The furor surrounding Barack Obama’s contention that “we could save all the oil they’re talkin’ about gettin’ off drilling if everybody was just inflating their tires” has died down. The manner in which it died, however, was not in the ridicule it so richly deserved, but as a debate the MSM portrayed in Obama’s favor. Thus, you may well run into people who will claim that Time magazine, for example, showed that Obama had a point.
In Time‘s August 4th issue, Michael Grunwald mounted this defense of Obama:
…who’s really out of touch? The Bush Administration estimates that expanded offshore drilling could increase oil production by 200,000 bbl. per day by 2030. We use about 20 million bbl. per day, so that would meet about 1% of our demand two decades from now. Meanwhile, efficiency experts say that keeping tires inflated can improve gas mileage 3%, and regular maintenance can add another 4%. Many drivers already follow their advice, but if everyone did, we could immediately reduce demand several percentage points. In other words: Obama is right.
Grunwald also mentioned those “those twisty carbon fluorescent lightbulbs.” Actually, they’re called compact fluorescent lightbulbs, there’s no carbon involved. This is a minor gaffe, but it appears in a supposedly definitive article on energy policy. Grunwald and his editors seem to have carbon on the brain, possibly from listening to too many ALGore speeches. It seemed right to them. Just as did the idea that opening the Outer Continental Shelf off California alone – where exploration has already revealed 10 billion barrels of oil in shallow water – not counting ANWR or the Alaskan Continental Shelf, would produce only 200,000 barrels a day by 2030. That doesn’t even pass a first order reasonability check.
In any case, here are some facts about that “Bush Administration report” Grunwald cited:
…some have pointed [to, sic] an Energy Information Administration (EIA) report that estimated the amount of oil we could produce on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) if the drilling ban were lifted. EIA estimated this to be approximately 200,000 barrels per day.1
Unfortunately, this figure – and the data it was based on – is fatally flawed. For example:
* 200,000 barrels per day is roughly equal to the daily production rate of just one new offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The Thunder Horse oil production facility, which will be on line this year, is designed to produce 250,000 barrels per day.2 The Atlantis oil platform currently producing in the Gulf of Mexico has a production capacity of 200,000 barrels per day.3
Despite these facts, the EIA projects that lifting the bans that prevent production on 85 percent of the OCS acreage surrounding the lower 48 states will yield an amount equal to that which can be produced from just one of these platforms. Obviously, the projections are flawed.
Don’t hold your breath for a correction from Time, they’ve left exactly the impression they wanted to. You, however, can correct those people who buy into it. You could even ask your congresscritter to ask Nancy Pelosi to allow a vote on opening the OCS to drilling.
There’s more of interest in the article, including busting the myth that any new OCS oil is 10 years away, so RTWT.