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PocketWatch On February - 23 - 2011


Since there is so much unrest in the Middle East and that is affecting the price of gasoline, it may be of use to those who are interested to have some actual facts about oil.  The following was researched during the BP disaster, and should still be relevant:
Petroleum Statistics

(2008 data except where noted)

Supply U.S. Petroleum Production (crude oil, NGPL, and other oils) – 6,734,000 barrels/day
U.S. Crude Oil Production – 4,950,000 barrels/day
U.S. Crude Oil Imports – 9,783,000 barrels/day
U.S. Petroleum Product Imports – 3,132,000 barrels/day
U.S. Net Petroleum Imports – 11,114,000 barrels/day

Dependence on Net Petroleum Imports – 57%

Top U.S. Crude Oil Supplier Canada – 1,956,000 barrels/day
Top U.S. Total Petroleum Supplier Canada – 2,493,000 barrels/day
U.S. Crude Oil Imports from OPEC – 5,954,000 barrels/day
U.S. Petroleum Product Imports from OPEC – 540,000 barrels/day
State Ranking of Crude Oil Production Texas – 1,087,000 barrels/day
Top U.S. Producing Companies – BP @ 654,000 barrels/day (2007)
Top U.S. Oil Fields by Production – Prudhoe Bay, AK (2007)
Top Oil Producing Countries & Exporters #1 – Saudi Arabia (10,782,000 barrels/day)
Top Oil Consuming Countries & Importers #1 – United States (19,498,000 barrels/day)
Consumption and Disposition U.S. Petroleum Consumption – 19,498,000 barrels/day
U.S. Motor Gasoline Consumption – 8,989,000 barrels/day (378 million gallons/day)
Share of U.S. Oil Consumption for Transportation – 71%
U.S. Total Petroleum Exports – 1,802,000 barrels/day

Refining and Reserves
Number of U.S. Operable Petroleum Refineries – 150
U.S. Refiners Ranked Capacity (1/1/2009) #1 – Baytown, Texas (ExxonMobil) 572,500 barrels/day
Top U.S. Petroleum Refining States #1 – Texas 4,689,179 barrels/day
U.S. Proved Reserves of Crude Oil as of December 31, 2007 – 21.317 million barrels
U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve – 702 million barrels (2008)
International Total World Oil Production – 85,472,000 barrels/day
Total World Petroleum Consumption – 85,534,000 barrels/day


Retail Gasoline Price in Selected Countries (2008) (regular unleaded, $/gallon)
Germany – $7.75
Japan – $5.74
Australia – $4.45
Canada – $4.08
United States – $3.27
China – $3.11
Mexico – $2.45


Gallons of Oil per Barrel – 42
Barrels of Oil per Metric Ton (U.S.) – 7.33


Analysis of above statistics:

(NOTE: It is widely reported that offshore drilling accounts for about 30% of US production, about 1.5MM bbls per day)

Domestic crude vs all imported crude – 4.95MM bbls / 9.783MM bbls = 50.6%
Canadian imported crude vs all imported crude – 1.956MM bbls / 9.783MM bbls = 20%
OPEC imported crude vs all imported crude – 5.954MM bbls / 9.783MM bbls = 61%

US Proved Reserves vs US consumption (per day) – 21.317MM bbls / 19.498MM bbls per day = 1.1 day
US Strategic Reserves vs US consumption (per day) – 702MM bbls / 19.498MM bbls per day = 36 days


So, what to make of this?

First, we have maybe a month of crude oil held in strategic and proven reserves.
Half of all the crude we consume is imported, and 61% of that is from OPEC.
15% of our crude consumption (about 3MM bbls per day) is from offshore drilling
29% of our consumption (5.65MM bbls per day) is used for non-transportation needs

I would make the case that if we converted even HALF of our consumption of crude oil to renewable sources of any kind, we eliminate all need for imports and offshore drilling.  Regardless of spills, leaks, drilling problems, air quality issues and all the other problems with oil, the fact remains that it will take years and maybe decades to transfer to sustainable and eco-friendly energy sources to replace what we are using right now.

Even if we started converting to, let’s say, a hydrogen-based system today, there is no infrastructure in place. Every gas station in the country would need to have a refueling unit or two. Every gas or diesel vehicle needs to go “offline.” And on and on.

And, just to add insult to injury, we spend billions on foreign oil (remember that the largest importer of oil to the US is CANADA), a lot of which goes to countries that don’t like us very much. Funding our enemies is not a good idea.

Bottom line, to get to where we need to go will take trillions of dollars and years to implement if we have the will, raise taxes to pay for it, and do it like another Manhattan Project.

Anything less is just nibbling at the margins.

Current market costs to the consumer of various forms of energy (in Kilowatt hours):

Coal  $0.06
NG  $0.06
Nuclear  $0.09
Wind  $0.10
Solar  $0.37
Crude  $0.78 (@ $70 / bbl)

It costs only $17.07 (20 year average) to PRODUCE a barrel of oil.  This apparently has little to do with the PRICE of a barrel of oil.

Draw your own conclusions. 

(This information took me a while to compile, but it’s out there.  I needed to do a little spreadsheet work to convert a barrel of oil to kwH‘s.)


–  I used kilowatt hours as a common denominator to make a point.  A better and more apt comparison would be to use ergs or joules, which are a more scientific and accurate way to measure the potential energy in different substances (For example, 1 kwH = 3.6 million joules; 1 erg = 10 to the minus 7 joules— have fun!).

–  70% of our oil use in this country is for “transportation,” i.e., gasoline and diesel.  However, our pump prices do not reflect all the hidden costs of using fossil fuels in this way.  The last link below shows that the real cost of gasoline is more on the order of $15 per gallon.


Written by PocketWatch

I am a small town boy from northern Wisconsin, who grew up in the quintessential American family. Dad was a carpenter, mom stayed home, two brothers and a sister. Our politics, and we were political, was always Democrat. My dad always said all you had to do was to look at what each side was fighting for, and it was easy to see, even as a kid, that Republicans were all about big money and rich businessmen, whereas the Democrats were more about social solutions. I spent 6 years in the US Army in the VietNam era as an electronic instructor for NSA, worked as a Field Engineer for a computer firm based in Massachusetts, spent another few years building paper mills around the world for a firm from Washington state, drove long haul truck for a while, did 10 years of servitude in NYC for a large multinational market research company as the Business Manager, spent some more time on the road as a Business Consultant, and the last bit as the Business Manager for a manufacturing firm here north of Houston. I am trying to start up my own consulting firm using all my experience to help small and medium sized businesses stay out of trouble versus waiting until they get into trouble. No one teaches people how to properly run a business. Business schools and MBA programs really don't. There are very basic nuts and bolts that are either assumed or are ignored, and like the house built on sand, businessmen and entrepreneurs ignore these solid foundations at their peril. (Now retired and doing some substitute teaching at a couple of small K-12 schools here in northern Wisconsin. Living in a small hamlet of 340 people, quiet, peaceful, serene.)

28 Responses so far.

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  1. Reincarnation_TPS says:

    This is an excellent post….!

    Love it……..

  2. Redemption Song II says:

    (…what’s “NG”?)

  3. Peabody II says:

    “Computer Field Engineer”!! Now there’s a title I don’t hear anymore. I was one, too. Started in the early 80’s. Now I’m just a “Professional Geek”.

    As for oil, I assume you are familiar with the “Peak Oil” theory, which was gaining some publicity just before the crash. The crash itself sent oil prices down — artificially, IMO. Now the ME crisis’ may artificially pump them higher. Both are masking the looming larger crisis of Peak Oil, and the urgency with which it must be dealt.

    What’s your opinion of the Peak Oil theory?

    For those who do know about this or understand the urgency — consider this: There are many experts who believe that children born as little as 30-40 years from now may never fly in an airplane, because the cost of fossil fuels will climb so high that commercial flight will all but vanish.

    …And that’s just the good news….

    • Reincarnation_TPS says:

      A great site for a discussion on Peak Oil is the Oil Drum……

    • PocketWatch says:

      Peabody --

      It only makes sense that sooner or later we will be on the wrong side of the oil supply curve.

      Here is a small rant I posted in another place and time:

      Fact 1: Burning hydrocarbons pollutes the land, sea and air either directly through spills, spews, sludge slides, or any number of other things, and indirectly through pollution (it’s called smoke).

      Fact 2: Oil is a finite resource. Some day it WILL run out.

      Fact 3: Nuclear power plants and technology create byproducts and problems that can take centuries to mitigate (think Chernobyl or Bikini Island).

      Fact 4: Burning ANYTHING for power creates the same problems as burning oil, gas or coal as we currently do.

      Fact 5: The sun produces more energy than we could possibly use. This includes wind and hydropower, which are created as secondary effects of sunshine.

      Fact 6: Every green plant on the planet is over 90% effective in turning sunshine into energy.

      Question: What the hell are we waiting for?

      We need to get to alternatives sooner or later, and the sooner we get to that, the cheaper it will be. Just creating different stuff to burn makes no sense to me.

      • Keramos says:

        From: http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=smaller-cheaper-faster-does-moores-2011-03-15

        The sun strikes every square meter of our planet with more than 1,360 watts of power. Half of that energy is absorbed by the atmosphere or reflected back into space. 700 watts of power, on average, reaches Earth’s surface. Summed across the half of the Earth that the sun is shining on, that is 89 petawatts of power. By comparison, all of human civilization uses around 15 terrawatts of power, or one six-thousandth as much. In 14 and a half seconds, the sun provides as much energy to Earth as humanity uses in a day.

      • ADONAI says:

        Total Surface Are Required To Power The Earth With Solar(everything)

      • Peabody II says:

        Solar is unquestionably the cleanest way to go. Unfortunately, we can’t economically “bet the farm” on it. Even though there have been major advances, I don’t see it replacing fossil fuels before they run out. We need a Plan B. And a Plan C.

        As I see it, the mushrooming population on this planet — combined with increasing and insatiable appetite for biggerbettterfastermore — will outstrip the technological potential for power production long before economically comparable substitutes are found. And not that far in the future.

        And when that happens, the technological and economical repercussions will be the least of our worries…

        • invient says:

          In case you are paranoid about torrents for some reason or another, here is a link to the 3+ hour movie that is hosted on youtube….


          • Peabody II says:

            Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out. From what I have time to keep up with, the most promising short-term stop-gap solution to Peak Oil, is Grassahol.

            …But I’m good for anything that replaces fossil fuel — even Fission-Nuclear.

        • invient says:

          http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100616122320.htm (65% efficiency)

          so we are getting close to 90, and once we do there is a technology that Obama referenced in his SOTU that converts the sun & atmosphere into syngas which can be further processed into hydrocarbons (albeit at 15% efficiency)….

          Look up LENR-CANR reactions, while progress is slow there have been verifiable results… the issue is finding out the environment that facilitates these reactions (btw LENR-CANR are the names the “cold fusion” researchers feel comfortable calling their field just in case someone goes on a crusade to fire them)

          If you have never heard of Frank Znidarsic, he I believe has figured out those required environmental variables that lead to LENR-CANR reactions… here is a link that contains a 3+ hour movie explaining the theory (from a layman’s quest to understand it) as well his papers and some historical documents… BTW the torrent was provided by that author of that 3+ hour video, with permission from Frank to use his papers…


          He does some interesting things with his theory that seems to lend some credibility.

          • Peabody II says:

            “so we are getting close to 90,..”

            That’s good, but it’s only half the battle. (Actually, less than half.)

            Whatever replacement technology/-ies for fossil fuels we find, it/they must be capable of almost completely replacing fossil fuels at nearly the same cost before the scarcity of fossil fuels drives energy prices so high that it causes a world-wide “implosion” of civilization.

            That means not only developing the replacement technology/-ies to a cost-per-therm/HP/watt/joule/[whatever] nearly equal to fossil fuels. …BUT WE ALSO, have to build a distribution infrastructure cheaply enough that those costs don’t significantly increase the overall energy-costs, either…

            The task is much larger than most people think it is…

          • Peabody II says:

            Thanks again! I’ll check those out, too!

            The best assessment I’ve read so far is that whatever the best long-term solution ends up being, the short-term is going to be multiple solutions. Wind turbines are economically viable in some regions, solar in others, biomass in others. It will take a lot of “working together” of different technologies to come even close to economically replacing fossil fuels…

  4. PocketWatch says:

    Saudi Arabia Pledges OPEC Supplies to Replace Lost Libya Oil


    Well, let’s see how the oil companies claim that there are shortages now…

    • Reincarnation_TPS says:

      Who knows if this increase will be light sweet crude or heavy sour crude……

      We’ll see…..

    • Peabody II says:

      I seem to recall that among the WikiLeaks revelations, was a State Department memo confirming that the Saudi reserves are a lot lower than they claim they are.

  5. KQuark says:

    Excellent summary.

    One of the talking points big oil and their co-conspirators in the GOP always squawk about are the low margins oil companies make. Well I analyzed those margins during the last $5.00/gal gas scam and they made net income in the ballpark of what specialty chemical companies make.

    But the truth is they should be making margins commodity chemical companies make actually lower for two reasons. First their revenues are so out of whack with other industries that their net total profits are astronomical. Second oil companies offer ZERO innovation to industry as a whole. They are just pumping out an energy source that is 100 years plus old. I know it takes a little more technology to get the oil out of the ground today like drilling muds and such but even those technologies are decades old.

    The bottom line is big oil does not deserve the huge profits it gets. It’s just a commodity and a low technology one at that.

  6. LFer says:

    One thing that never seems to be discussed regarding oil prices is the deleterious effects of market speculation.

    In the spring of 2008 the price of crude oil rose from about $85 to almost $140 in less than six months. During those six months the world’s oil production (supply) did not change appreciably. Likewise, the world’s consumption (demand) did not change appreciably. Yet the price jumped by nearly 60%. Clearly, crude oil prices are not driven by supply and demand, they’re driven by market speculation.

    In my opinion, commodities speculation is a huge and growing problem for the entire world. Market speculation causes wild price fluctuations that are unrelated to the basic market principle of supply and demand.

    Like it or not, the global economy runs on oil. When the price of oil skyrockets like it did in 2008, everything becomes more expensive. Everything. I believe the global economic meltdown late in 2008 was precipitated by this huge spike in oil prices. It had nothing to do with mortgages.

    Weaning the world off of oil will require massive investments. I think the world needs stable oil prices to facilitate those investments. Oddly enough, it was deregulation that destabilized commodities markets. We need to re-regulate these markets and then embark on a Manhattan Project to develop alternative energy resources.

    • KQuark says:

      The thing people don’t realize is that big oil does not pay near the market rate which is obvious by PW’s example.

      But even for companies that don’t produce their own oil they pay contract prices for oil that are months and years long.

      So what oil companies do is buy a tiny slice of that high priced oil at worst and pretend they are paying much higher costs. This enables them to inflate the market for their consumer products like gasoline to fleece us for obscene profits.

      • The oil companies are very dishonest about their justifications about their pricing.

        Let’s say I am a {{spit}} oil company. I buy oil on the 5th and on the 21st of the month.

        On the 5th, oil prices were low. I am expected to lower prices, so I do, to prevent whackjob environmentalists from getting up in my face.

        On the 7th, there’s a big protest against the government in the capitol of a country I sometimes do business with. I raise my prices, because the uncertainty is driving up speculation. Ka-ching!

        On the 12th, the premier in that country is rumored to be shooting foreign oil engineers (started by my own “R & D” department). I raise prices again, because the cost of doing business there has increased: my engineers are refusing to go there without an increase in wages (although I never asked them and they never told me). Ka-ching! And a stiffy!

        On the 14th, because my “R & D” department has pushed the rhetoric a little too hard, the premier is forced to flee the country, and the parliament is disbanded. While I am raising prices because of the problems there (Ka-ching!), the President of the US speaks without my permission, offering to send in Georgetown University political science professors and food.

        On the 20th, the President goes to the other country to observe, is given a cute panda bear cub out of gratitude. Speculation regarding the good will drives the projected cost of oil. I say nothing, just keep raking it in.

        On the 21st, I have to buy more oil, this time at the reduced price. I can wait another day, until the price I paid is made public, before dropping the price again.

        My “R & D” department suggests starting rumors that the college students in the other country are advocating nationalizing the oil fields. I sit back and wait for my next stiffy.

        Notice, at no time did I buy oil from that country! All of those raises in price are free and clear! And the “R&D” department is tax deductible!

    • PocketWatch says:

      It costs only $17.07 (20 year average) to PRODUCE a barrel of oil. This apparently has little to do with the PRICE of a barrel of oil.

      Draw your own conclusions.

      This is partly what I was referring to there. Thanks for expanding the thought.

  7. While I was reading this article, one of my partners was reading over my shoulder trying to (hyperactively) describe all the benefits of oil derived from hemp (as a lubricant for commercial, industrial, and consumer needs).

    Try explaining to a guy who failed civics that no, Obama does not have the power to veto a law that was passed in 1958 (?).

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