Thursday, November 26, 2009

Talking point: "The USA has plenty of oil"

Right-wing morons are quick to say that "we don't need Saudi oil, the U.S. has plenty of oil, but the environmentalists won't let oil companies drill for it!" As usual, the right-wing morons are pulling shit out of their ass. Reality is entirely different.

Now, first a disclaimer here. I helped develop some of the techniques for directional drilling that allowed re-drilling so many old oilfields and extracting the last of the oil there. I have talked to a lot of oil industry geologists over the years either as friends or professionally. And here's the deal: 95% of the oil that was here in the year 1900 is *gone*. Kaput, finished, burned. Every single inch of the U.S. continent and continental shelf have been thoroughly thumped and mapped, and 95% of that has been thoroughly exploited. The remaining 5% would be maybe 5 years of oil for the entire USA. Period. That's it. That's what the industry professionals who've actually gone out and *measured* this shit say. That five years of oil is a big heaping load of profit for the oil industry if they were allowed to exploit it and thus they whine mightily about "the environmentalists", but behind the scenes even their own experts don't believe the bullshit their PR people are putting out about how the mean environmentalists are keeping the U.S. dependent upon Middle Eastern oil.

Okay, so that's out of the way. Five years. But then what's this I hear? "There's vast amounts of oil shale in the central part of the USA!" Uh, yeah, there is. But the problem with exploiting that shale isn't environmentalists. The problem is that we simply don't have any economical or efficient way to get that shit out of the ground. Deal is that it isn't really oil, it's *tar*. It doesn't actually flow unless you heat it up with steam. What that means is that you have to make a *lot* of steam to liquify enough of it to make pumping it out of the ground worthwhile. And that takes a lot of heat. Creating that heat takes a lot of energy -- more energy than you'd get from the oil that you got out of the ground. That's okay in some cases -- you can consider it to be a way to convert a lot of solar or nuclear energy into a smaller amount of oil energy, for example, oil still being the most effective way to store energy for transportation while neither solar nor nuclear in their ordinary form are useful for transportation (without being stored in a battery or as oil, anyhow). But then the other component of steam is *water*. And there just isn't any water where the shale is -- that's the high plains. The *DRY* high plains. There's a few rivers that run through it that could be exploited for local exploitation of the shale, but the amount of steam needed would pretty much suck them dry. Somehow I suspect St. Louis would be a bit upset that they no longer have a Missouri River flowing past them... and we're still not talking about sufficiently exploitable oil to make it worth money.

But, you say, there are these companies claiming they're going to make oodles of money off of these oil shales if the environmentalists would just let them do it. Err, can you say "stock scam"? Because that's exactly what it is, a stock scam. These companies are trying to get suckers ... err, "investors" ... to dump money into these bogus "oil drilling schemes". These are the same kinds of scam artists who are trying to bilk evangelical Christians with tales of bogus oil in Israel.

In short, the people propagating the talking point that "the USA has plenty of oil but the environmentalists won't let us drill for it" are scam artists, pure and simple. They are committing fraud, telling lies in order to personally benefit themselves. So next time someone whines that talking point, you're talking either to a victim of one of the scammers who invariably will refuse to believe he was scammed -- or to one of the scammers himself. And which one can be easily told by seeing who benefits from the lie...

-- Badtux the Oil Penguin


  1. I can't recall anyone ever spinning that particular line at me. Nasty environmentalists preventing the construction of new refineries - sure - though even that has been a looong time ago.

    But we could be oil independent? The last couple years I was working, I had a lot of contact with oil companies, on their marketing side. Seriously, that is totally new to me. If course, I had people working for me who could see through their bull shit, so they wouldn't have tried a line that was patently stupid, or clearly wrong to somebody in the know.

    JzB the well lubricated trombonist

  2. True, there is still oil out there in much of this country. If you are willing to pay ten bucks a gallon for gas for it.

    Lots of natural gas also, lots more than oil I think. The four years I lived in the Uinta Basin of Utah there was more natural gas being pumped out of wells than there was oil.

    The raw gas even ran the engines that ran the pumps, mostly, had to add some lube to them.

    Big hit and miss one cylinder engines, would miss about every fifth firing cycle. Wasn't one on my sixty acres but was one right close to the property line. Far enough away that the noise didn't bother us.

    The oil there isn't much worth going for unless prices are up. But property there was damn cheap.

    The sixty acres with a home and garage and woodshed and chicken coop on it was only twenty grand.

    It was a good life up there, I should have stayed there, had a business that made us enough money to live there but Marie wasn't happy there so I moved us to Montana.

    She wasn't happy there either even though it was her idea to move there. I left her there when I moved here. Blah blah blah.

  3. I recently learned how to make Apple Brandy, I'm working my way toward making my own pickup fuel from pine needles, ha ha ha.

  4. And yet we still do nothing to curtail our use of oil. The shame belongs to US!

  5. Quite an interesting dissection of the games people play. I live above the Barnett Shale, which has become a major natural gas producing area. The directional drilling techniques are what make this area viable.

    Lots of folks around here are experiencing a phenomena I have called "mailbox money." They are sacrificing quality of life in exchange for a monthly royalty check. Sitting outside at night is no longer enjoyable, especially since they put in three compressors less than a half mile away. When all three are cranking I can hear it thru the walls.

    State and county government minions have fallen all over themselves catering to and pimping for the big outfits like Chesapeake and XTO Energy.

    The roads are being destroyed by the trucks and the landscape scared by the drillsites and pipeline easements. Quality of life isn't anymore.

    But I'll get my mailbox money too... some day. It isn't worth what I lost... but it will be what I get.

  6. A woman wasn't happy living with BBC! Who could imagine...


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