The media constantly repeat the claim that it would take a decade to get the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) into oil production and about as long for offshore continental oil to start flowing. Most accounts promote the views of extreme environmentalists to make the issue appear so hopeless that we must instead "change our way of life" rather than tap into proven oil reserves. In July, CNN repeatedly reported that offshore drilling would take "seven to 10 years" to get into production. Yet Brazil's Petrobras expects its new finds in extraordinarily deep waters to already be producing 100,000 barrels per day in just two years. What is wrong with American oil companies that they would take so long?
In fact, the world oil shortage is political, not geological. In the U.S., the government prohibits drilling offshore. In Nigeria, civil strife has shut down major production. In Libya and Iran, Washington effectively blockaded and isolated the nations for years to inhibit new production. In Iraq, of course, the U.S. destroyed much of the infrastructure since the first Gulf war in 1991 and then blockaded reconstruction. In nations such as Russia and Mexico nationalism and corruption curtail increased production.
Outside of developed Western countries, the single largest reason for oil "shortages" is government incompetence and ownership of the subsoil rights so that landowners don't benefit from oil discoveries.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Jon Basil Utley makes "The case for drilling" in Reason magazine: