Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Exclusive: Neither Obama nor McCain nor the Government Has a Plan in the Event of a Protracted Oil Stoppage - It Isn't Even Being Discussed is an article that introduces a book just published by the author Edwin Black (via Dialog Press) - The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops—or the Day Before. There is also an associated web site, www.planforoilcrisis.com

OK this is an important topic and it is entirely possible that this is a great book, but this blogger isn't enticed into reading it by the breathless prose of the article, e.g. "... It is like seeing a hurricane developing without a disaster plan or evacuation route. Our allies have oil shortage interruption contingency plans, but America does not..."

Incredibly the article then goes on to say: "... The crude realities: America uses approximately 20 million barrels of oil per day, almost 70 percent of which is imported. If we lose just 1 million barrels per day, or suffer the type of damage sustained from Katrina, the government will open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which offers a mere 6 to 8 week supply of unrefined crude oil. If we lose 1.5 million barrels per day, or approximately 7.5 percent, we will ask our allies in the 28-member International Energy Agency to open their SPRs and otherwise assist. If we lose 2 million barrels per day, or ten percent, government crisis monitors say the chaos will be so catastrophic they cannot even model it..."

Hmm, as of today the Strategic Petroleum Reserve currently has 702.6 million barrels, so in the above scenario if we lose "1 million barrels per day" the SPR could close the gap for crude for almost two years (assuming that all the oil can be pumped out of the underground salt domes in Bryan Mound, Bayou Choctaw, Big Hill, and West Hackberry), and not "a mere 6 to 8" weeks. The 6-8 weeks figure is to replace 100% of US import volumes! Add to this that commercial stockpiles of crude in the U.S. are at least as big.

OK, so it's true that there are no stockpiles of refined products e.g. gasoline, jet fuel, etc. (as there are in some other countries). It is also true that the SPR's maximum drawdown is 4.4 million barrels per day and that crude from the reserve would normally only come on line thirteen days after a Presidential order (though it was done faster after Katrina). It is also true that if U.S. refinery capacity was greatly degraded that we would not be able to refine the crude in the SPR, etc. However, the article's gross error highlighted above, plus its suggestion that a 7.5% cut would make the U.S. dependent on its allies (way off the mark) certainly does not motivate this blogger to run out and purchase the book!