I've been going back and forth with another blogger in reference to opening more federal land to drilling and what impact it would have on gas prices and in helping secure a future free of foreign energy dependence. I showed how oil production is at 8 year highs, that natural gas production is at record levels and that the US has exported more coal in 2011 then any other time in history. But, of course, I get the "open more land/ocean for more production."
Then I came across this article in Forbes:
"Would you believe that on this very date, just one, short year ago, the oil companies were not using one-half of the public lands they had already leased from the government for exploration and drilling? We made the public land available to the oil companies, they took the leases but left almost half of them just sitting there—unexplored, undeveloped and certainly not pumping any oil. Why would they do this?
Because the price of oil —one year ago— didn’t make it worth the oil companies’ time and money to produce the oil that rested at these locations.
The information provided in a report from the Department of Energy indicates that the Department offered substantial acreage for potential oil and gas development in 2009 and 2010 that was not subsequently leased by bidding parties. In addition, for areas that are under lease, there are tens of millions of acres currently idle – that is, not undergoing exploration, development, or production."
This, more than anything I’ve seen presented to date, would appear to give the lie to the narrative that if you make more public land available to the oil companies, they will explore it, develop it and drill it—and that this will, somehow, lower the price of gasoline at the pump.
Here's the Forbes article.
Annual totals in US oil, in barrels produced, going back to 2003:
- 2003: 2,073,453,000
- 2004: 1,983,302,000
- 2005: 1,890,106,000
- 2006: 1,862,259,000
- 2007: 1,848,450,000
- 2008: 1,811,817,000
- 2009: 1,956,596,000
- 2010: 1,998,137,000
- 2011: 2,055,646,000
Natural Gas: Last year was another record-setter for the world's largest natural gas producer, as the U.S. produced all-time record amounts. According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global consulting firm predicts that abundant, cheap gas will spark a U.S. manufacturing renaissance over the next several years, with the potential to create a million new jobs by 2025 and reduce annual energy costs for American manufacturers by almost $12 billion over the next decade.
Oh, and coal? The United States exported 107 million short tons of coal last year, up 31 percent from 2010 and the most since 1991, according to EIA. U.S. exports of steam coal, used mainly to fuel power plants, were an estimated 37 million short tons in 2011—the highest since 2008. Metallurgical coal exports reached record levels of roughly 70 million short tons.
Of course, none of these facts will make a difference to the folks who keep complaining that we aren't doing enough for domestic energy production.