Tag Archives: oil production

Here’s a thought: Let’s join OPEC


The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has becomes something of a four-letter word in the United States.

OPEC is evil. It intends to do us harm. We don’t want to be “dependent” on oil produced in countries that hate us.

You’ve heard the mantra. I’ve heard it, too. It all started about the time of the first Arab oil embargo in 1973.

Here, though, is a notion that ought to get some serious consideration.

Now that the United States also is a “petroleum exporting country,” why don’t we join OPEC at the conference table?

OPEC comprises a lot of nations that do hate the United States. Venezuela is one of them. Iran, too.

However, now that we’re the big dog in the fossil fuel-producing pack, it would seem to make sense that we could exert our own influence over OPEC’s decision-making as it grapples with whether to reduce or increase production in an effort to control worldwide fuel prices.

Through a series of on-going efforts, Americans have eliminated this country’s dependence on imported oil. We’re now on the verge of becoming No. 1 in the world. We’ve overtaken Russia and Saudi Arabia. We’ve developed more renewable energy sources, helping increase the glut of petroleum on the world market.

OPEC, though, keeps meeting and deciding how much — or how little — oil to produce.

Isn’t it time the United States of America join OPEC? For that matter, we ought to bring our oil-rich allies in Canada and Mexico into the organization with us — providing, of course, that they’d be willing. We no longer need to curse the organization.


OPEC sends a Christmas gift


Bloomberg News reports that the price of gasoline is about to plummet.

Good news, yes? Sure, if you’re a motorist who dislikes pouring money into his motor vehicle fuel tank. I’m one of those.

If you’re a government official who serves a state — such as, say, Texas — that depends on oil revenue to fund government services, well, the news isn’t so great.

My self-interest makes me happy about the news.

OPEC is refusing to cut production of oil. U.S. supplies are at an all-time high. We’re driving more fuel-efficient vehicles these days. We’re developing alternative energy sources. Hey, it’s all good.

I don’t like paying nearly four bucks a gallon for fuel, which is what we were shelling out two years ago. Today, the price of gasoline in Amarillo is around $1.62 per gallon.

It’s interesting, too, to note the silence from Barack Obama’s critics now that fuel prices are heading south. When they were skyrocketing in the other direction about midway through the president’s first term, the critics were blaming him personally for the hardship. These days, he’s getting none of the love.

Does he deserve it? Aww, probably not.

Neither did he deserve the blame when the prices were going the other way.

Thanks, OPEC, for the holiday gift.

Merry Christmas to you, too, OPEC.

Lower gas prices: more positive than negative


Did you see what I saw this morning while driving to one of my four part-time jobs?

The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dipped to less than $2 per gallon in Amarillo.

Good news, yes? Well, I think so.

Motorists such as my wife and me do not enjoying shelling out big bucks for gasoline. Our Prius hybrid has more than paid for itself in fuel efficiency. We’ll keep for as long as we possibly can. Heck, it might live me.

But I get the downside of the lower prices, particularly in states — such as Texas — that rely on oil revenues to fund things such as, oh, state government.

State Rep. Four Price, an Amarillo Republican, told the Rotary Club of Amarillo the other day that the next Texas Legislature is likely to receive some not-so-cheery news from the comptroller’s office when it convenes in January 2017. It will be that oil revenue will be down sharply from the current budget cycle and that the state likely will not have the projected revenue surplus it got when the 2015 Legislature convened.

Gas prices plummet

I get that. I also understand that $100-per-barrel oil is more profitable to pump than, say, $42-per-barrel crude — which is about what it’s drawing these days.

But you know what? I am not going to waste too much emotional energy worrying about those ancillary effects when my household is getting a significant break in its weekly expense obligation.


Gas-price skid causes nervousness

So-called “experts” on energy prices and policies keep telling us the same thing.

The downward spiral in oil and gasoline prices is going to continue perhaps well into the new year.

But watching the price ticking down — often more than once daily — continues to make me nervous.

The price of unleaded gas has now dipped to less than $2 per gallon in Amarillo. I work part time across the street from a leading gas dealer here and I’ve seen the sign tick down as many as three times during a single day.

How low will it go?

The experts aren’t saying yet how cheap they think gas will get.

Supply is up. Demand is down. American drillers keep producing oil like there’s no tomorrow. But everyone knows how free-market economics works: If the supply keeps outstripping demand, eventually the suppliers will scale back their production to even out the inventory of oil and gasoline on the market. The result inevitably increases the price of gas a the pump.

As we’ve all seen for the past several years, gasoline increases in price at a far quicker pace than it decreases.

Hey, I’m not predicting gloom and doom at the pump.

I’m merely suggesting that I’m getting quite used to paying the same amount for gas that I was paying five years ago or longer.

The “new normal” in gas prices had produced a certain form of numbness to the prices we were paying. Now that new normal has been shaken — but in a positive sort of way.

It still makes me nervous about what could be coming down the road.


Declining oil prices bad for economy?

Economics isn’t my specialty. Indeed, I don’t have any specialties.

I’m trying to understand why some economists now think the declining price of oil and the concurrent drop in gasoline prices is somehow bad for the recovering U.S. economy.


Does anyone else remember when crude prices were skyrocketing from, say, $40 per barrel to more than $100? The stock market went bonkers. Investment accounts were drained of billions of dollars.

However, the oil industry made a gigantic comeback. NPR this morning did a story from West Texas detailing how pump jacks that once stood like dinosaurs have jumped back to life and are pulling out of the ground.

A lot of other factors have contributed to the nation’s economic rebound.

Moreover, a lot of factors are contributing to the glut of oil that’s driving its price downward.

Now we hear that the economic recovery might be jeopardized by the plunge in oil prices.

The oil boom might fizzle out at the production end, but what about the increase in disposable income for motorists who aren’t pouring as much money into their fuel tanks?

Will they be able to spend more of that income on other essential — and non-essential — items?

Economics can be a complicated issue. This oil price up-down cycle has me confused.


More good news to share: oil

That doggone good news just keeps piling up. Why, I just don’t know what to do with myself as I look at this stuff.

Did you know, for example, that by the end of 2014 the United States of America likely will be the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas?


All those pump jacks you see bobbing along the vast West Texas landscape suggest to me that hundred-dollar-per-barrel oil is paying some dividends for the U.S. of A.

Bloomberg reports that American oil production surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia earlier this year. We’ll be No. 1 soon, according to the business news outlet.

Let’s add natural gas to the mix. Oil production is up 49 percent since 2008, according to Bloomberg. Adding natural gas to the mix boosts the increase way beyond even that impressive figure.

On the flip side, there’s even more good news. We’re using less fossil fuel because of more fuel-efficient motor vehicles. Hmmm. Interesting, yes? Is that because that big, mean old government has required vehicles to burn fuel more efficiently?

And what about all this doom-and-gloom talk about how the feds were intent on “destroying the oil industry” by making it so difficult to explore for these fuels? Has the destruction occurred? Not by a long shot.

A favorite mantra among politicians of all stripes is the need to rid this nation of its dependence on foreign fossil fuel, particularly the fuel that comes from those crazy places like the Middle East.

Let’s see. I think we’re doing that.

The Bakken Field in North Dakota and Montana appears to contain the largest reserve in world history. Canada continues to be our friend by producing copious quantities of fossil fuel. However, let’s be mindful of yet another cheerful development: We’re importing a smaller amount of our oil — from friend and foe alike — than at any time in our history.

Gosh, I hate be the bearer of good news when we’re frothing over all these foreign crises.

Oh, I’m just kidding. I kind of like trying to add a little fuller context to the gloominess that seems to energize so many Americans.

Oklahoma becomes quake prone

Imagine it. California and Oklahoma — for crying out loud — have something in common.

No, it’s not their politics. Nor the collective lifestyles of residents of both states.

It’s about earthquakes. It seems that Oklahoma has become prone to tremors at a level that is rivaling our neighbors way out west.


The Sooner State averaged 1.5 earthquakes daily for the past 30 years, according to seismologists. However, since Jan. 1, the daily rate of quakes with a 3.0 Richter Scale rating or greater has zoomed to much greater frequency, those scientists suggest.

The cause has them scratching their heads.

Some of us non-experts — such as yours truly — wonder whether it’s the extensive drilling for fossil fuel that is causing these seismic shifts.

I cannot pretend to be an expert on these matters, but consider this:

I’ll leave the issue of fracking out of this. The effect of hydraulic fracturing — pumping water to break loose shale oil — has been a topic of considerable debate.

They’ve been drilling for a lot of years for oil and natural gas in Oklahoma. Have the drillers made the planet less stable?

Well, have they?

Gas prices zoom up … why?

Oil speculators have become the bane of many Americans’ existence.

They’re the folks who push panic buttons every time a crisis flares in a region of the world that produces oil.

Iraq. Oil. Crisis. Price spikes. Boom!


The price of gasoline jumped a dime per gallon today across Amarillo because, I guess, speculators have determined that the Iraq crisis is going to result in a major disruption of oil from that region to the rest of the world.

Politico.com reports that the Midwest region of the United States is the first to feel the hit. I guess that would include the Texas Panhandle.

President Obama said the crisis in Iraq hadn’t created “major disruptions of oil supplies.”

I’ll take him at his word.

Back to oil speculators. I continue to be amazed that gas prices are subject to these dramatic increases. Decreases — if they come — usually arrive in dribs and drabs. A penny here and there. Maybe two cents a gallon.

Frankly, it remains a mystery to me that the price of oil has to move at all even when these crises erupt.

This country imports a tiny fraction of its oil from Iraq in the first place. The bulk of our imported oil — which now comprises a minority of all the petroleum consumed by Americans — comes from friendlier sources, such as Canada and Mexico.

But it’s those speculators that drive me more than just a tad nuts as the price of gasoline zooms upward.

I don’t believe I’m the only person who shares this view.