Thursday, February 10, 2011

Horizontal Fracking Isn't the Answer

"New drilling method opens vast oilfields in US"
Bully for Exxon. Hurrah for Chevron. Three cheers for BP. Renewed cries of "Drill baby, drill!" Horizontal fracking certainly has tangible benefits for large, multinational corporations. What's in it for me?

Freedom from despotic regimes? Don't think so. Last time I looked, I don't buy crude oil -- I buy gasoline (at least, I used to). The gasoline I buy is produced by an independent refiner (Tesoro, in my case). Tesoro buys crude oil from the lowest-cost source at the time they need the next tankerful. Louisiana? North Dakota? Venezuela? Oil is a global commodity. The gasoline in my car may have been refined from foreign oil or domestic. In fact, unless you live in a country where the mineral resources are owned by the state, there is no such thing as domestic oil.

Energy independence? Nope. In the United States, mineral resources are not owned by the government, they are owned by the corporations that extract them. After buying a lease and paying royalties, the multinational owns the oil free and clear. They can sell it here, or they can ship it overseas. Or did you miss the fact that the Macondo well was operated by British Petroleum?

Lower gasoline prices? Sorry, bub. Repeat after me: oil is a global commodity. If we aren't willing to pay top dollar for it, there's someone else who is. To quote from the article referenced above:

US shale oil, on the other hand, will only supply one to two percent of world consumption by 2015, not nearly enough to affect prices.

What are we to do? Are we doomed forever to be at the mercy of tyrannical dictators in foreign lands or corporate boardrooms? I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Conservation.

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