But, as the oil execs ably explained between bouts of Senatorial grandstanding, the problem here is that "national oil companies" (read Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and their ilk) own not only the oil under the ground but the companies that produce it. American oil "giants" don't really own very much oil at all. And the huge resources of oil, gas, and coal that America has--which, if developed, could clearly blunt the current oil mania--are inaccessible, not because of the corporate oil giants, but because the production of fossil fuels in this country has been effectively terminated due to the predations of eco-freaks and their congressional enablers.
PowerLine has some great sound bits on this. Elaborating on the observation above, an Exxon Mobil exec observed that:
Exxon Mobil is the largest U.S. oil and gas company, but we account for only 2 percent of global energy production, only 3 percent of global oil production, only 6 percent of global refining capacity, and only 1 percent of global petroleum reserves. With respect to petroleum reserves, we rank 14th. Government-owned national oil companies dominate the top spots. For an American company to succeed in this competitive landscape and go head to head with huge government-backed national oil companies, it needs financial strength and scale to execute massive complex energy projects requiring enormous long-term investments.So much for "windfall profits."
To simply maintain our current operations and make needed capital investments, Exxon Mobil spends nearly $1 billion each day.
In case the obtuse Dems in the audience didn't "get it," a Shell exec elaborated further:
...in the United States, access to our own oil and gas resources has been limited for the last 30 years, prohibiting companies such as Shell from exploring and developing resources for the benefit of the American people.That was the windup. Here's the pitch:
Senator Sessions, I agree, it is not a free market.
According to the Department of the Interior, 62 percent of all on-shore federal lands are off limits to oil and gas developments, with restrictions applying to 92 percent of all federal lands. We have an outer continental shelf moratorium on the Atlantic Ocean, an outer continental shelf moratorium on the Pacific Ocean, an outer continental shelf moratorium on the eastern Gulf of Mexico, congressional bans on on-shore oil and gas activities in specific areas of the Rockies and Alaska, and even a congressional ban on doing an analysis of the resource potential for oil and gas in the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico.The Argonne National Laboratory did a report in 2004 that identified 40 specific federal policy areas that halt, limit, delay or restrict natural gas projects.
The cumulative effect of these policies has been to discourage U.S. investment and send U.S. companies outside the United States to produce new supplies.(Bold text highlighted by Wonker.)
As a result, U.S. production has declined so much that nearly 60 percent of daily consumption comes from foreign sources.
The problem of access can be solved in this country by the same government that has prohibited it. Congress could have chosen to lift some or all of the current restrictions on exportation and production of oil and gas. Congress could provide national policy to reverse the persistent decline of domestically secure natural resource development.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) worked with the Shell exec to pinch in on further truths:
HATCH: ...we're talking about Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. It's fair to say that they're not considered part of America's $22 billion of proven reserves.Yeah, they are. (Bold text above courtesy of Wonker.)
HOFMEISTER: Not at all.
HATCH: No, but experts agree that there's between 800 billion to almost 2 trillion barrels of oil that could be recoverable there, and that's good oil, isn't it?
HOFMEISTER: That's correct.
HATCH: It could be recovered at somewhere between $30 and $40 a barrel?
HOFMEISTER: I think those costs are probably a bit dated now, based upon what we've seen in the inflation...
HATCH: Well, somewhere in that area.
HOFMEISTER: I don't know what the exact cost would be, but, you know, if there is more supply, I think inflation in the oil industry would be cracked. And we are facing severe inflation because of the limited amount of supply against the demand.
HATCH: I guess what I'm saying, though, is that if we started to develop the oil shale in those three states we could do it within this framework of over $100 a barrel and make a profit.
HOFMEISTER: I believe we could.
HATCH: And we could help our country alleviate its oil pressures.
HATCH: But they're stopping us from doing that right here, as we sit here. We just had a hearing last week where Democrats had stopped the ability to do that, in at least Colorado.
HOFMEISTER: Well, as I said in my opening statement, I think the public policy constraints on the supply side in this country are a disservice to the American consumer.
The Dems are actually thrilled that oil is currently being goosed upward by speculators at the rate of 2-5 bucks a day which, in pretty short order, is going to cause mass-layoffs when the ripple effect is felt across the housing weakened economy, which is actually attempting to recover. Why? Because it's all about blaming the Republicans. Problem is, they just might succeed, which shows you how thoroughly these leftists have captured the media machine.
In point of fact, since Nixon first attempted to impose some rationality on the oil situation back in the 1970s, the Democrats and their eco-freak allies have thwarted each and every attempt to achieve, if not energy independence, then energy parity with the rest of the oil producing nations. We can't extract oil because it might displace a couple of polar bears. We can't extract oil shale because it might spoil somebody's view. We can't burn coal because it's dirty. We can't use nukes because we'll all be killed. We can't build more hydro because that messes with fish.
You get the picture. The Dems conduct show trials and villainize Republicans and oil companies for causing the disaster for which the Democrats themselves are exclusively responsible. Just shows you how effective Party Discipline--enforced with a little bravado, chutzpah, and outright lying--can be in completely obliterating the truth.
Yesterday's hearings didn't turn out quite as the Dems had expected. Truth sneaked out anyway. But you'll never hear that if all you do is read the local paper or listen to the MSM's Nightly Snooze.