Guest Commentary –
Note: The following commentary was written by The Crusty Conservative’s grandson – Mike Lee. Mike is a Production Supervisor for a major oil exploration company in Ventura County, California. He wrote the following commentary out of frustration over Obama’s current energy policies.
The Keystone XL Pipeline from an Oilfield Perspective
It takes a lot to get me to write my opinions down but listening to the political rhetoric involving the Keystone XL pipeline and following the writings of my grandfather (aka The Crusty Conservative) I have finally gotten to that point.
Over the last few days I have read a handful of articles where President Obama has tipped his hand to show us how he really feels about my industry and how little he actually knows about economics. As a twenty-eight year old oilfield worker, I have become frustrated with the fact that not only must I support the previous generation through Social Security which I am unlikely to see, and through high taxes which pay pensions to groups that are living more comfortably than I should expect to in retirement. And now I must also protect the future generations by not tapping into natural resources that are readily available.
When I entered the industry in 2005 oil prices were just below forty dollars a barrel and to say the least oil was not a very lucrative business. Sometime shortly after that prices spiked to as high as $150 a barrel and American oil was reborn. It was now profitable to invest in enhanced recovery methods to get crude out of the ground. Along the way American dependence on foreign oil declined, however we continue to import from foreign countries.
Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Qatar, Libya, the U.A.E, Algeria, Nigeria, Ecuador, and Angola are the current members of the “Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries” (OPEC) and still have control over the global supply of oil which dictates price. The amount of money we, as Americans, have given to these mostly hostile countries (through oil purchases and/or foreign aid) is tremendous. The attention that it makes us pay to that region of the world is utterly absurd, all to protect our interests… in oil.
I read an article today that told of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia warning in a letter to the Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi and others that the U.S. boom of shale oil and gas will reduce our country’s thirst for Saudi crude oil. It continued to state that 92% of their budget is dependent on oil exports. During the fall of the Qaddafi regime in Libya, that country suffered massive economic setbacks largely due to the loss of oil output. Isn’t that a nice change? To see these countries worried that we won’t send one of our top resources (the American dollar) their way puts a smile on my face.
Meanwhile back in the states, as a result of horizontal drilling, water/steam/CO2 flooding, and implementation of newer technologies, California, Texas, Colorado, and especially North Dakota are seeing record breaking production numbers in fields long thought to be exhausted. To the north, our friendly neighbors in Canada have also been able to capitalize on a higher barrel price. What was long locked up in sand and too costly to process is now so profitable that they have an excess. Thus the Keystone XL pipeline was born to transport their excess oil from Canada to Texas for refining and ultimately our use. Unfortunately, around that same time that Keystone was proposed, we saw one of the worst oil spills in history right off of our Gulf Coast which to the general public was very discouraging. BP’s spill was a worst case scenario – exploratory drilling in a deep zone had never been done before. Their following failures to control and cap, with the potential cover ups and blame game caused the general public to lose a lot of faith in the wisdom of running a pipeline across one of the richest aquifers in our country, the Ogallala. After rerouting, multiple studies, and building in redundancy after redundancy designed to protect it, the Keystone was once again ready for the White House.
But no, Obama refuses. During a time when a war is being raged on coal, Fukushima fear is shutting down nuclear power, and solar energy is being proven an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars over and over, our leadership is blocking what can be referred to quite literally, as a blessing from above. To tell the American public that this pipeline will only create fifty jobs is either a flat out lie or Obama really is the most inept and uninformed president since Jimmy Carter. The number is not simply how many people will manage the pipeline when it is completed, or even how many people will build the pipeline, but rather how many people will benefit from the pipeline – all of us. All of us use gasoline, plastic, or electricity in some shape or form, most specifically gasoline. Groceries today are more expensive because of freight costs. Many people have been forced to switch jobs because commuting has become uneconomical. Others have seen their companies fail or cut back to accommodate fuel costs. To alleviate the new normal at the pump through the Keystone XL pipeline would have exponential positive effects on our economy.
And what about global warming? First, prove it. This beautiful blue planet has been through many heating and cooling cycles since long before the industrial revolution. If you cannot measure and correlate global warming, then you should not set broad laws to restrict progress in the name of preserving the environment.
Finally, if we don’t use the Canadian oil you can rest assured that someone else will. Let’s give China one more advantage over us – right? Wrong. Barak Hussein Obama needs to stop courting special interests and provide for the American interest; and work towards our freedom from oppressive overseas countries while restoring our liberty to provide for our families.
Mike P. Lee
About the time that Mike was writing the above commentary, The Crusty Conservative and his wife Pat attended a talk at by Stephen Moore at “The Young Americans For Freedom’s” Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara. Mr. Moore who is an Editorial Board Member and Senior Economics Writer at The Wall Street Journal unknowingly endorsed Mike Lee’s
premises as outlined above and further predicted that the U.S. could be a net energy exporter in 10 years if the government allowed modern oil and gas extraction methods to be used and allowed the infrastructure (including the Keystone XL pipeline) necessary to extract, transport and refine these products to be built. To illustrate his point, he discussed the amount of natural gas being wasted simply for the lack of a means to transport it to market, Moore described flying over the Bakken area of North Dakota at night and seeing what from the air looked like a major population center. However, the lights that he saw were not from communities or buildings. Instead, they were oil drilling sites where natural gas (a by-product of the process by which oil is being extracted in North Dakota) was being flared into the atmosphere and burned instead of being utilized or placed in a pipeline and transported to customers because of the lack of pipelines. Moore stated that in this area alone millions of cubic feet of valuable natural gas were being burnt off daily because there are no pipelines to get it to market. Below is a picture of gas flaring and two pictures from a space satellite showing what Moore described.
he Crust Conservative
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The Crusty Conservative
“… individuals may injure a whole society, by not declaring their sentiments.
It is therefore not only their right, but their duty, to declare them.”
–John Dickinson, Letters of Fabius, 1788