Friday, September 5, 2008

New Oil

Sen Obama pointed the other day that drilling for oil in new places is neither a short-term solution nor a long-term solution. I think that's a pretty good point and I wonder how I hadn't thought of it in those terms before.

I'm not saying which candidate I prefer. I'm just saying that drilling for oil in new places takes a while. New sites take time to develop - sometimes, a lot of time. And the long-term answer to our energy needs clearly has nothing to do with petroleum. So, can anyone tell me why we should drill for new oil anywhere? Maybe it's a mid-term solution, that will benefit us for a little while 5+ years from now?

Personally, I'd rather see that money, time and intellectual capital invested in a more permanent, more eco-friendly solution.


mandy said...

Good point. I agree. Unfortunately that is not what American voters are concerned about right now. Sigh. "We" want to hear that gas prices will come down, and that's exactly what we're hearing. So, we'll drill 'now' to get that economy straightened out and worry about tomorrow some other day.

Dick Field said...

Drilling now does not imply that the platform or rig can be set up overnight and that the oil extracted will go straight to the refinery, thence to the corner gas station and into out tank. However, the initiation of the effort will tend to de-stress the international market, give the speculators something to think about, a contribute to holding the line on prices or even reduce them (similar to the fact that Gulf platforms escaping the bullet allowed the slight trend downward to continue, when it could have easily gone the other way).

I am also a big supporter of alternative energies, having previously worked for the Solar Energy Research Institute (now NREL) and a coal liquefaction project under the former Gulf Oil in the 70s and early 80s. I have always believed alternative energy should be made part of the Defense budget - as it really is (should be) a major contributor to national defense. Unfortunately, support of alternative energy has always been sensitive to the price of oil and has been put on the back burner when oil becomes cheap. Wrong. It must be a long-term commitment to maintain continuity and achieve success. If it can be done for space, it certainly should be for energy.

I think T. Boone has it right: drill now, convert to natural gas, work wind, and bring other alternatives on line - in that order but overlapping.

Mark said...

Dick has a great point regarding oild prices and speculation. The stroke of a pen authorizing more drilling would in fact bring down prices *today* in the same way the threat of a conflict in some far-off land (or talks of a cease-fire) or a weather forecast drives prices at the pumps up or down long before supply is actually affected.
I'm not endorsing such speculation, merely observing it.

So drilling now is sort of a short term solution.

But also, it is a medium term solution (we will still need lots of oil in the future, regardless of any breakthroughs in alternatives in say the next 10-15 years). So why delay drilling more now?

Mark said...

ps - I'm glad that at the moment, this topic has more comments than the post about Chrome. I was worried that our national priorities were getting out of line... :)

The Dan Ward said...

True - the "second-order" effect of approving more drill sites would indeed have an impact on prices, by creating the appearance of having more oil (someday).

However, I'm not sure that's sufficient to move it into my own personal "good idea" column.

It is indeed too bad that most consumers only get interested in sustainable energy development (i.e. solar, wind, etc) when gas prices go up, as if saving money in the short term is the only reason to pursue these alternatives.

Yes, they have the potential to cost less than oil, in dollars/watt, but they also cost much less in terms of damage/planet.

Gabe said...

I agree. Drilling now just delays the inevitable. Someday, someone's going to have to face what we're facing now. We're facing it now so why not us? Why shouldn't we try to do something now?