July 16, 2008

If Supply is not a Factor, Why Should Oil Companies "Use It or Lose It"?

Monique Chartier

Those opposed to new domestic oil drilling attempt to deflect criticism of their stance by pointing to factors other than supply which may be contributing to the high and climbing price of gas and heating oil. Count all four members of Rhode Island's Congressional delegation in these ranks. In Sunday's Providence Journal, John Mulligan describes the pro-drilling feedback they have received from constituents. [Paragraphs quoted out of order.]

Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy said energy prices were easily the top concern among voters who greeted him during the Bristol parade. “It must have been 30 times along the two-mile route” that constituents raised the topic. “They are saying the most about that over any issue in the 15 years” he has been in the House, Kennedy said.

* * *

Sen. Jack Reed heard it on the Fourth of July parade routes and other members of the local congressional delegation have detected a similar message from Rhode Island constituents worried about the soaring price of gasoline and other oil products: “Drill. Drill. Drill.”

Senators Reed and Whitehouse and Congressmen Kennedy and Langevin have so far resisted the calls, pointing instead to other factors such as oil speculation and attempting to make the case that any new drilling would not affect retail prices for a very long time. Certainly speculation in oil futures and a weak dollar have had an upward influence on the price of oil, though the extent of the former is difficult to quantify.

Contradictorally, however, our Senators and Congressmen have indicated support for the so-called "use it or lose it" bill, legislation currently pending on Capitol Hill that would compel oil companies to promptly drill on the sixty eight million acres for which they currently hold exploration leases or hand the land back to Uncle Sam.

And here we reach the crux of the matter. Let's hold off for a moment consideration of some reasonable questions of the efficacy of forcing exploration on the sixty eight million acres where the location and existence of oil is problematic (unlike in Anwr and off US shores) and remain focused on the logic and thought process of our elected officials. If drilling will not solve the problem, if supply is not the issue, why do all four gentlemen support this legislation? In a related matter, do they support the call by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to tap US strategic oil reserves? If yes, why?

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My question is how much of the world does the oil companies need to be put aside for oil exploration? If the land was put aside and you have not used it, them you don’t need it!

If father put a ban on oil exploration in certain areas, father had a good reason to do it. So many times in business I have seen the son take over the business and run it into the ground because the son did not understand the father’s business practices or wisdom. California coast is still recovering from the oil rig spill disaster and RI coast is still recovering from the oil barge disaster.

Instead of complaining about drilling for more oil (it is estimated to take 10 years for new off-shore oil to reach the gasoline pumps) or demanding to tap into USA oil reserves (that got USA into the position it is now in), why not expend building the current reliable alternate energy sources that are now available and develop new future alternate energy resources. Oil supplies are not sustainable as more and more third world countries enter the global market.

What people have to understand, there will be no quick fixes to the national energy problem and oil prices. As long as there is continued speculation trading in oil futures, high use without regard to supply and no infrastructure modernization, USA will continue paying current high prices but not as high as other global nations. Low fuel prices are not a birthright of the USA.

The state of Hawaii is the most fossil fuel dependent state in the nation at 90% imported oil. Yet as a whole state, per Republican Governor Linda Lingal’s request, the state is moving towards 70% imported oil independence by 2030.

Hawaiian and Maui Electric Companies along with HR BioPetroleum Inc, Alexander & Baldwin and Royal Dutch Shell PLC will have a commercial algae-to-biodiesel fuel site in operation by 2011 with production capabilities of about 10,000 gallons per acre per year. In contrast, palm oil can produce 600 gallons per acre per year and soybeans (used on mainland) produce 48 gallons per acre per year. A test and proof of concept algae-to-biodiesel fuel farm has been operational on the Big Island of Hawaii at the National Energy Lavatories. Hawaiian and Maui Electric Companies power plants have been converted to operate on cleaner burning and cheaper biodiesel fuel which will pass on cost savings to Hawaii customers.

Ocean Power Technologies Inc., Pennington, NJ will be deploying one of it’s PowerBouys off Island of Oahu which converts ocean waves into electricity next month.

Governor Lingle signed into law a bill making Hawaii the first state in nation to require all homes constructed after 1 January 2010 be equipped with solar hot water heaters.

There are too many Hawaii alternate energy initiatives ongoing and in development to mention but the bottom line is talk and political posturing is cheap. As a state, Hawaii is not waiting for somebody in Washington, DC to make a decision that would have no impact for 5 to 10 years. Cost of living is too high in the islands mostly because of energy costs and the people can’t wait. We will lower that cost via alternate energy use faster than Washington, DC can tie its shoes!

As a whole state, the independent electric companies, state government and private industries are moving to complete the governor’s wish of 70% self-sustainable alternate energy independence from imported oil without having to entertain alternate nuclear power plants, oil exploration on set aside lands or ocean exploration.

Posted by: Ken at July 16, 2008 7:47 PM

Should we take all of the oil in ANWR and off the US shores NOW.
Or leave it for our children and grandkids ? ?

Posted by: Doug at July 16, 2008 8:23 PM

The beautiful scam is that the American oil companies don't WANT to drill for oil here.

Just imagine how much that oil is going to be worth when it's ALL that's left....

Why this state, sitting on the ocean like it is, isn't largely powered by wave and tidal energy generators boggles my mind.

Posted by: Greg at July 17, 2008 8:26 AM
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