The Wall Street Journal immediately trumpeted, “Exxon Unveils Big Finds in Gulf.” House Natural Resources Committee Chair Doc Hastings (R-WA), whose top industry contributor is Big Oil, dashed out a release saying the find is “a perfect example” of how “America can become less dependent on dangerous sources of foreign energy if we safely and responsibly develop the resources we know we have here at home.”
Setting aside that big ‘if’, while 700 million barrels is enough to ruin the Gulf if we get another blowout, it represents only 9 days of global oil consumption — and roughly one month’s worth of U.S. consumption.
The discovery doesn’t prove we have ‘abundant’ oil reserves, as Hastings claims. It proves the exact opposite, that ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ can’t solve our problems. Steve Greenlee, president of Exxon Mobil’s exploration business, unintentionally admitted that when he said, “This is one of the largest discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico in the last decade.”
There just isn’t enough oil in the Gulf to make a dent in our addiction. A 2009 report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Impact of Limitations on Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Federal Outer Continental Shelf” analyzed the difference between full offshore drilling and restriction to offshore drilling.
The EIA found that there is no impact on U.S. gasoline prices whatsoever in 2020. Gasoline prices would be a mere three cents a gallon lower in 2030. So much for Drill, Baby, Drill.
The fact is that that oil prices have been soaring in spite of the fact that U.S. domestic oil production has also been soaring, “to its highest level in almost a decade,” as EIA’s own data shows:
Other than the sensible moratorium on offshore drilling after the BP oil disaster, Obama obviously hasn’t held back U.S. drilling, no matter what Republicans say. And more permitting won’t help. The oil companies already have access to some 30 billion barrels of offshore oil they have barely begun to develop.
Ironically, back in February, the Wall Street J0urnal had the big picture right with its story, “Exxon Struggles To Find New Oil.” That important article noted, “the company said that for every 100 barrels it has pumped out of the earth over the past decade, it has replaced only 95.” Drilling isn’t the answer.
If you are concerned about the impact of high oil prices , the only viable long-term strategy is one aimed at ending our addiction to this climate-destroying fossil fuel. As the top economist at the International Energy Agency has said, “We have to leave oil before oil leaves us.”
The fact is that the only thing that can protect Americans from the inevitably increasing oil shocks of peak oil is an aggressive strategy to reduce the country’s oil consumption, including a steady increase the fuel efficiency of our vehicles. These are policies that President Obama has been pursuing — and that conservatives have fought for decades.