Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Analysis of Yet Another "Hit Piece"

A friend sent me a popular email forward that was really a "hit piece" about the President. There were many editorial comments from each forwarder (deleted here), but the "meat" was the link to a "DC beltway" blogsite.

Remember, there is nothing non-political from that area. All who work there have a hidden political agenda. Here is the link to the original article that sparked the forward:

This article basically makes a complaint that we are financing Brazilian offshore oil exploration with American monies. The article's slant is that our President would rather invest with foreigners than in his own country. The article does mention US offshore oil discoveries in the Gulf and both coasts. I am very surprised that it did not mention the Wyoming oil shales and the Alberta tar sands. Most of these pieces do mention them, usually in a way that implies they are ready to yield "easy oil".

My Analysis:

This stuff is true enough, as stated, but is quite misleading because of what it implies, and what it leaves out. Its conclusion is wrong, and all the more glaring because it is so transparently pre-ordained. The subtitle and second sentence tip that hand.

Implied: The article probably overstates the size of remaining US offshore and arctic reserves, and probably overstates the size of the new Brazilian offshore discovery relative to actual oil usage. None of these are large enough to eliminate US dependence upon middle eastern oil, even if we had all of them right now.

The truth: According to the refereed professional publication journal "Science", US oil production is now half what it was during its 1970 peak, and the trend has been steeply downward for the last 20 years. The sum of all known and projected remaining US reserves of drillable oil is far less than that shortfall. If Americans want to use oil, much of it must be foreign imports. There is no way to avoid that inconvenient fact.

Left Out: There are tremendous "local" petroleum deposits, in the Wyoming oil shales and the Alberta tar sands. These are said to be the equivalent of the largest finds in history, those being the giant oil fields under the middle east, and under the US Gulf Coast states. Unfortunately, the middle eastern fields are now in peak production, with depletion expected in less than 30 years, while the Gulf Coast states deposits are now already essentially depleted.

The (bitter) truth: But, oil shales and tar sands are not drillable oil. These are thick tar-like "petroleum" spread very thinly inside the pores of vast volumes of relatively impermeable rock. Oil shales and tar sands must be mined, not drilled, by very dirty strip-mining methods, on a scale far exceeding the whole-mountaintop-removal methods we now use for coal. Then that rock has to be broken-up, transported, crushed, ground, and thoroughly cooked to release the heavy tar. Then and only then may actual refining even begin, and being tar, lots of energy-intensive "cracking" is required. Think $4/gal was bad? This stuff will range between $40 and $400 /gal.

My conclusions:

Recent perhaps-stupid court decisions about what is leasible aside, anything that can get us oil from a friendly country, and one not part of OPEC, is a good deal in my book. Brazil has long been a good friend, and may well charge us a decent price. Not being part of OPEC means the oil money we pay them does not filter through the middle eastern countries to their favorite "charities": the very terrorists that we fight!

Far from being a reason to slam Mr. Obama, this Brazilian deal thing is actually a reason to praise him!

The misleading slant of the article reveals its true purpose as a political "hit piece". There's way too much of this stuff forwarding around out there, and way too many people (smart enough to know better) are falling for it.

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