THE NEW GREEN: Oil woes may soon vanish
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 00:10
The spike in gas prices this past summer caught many drivers by surprise, as it marked the highest cost-per-gallon in the past two years. Those of us who rely on cars to get around certainly were not happy with the extra toll on our wallets, but the constant flux in gas prices has become something expect. The prices this summer were high, but we can all remember two years ago, when the cost of a gallon also topped out at over $4. It is easy to assume that the erratic rise and fall of gas prices is simply the nature of the market.
An article in the New York Times last week was a surprising read for many American drivers. The article claimed that we are on the brink of an age of stable oil prices, and a lowering of oil prices in the near future. One energy scientist was quoted as saying that oil prices will stabilize at $100 a barrel (as compared to $145 a barrel this summer). The article admits that while “bumps” in prices may very likely occur again, overall the next several years should see very steady international oil prices because “the world now has sturdier shock absorbers than at any time over at least the last decade.” This is largely due to the global decrease in oil demand due to the worldwide economic recession, coupled with an increase in supply as oil production has expanded in Canada, the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia. The new fracking technologies in the United States have opened the door to enormous amounts of previously inaccessible oil fields, and this technology is poised to spread to other countries, “particularly in non-OPEC countries with large untapped shale fields like Mexico, Argentina, China, Australia and Russia.”
The article explained that the U.S. continues to consume 20 percent of the world’s oil supplies, but overall our consumption is decreasing. Our current use, 18 million barrels a day, is over 2 million barrels less than our peak consumption in 2005. Furthermore, as previously mentioned, the U.S. is undergoing a huge expansion in domestic production. Currently pumping out 7.6 million barrels a day, many forecasters agree that we will be producing nine million barrels a day by 2020, and some even say that the number will be closer to 12 million. New sources include drilling in Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Louisiana as well as off-shore drilling. These changes, according to a Reuters article published Oct. 11, have experts claiming that the U.S. will overtake Russia to become the world’s top oil producer in 2014. The article was issued just days after the U.S. purportedly lost its title as top oil importer, a designation that now belongs to China.
Many people are working hard to move our society away from oil consumption. Burning oil pollutes our air, earth and water, and the toll on our health and our environment is obvious. For now, however, oil is here to stay. We should continue to strive for alternative forms of energy, (and more importantly, find ways to optimize energy efficiency and reduce our consumption), but realistically we will all be depending on fossil fuels in major ways for years to come. It is important to stay informed so that our reform efforts remain realistic, informed and rooted in fact!