To the editor:
This is in response to a previous letter suggesting that we demand Congress repeal the ban on offshore oil drilling. I am about as mad about the high price of gas as the next guy, but before you make up your mind on this issue, I would encourage you to consider a few facts.
At maximum production, the offshore oil fields on our West and East coasts are estimated to be able to produce about one million barrels a day, or roughly 5 percent of our current need.
However, reaching full production capacity will take at least 10 years and probably longer. And even then, offshore oil will not reduce our dependence on foreign oil by much. In addition, the costs of obtaining oil from the ocean are enormous. The deep sea rigs are leased by the oil companies to the tune of $600,000 to $1 million a day. Producing oil from other marginal sources such as the arctic, oil shale and oil sands in Canada also will not appreciably reduce gasoline prices because of the high costs of production.
The current high price of oil is not because of lack of supply, but because of futures trading in the oil market. Major users of oil commodities are hedging because they fear we are approaching "peak oil," or the point at which world oil production peaks. Once the curve for global oil production peaks, begins to decline and is intersected by demand, we'll be wishing for gas at any price.
If you want to pay less at Kum and Go anytime soon, I would suggest telling Congress to put controls on the rampant speculation in oil futures and demand the president release the strategic oil reserve like presidents Bill Clinton and Bush the first did. We also need to demand that our government formulate a workable, long-term energy policy that incorporates investing in "free" energy, renewables and research in new technology.
If we don't get a handle on our energy situation and stop thinking the black, greasy stuff is the only solution, our children and grandchildren are going to have a lot more to worry about than high gas prices.