Martin Says:

    I’m OK with offshore drilling, and drilling in parks. But I don’t believe should increase our oil production. If anything, we should reduce it so that future generations have oil.

    It makes no sense to me to increase production and completely run out of oil in 15-20 years.

    We should gradually reduce oil production, and at the same time greatly increase alternatives, e.g. solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, etc. And we should have a tax on new vehicles (including boats, planes, farm equipment, bulldozers, etc.) that run solely on gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel.

  3. John Says:

    Tom,

    I think the near future demand from developing nations is the problem. The recent demand destruction in the U.S. at peak driving season had no effect at all on the oil markets.

    The market is looking at the future supply disaster on the horizon, and that demand will be from developing nations.

    If you want oil to be left for future generations, you need to get the developing nations to bypass the old U.S. transportation model. Sell them electric cars.

    The developing nations will drill that oil off the Florida coast if we don’t and the only way we can stop them is to take control of the oil fields first.

    That means drill now in a defensive mode, then we are in control.

  4. John Says:

    Taking the US out of the global oil consumption market by drilling our own oil will only depress global fuel prices and make it more likely that developing nations will consume the cheap oil.

    Something we can learn from my 2 year old: Give him some candy (oil) and he puts it in a pile and comes back for some more candy (oil). Only after exhausting the parents candy supply (global capacity availability) does he dip into his own supply. Strategic oil says the reserves here in the US should be somewhat safeguarded as long as global oil is relatively cheaply available. Castles in the middle ages were designed to have their own water supply to survive a siege.

    Electrics are not the answer – they only transfer the oil problem to coal or nuclear (not the best choices either), with the additional overhead of electric line transmission losses and conversion losses from mining coal->transporting coal->burning coal->generating steam->spinning turbine->generating electricity->transmission losses->battery storage->conversion to mechanical power.

    Rising fuel prices are the best thing for the US – forcing alternative thinking like wind power (crazy Californians spending a decade trying to keep wind farms out! Ha!) Photocells, wave power, etc. CAFE never really did it for consumers – who just upgraded to SUVs/Trucks from those old fuel efficient cars from the last energy problem.

    I’ve always driven cars that get higher than average fuel economy (25-40mpg). While I don’t like to fill a tank at $4.25 per gallon ($60), I know that it’s increasing the US resolve to look at alternative energy and strategically get off the oil addiction. I remember how quickly the surge in small car production and alternatives happened in the late 1970s. US politicians should have been increasing fuel taxes (like a couple of European countries have done to shield from imports) but that would never happen.

    Only market economics will fix the problem.

  5. John Says:

    “Only market economics will fix the problem.”

    When foreign Nations subsidise oil/fuel prices for their citizens, and currency is not allowed to float, market economics are distorted and can’t be relied on 100 percent.

    We need to look at the big picture on the horizon.

    1. Global population is exploding.

    2. Thanks to Wall Street, now this exploding population wants to consume HUGE amounts of energy.

    3. The only common sense thing to do now, is to make this exploding populations use of energy as efficient as possible and make sure that it is NOT BASED ON OIL.