Saturday, June 25, 2011

Obama’s Strategic Release From the Strategic Oil Reserve Questioned

Campaigning for president, In August 2008 Barack Obama stated, “Our dangerous dependence on foreign oil has been 30 years in the making, and was caused by the failure of politicians in Washington to think long term about the future of the country,” continuing he added, “we will invest $150 billion over the next decade ... and leverage billions more in private capital to build a new energy economy that harnesses American energy and creates 5 million new American jobs.”

Although we have seen his “investments” since winning the office, we have not seen jobs or any relief from dependence on foreign oil. We have seen the LOSS of millions of jobs as one after another, his policies prove to be failures.

Criticizing high gas prices during the Bush administration, he and the Democrats continued to block efforts to recover more of our own oil resources and as gas prices began to jump upwards again during this presidency, efforts at blocking access to our own oil resources have continued with little if any permits given to access our own.

Obama, historically opposed to releasing oil from the Strategic Reserve switched gears as he did during the 2008 campaign and said in March 2011 that he was “considering” releasing oil from the Strategic Reserve as our gas prices again rose to unbearable levels for people continuing to struggle in this elongated recession.

Three months later as he sees his approval rating in the polls dropping fast, he announces he will now release oil from the Strategic Reserve, prompting several to question if the move isn’t more of a campaign tactic than actually caring about the American people.

The American Petroleum Institute, representing more than 470 oil and natural gas companies released a statement criticizing the release saying,
“The release makes little sense for American markets. Crude and gasoline inventories are above average, and crude and gasoline prices have been trending down for weeks, despite the loss of Libyan oil, which markets have already adjusted to. The SPR was intended to be used for supply emergencies. There is no supply emergency. We don’t know what impacts this might have on markets long term. But we could and should be taking steps that would increase our own production by 2 million barrels a day or more for decades, which is possible if the government would grant much greater access to America’s ample oil and natural gas reserves. This would do vastly more to help consumers, increase energy security, create jobs and deliver more revenue to our government. It’s action that would truly strengthen our energy future, not a temporary gesture that has no lasting benefits.”

“30 million barrels is about what our nation consumes in a day-and-a-half. 60 million barrels (the total IEA release) is well under what the world consumes in a day.”

API also challenged the release as a “short term energy strategy.”

Back in August 2008 candidate Obama criticized “the failure of politicians in Washington to think long term about the future of the country,” and by 2011 he is the one failing to actually think in the long term about the future of the country by continuing to advocate moving to unreliable, inefficient and extremely costly “green” energy sources before they are perfected and by denying the use of known billions of barrels of our own petroleum and efforts of fighting the readily available petroleum from our closest neighbor to the north. That is petroleum that could easily meet our energy needs and keep it affordable while those alternate sources are still be perfected so they too might one day be affordable.

Canada, our closest neighbor, our most reliable trading partner and the country we receive some 60% of our oil supply from, is extracting oil from oil sands in Alberta after the discovery of some 170 billion barrels of accessible oil there.

As can be expected, it isn’t without opposition. Some environmentalists are boasting of legal efforts to blocking shipments of massive equipment needed to extract to the oil from the sands HERE and HERE.

To bring the oil extracted from the Alberta oil sands, TransCanada is awaiting approval of a 1,600 mile pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. Since it crosses an International Border it must have State Department approval.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Subcommittee on Power and Energy are pushing for a decision by November 1 on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Again, as expected, foes to America actually achieving energy security make bogus claims like “If constructed, the pipeline, known as the Keystone XL, will carry one of the world’s dirtiest fuels: tar sands oil. Along its route from Alberta to Texas, this pipeline could devastate ecosystems and pollute water sources, and would jeopardize public health.”

I recently participated in a conference call where this very subject was brought up, transcript here. It was mentioned that oil products have been transferred by pipeline in Canada for over 50 years. It has been and will continue to be done safely. I asked specifically about “state of the art” measures that will be used in the pipeline.

API’s pipeline director replied,
“And when we’re talking about state-of-the-art methods, we’re talking about supervisory control and data acquisition systems where they have thousands of points along the pipeline that can monitor conditions, measure pressure drops, et cetera. That’s tied into leak detection systems. And you know, it’s already – that’s already been seen that these systems can catch changes in pressure at a very quick basis. And that’ll be a feature of these new – the new pipeline.”

“And in addition to that, it’s all the other technologies that go into modern-day pipelines. And that includes corrosion protection systems that will be put in place, as well, as part of the normal construction that happens with modern-day pipes.”

API’s refining manager added,
“One of the things that was considered in the application, and TransCanada is going to comply with, is an additional 57 special conditions that go above and beyond the regulations that would be required by the Department of Transportation in this permit for this pipeline.”

It is also erroneously claimed the oil sands are recovered by “strip-mining that is eating into Alberta's boreal forest.”

In actuality, as was explained in the call,
“the vast majority of oil sands oil will be collected through the SAGD process soon, which pumps steam below ground to heat the sands and coax the oil to flow up the wellbore to the surface. This method of extracting the oil results in significantly less surface disruption and a much smaller footprint. In fact, gravel is placed on the surface to protect the underlying soil under all structures, including the modular sleeping and eating quarters. And after the oil has been extracted, the structures are removed, the gravel is reclaimed and used elsewhere, and the ground is replanted with natural grasses and other plants – the same vegetation that was there before drilling began.”

Where mining of surface sands was performed, the lands have been restored and reclaimed, as shown in the video HERE. The SAGD, or Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage process is illustrated in the video HERE.

Additionally, we have known deposits of petroleum sitting idle within our own borders that remain off-limits to extraction by oil companies that supply our energy needs and the many other needs we use petroleum for.

Obama issuing the release of what amounts of a couple days worth of petroleum from our Strategic Reserve now while his administration continues blocking development of our own resources carries all the appearances of a political ploy, a tactic to help with sagging poll numbers as he gears up to run for reelection.

Petroleum remains our most economical and efficient source of energy. Future energy needs are being developed and perfected, but currently have shown to be inefficient, overly costly and unreliable as Britain found out some 3,000 wind mills failed to produce the needed electricity when needed the most during a recent severe cold spell.

Barack Obama and his administration are failing the American people.

We need reliable and economical energy sources, as well as the massive numbers of jobs recovering our own resources will produce, not campaign stunts and grandstanding for improving poll numbers.

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