Sunday, July 20, 2008

ANWR and Not Drilling vs Hybrids and Slowing Down

There has been a lot of talk lately about removing the ban on drilling the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve, ANWR.

Here is an excerpt from an article today from

"No one really knows how much oil the coastal plain might contain - no one has ever actually drilled there.

But based on the region's geological features, and it's proximity to the oil rich Prudhoe Bay region, the government's Energy Information Agency said drilling in the reserve might eventually yield, in nearly 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day." is not an oil industry source, but they are quoting the EIA so that is ok in my book.

Now, let's analyze this. We will assume the facts as stated, without demanding proof. After all, it is all guesswork as to how much oil, if any, is there. But, for the sake of argument, I will go with their 800,000 barrels per day of oil.

Compared to our current use of oil at about 15.5 million barrels per day, that represents about 5 percent. That is supposed to be enough to bring down the price of oil by about $30 per barrel. I wonder how they arrived at that number?

So, let us compare this to my proposed means of reducing gasoline prices, that is, driving slower and driving hybrids, or preferably plug-in hybrids, that use CNG as fuel. By the way, I am doing my part. My commuter car, a 1998 Saturn SL2, gets 37 miles to the gallon, average city/highway. It is EPA rated at 27 mpg for city/highway. It is stock, with no modifications, and has 233,000 miles on it. It can be done. I got 30 mpg as of last December. I now drive slower, 60 miles per hour rather than 75, and turn off the engine at red lights. But, I digress.

We know that every two barrels of oil produces about one barrel of gasoline in the U.S. Therefore, those 800,000 barrels per day of ANWR oil would produce about 400,000 barrels per day of gasoline, again representing about 4.5 percent of gasoline demand as of July, 2008.

We have already seen a 2 percent decrease in gasoline demand in the U.S., just this summer and late spring, from either reducing speeds voluntarily, or possibly other driving habit changes. It could also be that the new hybrids hitting the road are doing the job.

It will not take very many more hybrid cars on the road to bring us to the full reduction of 4.5 percent that would be the equivalent of having those 800,000 barrels per day of ANWR oil.

And, we won't have to wait for Nancy Pelosi to get off her $ss and pass a bill. We also won't have to wait for the wells to be drilled, and the pipeline to be built to connect ANWR with the Alaska Pipeline (called TAPS). How many years will that take? I seem to remember that when Prudhoe Bay was drilled, it took a very long time to get the oil flowing. Maybe the oil companies are better at that, now, and won't take so long.

Then again, maybe we can get it done, and without waiting. Maybe we will help ourselves without government intervention, by driving smarter (slower), and buying hybrids. Or, converting existing cars to hybrids with those spiffy after-market hybrid conversion systems.

And, just watch those gasoline prices plummet when demand drops another few percent. It won't take oil companies and gasoline stations long to drop their prices when their sales drop noticeably.

Geeks and Engineers. Saviors of Society. (TM)

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