The Case For Drilling
I saw a political cartoon today about oil drilling that really made me think, and thought I’d share my thoughts here.
Reasonable people can disagree on many of the issues related to oil drilling, first and foremost being adding additional supply to bring down the cost, followed closely by the environmental impact of drilling. The one argument I’ve heard that completely defies logic goes more or less like this, “It won’t do us any good anyways, it’ll take 10 years for any new drilling to result in any additional supply”. What’s most shocking about this statement is that people nod their heads and agree! The notion that we shouldn’t do something today because it doesn’t provide an immediate benefit is a completely vapid argument, and I wish people would start challenging the assertion.
Let me ask you the same basic question about other topics:
Why invest your money? It won’t provide you any benefits until you retire, so why do it?
Why send your child to school? It’ll take around 16 years for your child to earn her college degree, so why do it?
Why plant a tree? It’ll be years before it grows big enough to provide any shade, so why do it?
I strongly dispute the assertion that it will take a decade to bring new supply online. Maybe I’m one of the only ones who watched the show, but I watched Black Gold on TruTV, primarily because I wanted to learn about the mechanics of oil drillling. I saw 3 drilling rigs drill 7 holes in 50 days, and every single one of them struck oil. Are we to believe that it takes another 9 years to pump the oil out and refine it? Poppycock. I’m not suggesting we should change public policy based on a TV show, but I am suggesting that the 10 year figure that gets thrown around is excessive.
Even if 10 years was an accurate number, that’s an even greater reason to start drilling NOW. If it were to take 10 years, that means we’d have 10 more years of uncertainty about our energy future. What do you think the gas prices will be in 10 years if we do nothing? $7 per gallon? $8? $9? That may seem crazy, but it’s not all that far off the mark if history is a guide.
In inflation adjusted dollars, a gallon of regular in 1998 went for $1.50, give or take a dime. Today, we’re sitting at $3.50, give or take a dime. That’s a 133% increase. Yow.
Since I’m on the topic of historical context, isn’t it apparent to anyone else that we’re witnessing the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world? What will the impact of this be in the decades to come? I like to think that maybe this is one small part of a grand strategy to get everyone else to exhaust their reserves, leaving us as the only game in town with oil reserves to tap, but I highly doubt it. If so, bra-VO to the mastermind pulling the strings behind the curtains.
In the end, the argument for investing your money, educating your child, planting a tree, and exploring for more energy sources (including but not limited to oil & gas) are all worthwhile endeavors. They are also propositions that take time and therefore should be started as soon as is practical to ensure we have enough money, education, shade, and energy when we really need it.