19 May 2004

Is Oil Today's Helen of Troy?

The picture you see is the Discoverer Enterprise. It is a massive multi-purpose vessel that is the first ultradeepwater drillship with dual activity drilling technology capable of working in the deepest waters being explored for oil in the world today. A fascinating fact about this vessel is its ability to drill a well 35,000 feet below sea level, or more than 6.5 miles from the drill floor.

Oil giant BP has one Enterprise stationed and drilling wells over a spot 120 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico. This Enterprise is driving a well toward an estimated 1 billion barrels of oil below the seafloor, the biggest oil field discovered in United States territory in three decades, according to the June 2004 issue of the National Geographic.

The recent issue of National Geographic sounds off an alarm that the world has now reached, or is closely reaching what is termed as "the twilight of plentiful oil.". What does that mean?
The insightful article explains:
"There's no global shortage (of oil) yet; far from it. The world can still produce so much crude that the current price of about $30 (I think it has gone up to $40) for a 42-gallon barrel would plummet if the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) did not limit production. This abundance of oil means, for now, that oil is cheap. While oil demand is up everywhere, the U.S. remains the king of consumers, slurping up a quarter of the world's oil --- about 3gallons a person every day --- even though it has just 5% of the population. Yet as the Enterprise drillers know, slaking the world's oil thirst is harder than it used to be. The old sources can't be counted on anymore. On land the lower 48 states of the U.S. are tapped out, producing less than half the oil they did at their peak in 1970. Production from the North Slope of Alaska and the North Sea of Europe, burgeoning oil regions 20 years ago, is in decline. Unrest in Venezuela and Nigeria threatens the flow of oil. The Middle East remains the mother lode of crude, but war and instability underscore the perils of depending on that region. And so oil companies are searching for new supplies and braving high costs, both human and economic."

As Sassy today laments on the story of a former US Marine soldier in Iraq, this news of an impending world shortage of oil is enlightening. Maybe this is the present day Helen of Troy (have you seen the movie yet?). Bush went to war in Iraq because he wanted to (allegedly) halt Iraq from spreading terrorism around the globe by confiscating Saddam's weapons of mass destruction (WMD). What WMDs? Has there been any significant WMD finds since the war began? After having caught Saddam and nearly 1000 US soldiers killed, the US still remains in Iraq. Why?

Bush and the Americans are very wise people. They know that when the coming world oil shortage comes, he who owns the most oil will be KING. The Bush administration, is keen to pounce on Iraq's massive untapped reserves, the second biggest in the world after Saudi Arabia's. Washington's predatory interest in Iraqi oil is clear, whatever its political protestations about its motives for war. The US consumes 20M barrels of crude a day, and analysts have singled out the country that could meet up to half that requirement: Iraq.

The current high price of oil is dragging the US economy further into recession. US control of the Iraqi reserves, perhaps the biggest unmapped reservoir in the world, would break Saudi Arabia's hold on the oil-pricing cartel Opec, and dictate prices for the next century.

I am appalled by the greed and amazed by the forthsight of the Americans. It seeks more oil and more oil in spite of its stategic reserves. Do you know it has strategic oil reserves of about 648 million barrels of oil? Oh yes! Check it out here. US defenders say that "when you are the world's largest consumer of oil and import more than half of it, it's good to have a back-up plan."

Back-up plan with regards to a possible world oil shortage? I say, they have lots and lots of back-up plans. Geeez, I've been thinking maybe that's why they are also sooo eager to explore Mars. What do you think?

It is quite ironic that it was also an American who said that "The first casualty when war comes is truth." A staunchly isolationist Republican politician from California who served in the United States Senate for nearly 30 years, US Senator Hiram Warren Johnson is purported to have said the adage in 1918.

Nobody wants to discuss the truth when one goes to war.

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