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Subject: Why don't we pump domestic oil?


I drove through Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas last October (2007) when oil was only $70 a barrel.

Took the scenic route for a photo safari from the east coast along a bunch of two lane roads parallel to I-40, 
then up across the Texas panhandle on the way out to Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde and Monument Valley.

Coming back I drove across the Permian Basin Texas from I-10 to I-20, east through Dallas and back down
to Shreveport & Cajun country.

Every one of those old oil wells I saw along the way was either pumping already or had a crew working on it 
to get it started pumping again. And I saw the portable rigs out drilling new wells in Oklahoma and Texas.

Now that oil is almost twice what it was back in October 2007, you better believe we *ARE* opening those old wells.

And here's something I didn't know how it was broken down until a few days ago ...

The US uses something like 20 million barrels of oil per day.

We produce 5 million barrels a day - 25% Texas, 21% California, 24% Alaska, and 14% Louisiana
... all the other oil producing states account for about 15%

That means we produce 25% of the oil we use, and import the other 75%. BUT ...

One half the oil we import (38% of daily consumption) comes from the western hemisphere; 
North & South America - Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Mexico and Venezuela.

One third of the oil we import comes from Canada and Mexico alone (25% of total daily consumption).

Canada is the largest exporter of oil to the US; Saudi Arabia is second and Mexico is third,
but only 1/4 of the oil we import (19% of daily consumption) actually comes from the middle east.

We import almost as much from Africa - Nigeria, Angola, Algeria & Chad - as we do from 
the middle east (15% of daily consumption).

Anyway, the point is this.

The world is at or past peak oil production, and the oil companies are manipulating the price to gouge 
all the profits they can while they still can. Oil production is going to decline, and the rate of decline is going to accelerate.

Saudi Arabia is already pumping as fast as they can. They're bluffing about additional capacity. 
They couldn't open the taps if they wanted to.

The price of oil is what it is because demand is INELASTIC, i.e. the fall off in demand is less 
than the increase in price. And that's partly because we don't have alternatives.

If you were dumb enough to buy an SUV back when gas was less than $1.50 a gallon, 
how are you going to unload it now that gas is approaching or above $4.00 a gallon?

And, unless you live in one of a very few large cities, you MUST have a car if you want to go to work. 
There is no public transportation. With the mortgage crisis, there ain't no more using your house as an 
ATM to suck out the value in order spend, spend, spend. You're stuck with that gas guzzlin' road hog.

You don't have many choices - you want to work, you gotta drive to get there, and that means you 
gotta buy gas, no matter how much it costs. There's only so much you can do in car-pooling and
cutting out unnecessary trips to reduce your demand.

I've managed to cut my vehicle use in 2008 by about 25% compared to the same period in 2007, 
and I've still spent about 10% more for gas.

Part of that is a kind of Catch-22; I'm driving fewer miles by cutting out those long road trips, 
so my gas mileage is down to 28 mpg average instead of the 33 mpg average I had in 2007 
when I was getting out on the highways more.

I even got up around 36 mpg average on that long road trip last October. 
But that trip looks like my last hurrah ... unless I can figure out how to convert an old, dead, 
Ford Escort into a Mother Earth News gas-electric DIY hybrid (financin's the problem)!

Read Krugman's latest essay on "Stranded in Surburbia". 

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