By Jim Spiri
July 10, 2008
It’s all about oil, at least that is what many would have us believe. I tend to usually take a different view on things when I’m not exactly sure what on earth to believe. Such is the case these days when I fill up my little pick-up truck and hand the cashier a $50 bill, and get no change. Let’s take a look and ponder a few choices before I need a $100 bill next week.
Four years ago while home on R & R from Iraq, I made a decision to purchase two vehicles that get over 30-miles per gallon each. It was costly, but turns out it was a wise decision. Glad I did it. My suggestion to everyone is that if you can do without a gas-guzzler, downsize as soon as possible. I do not think that gasoline is going to go down in price. On the contrary, I’m preparing for $7 a gallon gas, or higher. Just the way it looks to me that it is going. Adapting.
On the campaign trail lately, there has been lots of talk about drilling our way out of this so called oil shortage. Obama says no to off shore drilling, McCain says we need to consider more wells in the ocean. No one is talking much about ANWR, (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) up in Alaska, and quite frankly, I hope it stays that way. Here’s why.
Firstly, without inundating the readers with all kinds of graphs, charts, figures, calculations, etc., I choose to just speak (write) in terms most all of us can understand. I know that currently there are literally hundreds of wells drilled both on land in the US as well as in our territorial water boundaries that are not producing one drop of oil for all kinds of reasons which with a little research one can figure out the answer is money. Secondly, there is a real push in the US these days to cut back and tighten our belts which has for the most part resulted in if not a decrease in consumption, at the very least a stemming of the rate of increase in consumption. Simply put, demand is adjusting to supply, or at least it looks that way at the moment. Thirdly, just this week, T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oil and gas baron has made a real timely media blitz telling all of us that this time we cannot drill our way out of this problem. He has proposed a rather large investment into wind generation which for an oilman is a big step. I think he’s on to something. Improvising.
But let’s come back to Alaska and chat a bit about ANWR. I have noticed the oil companies are also doing a media blitz these days. If one looks deeper into the reasons behind the blitz, it is not hard to figure out that what they are saying is, “give us Alaska, we’ll give you all the alternatives you want and maybe a penny or two drop in gas prices at the pump. I for one don’t think I’m going to buy into that one right now. Maybe later, but not now.
I’ve been to Alaska several times in years past. I find the state by far the most beautiful and most intriguing of all 50-states, including my own home state of New Mexico, which I cherish. The first thing one notices all throughout Alaska is how untouched most all of it is. I have yet to go to the far north extremes of Alaska, but, I’ve been close. I do not think now is the time to disturb it and for good reason. I’m a realist. I know that eventually those J. R. Ewing types will get their hands on it. But if they were smart, they’d think about what I’m saying for a moment.
I’m for more off shore drilling in our territorial waters. I believe the technology has already proven itself and new ideas are forthcoming resulting in safe methods to increase our domestic production levels. We’re already in the ocean in a big way as far as oil wells go and increasing the number of wells would indeed help, as long as the owners decide to bring the oil they’ve hit up to the surface to the market place. The same can be done and should be done with the oil fields in the lower 48 states. Just in Colorado and Wyoming alone, the potential in the oil shale reserves are mind boggling. All that is needed is good old fashioned American ingenuity, like we had when we decided to land a man on the moon in 1969. We can do it. Overcome.
The reason keeping Alaska waiting in the wings with its reserves in ANWR is a good idea is strictly economic from my point of view. We are a nation that over the last few decades has watched its’ savings go down the tubes. Basically, the typical family has no savings for a rainy day. Holding the oil in Alaska in the “bank” so to speak, is the best leverage we can use on the global oil market. We don’t need it right now. What we need is to utilize what we have available to us such as the off shore potential that we can readily access much faster than anything ANWR would produce. It’s the conservative thing to do. It’s a smart move if you look at it through an economists eyes. We know it’s there, we know we can use it, but why spend it up when there are other, less expensive options out there that have already proven themselves?
If we do indeed go for more off shore drilling then at the same time we need to build several more refineries and update the ones currently in use. It is a well known fact that a great deal of the problem is refinery related rather than supply limitations which is what we are bombarded with daily by the PR firms assisting the big oil companies. One of these days Iraq is going to come on line in full throttle oil production allowing us to eventually leave the area for the most part, maybe. I say let the Kurds control Kirkuk and the supply of oil will flow. They are the wisest ones in the mix in the region. Let Iran make one false move and they won’t have the capacity to produce one ounce of oil. In the mean time, let the wells in the lower 48 pump to overflowing amounts. Open up more off shore sites. Let American ingenuity loose and watch what we can come up with. Listen to T.Boone Pickens on this one.
And by golly, let’s just leave Alaska alone for a rainy day. Treat it like a really good savings account. Let technology advance to a point where the environmentalists are happy and the methods for getting all that oil up there are perfected to such an extent that even the oil companies will be happy. It’s the smart economic thing to do. Don’t spend the reserves yet. The day will come fast enough. In the mean time, let the caribou run wild, let the wildlife flourish, leave the tundra alone. That oil ain’t goin anywhere. It’s been there for a long, long time. Who knows, maybe with all this global warming going on it will turn into an offshore site anyway and we’ll be more than prepared by then….!