Weekly Comments Archive
Archived Issue
Sunday, October 23, 2022
ISSUE #1132
Why can’t we produce our own oil?

What is your opinion on the future of fossil fuel? Do you want to phase out of oil and gas drilling by 2030? Do you think it’s possible?

Can solar and wind energy replace all fossil fuels by 2050? Are the people who believe that ‘tilting at windmills?’

Regardless of YOUR view, many environmental activists, including several in Congress and the Biden Administration, want us to stop drilling. They want to pass a law forbidding banks from lending money to companies in the oil, gas and coal business. Does that make sense? If not, you had better vote November 8.

Here’s my opinion: Expecting this country to prosper without fossil fuels is fantasy.

I also respect the decision of anyone who decides to get ‘off the grid,’ commute by bicycle, and grow their own food. However, I don’t appreciate anyone trying to force me to do the same.

To bring back a phrase from the 1930s, “Now we’re cooking with gas.” (Young folks may not know it also has a figurative meaning: doing something really well, achieving something important.)

Something the U.S. does really well is produce oil and gas. Thanks to a recent invention called horizontal drilling, the efficiency and cost of getting crude oil and natural gas from deep in the ground improved dramatically.

Let me focus on oil. In the first half of 2022, the U.S. produced 11.6 million barrels per day (b/d). We use more than that, so more oil had to be imported. The price of gasoline jumped to over $5/gallon. In an attempt to lower the price, President Biden decided to draw 1.0 million b/d from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (That’s a massive storage of crude oil in old salt mines under Texas and Louisiana that was created in the late 1970s for emergencies, like a war.) A couple of weeks ago Saudi Arabia and other OPEC producers decided to cut their output by 2.0 million b/d to raise the worldwide price. Of course, President Biden objected. So, the President ordered even more oil to be pumped from the Reserve, at least until after the election.

You may be wondering, “Why can’t we produce more than 11.6 million b/d ourselves?” We can, and we did! Oil production in the US increased from 9.2 million b/d in March 2017 to 13 million b/d in March 2020, making us a net exporter of oil. Of course, Covid knocked it way down. Considering how rapidly oil production increased in those 3 years, we could easily eliminate oil imports and lower the price of gasoline and diesel if our elected officials got out of the way.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“Our children are delivered to the schools in automobiles. But whether that adds to their grades is doubtful… It’s also a question, what we can convert these 4 billion filling stations into in years to come [when the oil runs out].” Saturday Evening Post, June 2, 1928

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