Monday, October 18, 2010

Foreign Oil

OK pop quiz: Where does most of our imported oil come from?
This is not a trick question.

I was in a workshop with an MSU prof last week and he shared some surprising stats (at least for me).

Here’s the ranking which comes from:

Crude Oil Imports
(Thousand Barrels per Day)
Country Jul-10
CANADA 2,055
MEXICO 1,174
IRAQ 430

Surprised? Me too. Canada #1? And almost double our next nearest supplier Mexico.
But look at the others: Nigeria – I went there in 1976 and it was unstable then – long before so many Christian/Islamic conflicts were even on the radar.

We make such a deal about the Saudis - #4 but in overall % of our imports – about 15% of this top 6.

Hugo Chavez gets in our news because he is so close and Pat Robertson said we should assassinate him but again they are down the list.

And lest anyone think we went to and are still in Iraq because of their oil – check the numbers. If we went to war in Iraq to get their oil, somebody somewhere needs to memorize this chart. Maybe pre-2003 they provided much more than this. I don’t know.
But if your/our political agendas are driven by oil in anyway shape or form, these numbers and countries have to factor in big-time.

I’ve always thought of Canada as a great source for Hockey and a pretty place to go (really love Montreal!) but honestly not much else. Did you know some of their oil comes from the Atlantic Ocean – offshore drilling? But most of it comes from not too far north of our long shared border. I just saw an article today about the pipeline to move Canadian oil to the gulf coast – being delayed. After the BP debacle, seems folks are antsy about having a big pipeline traversing the country. Guess memories of the Valdez spill decades ago are fresh too.

This is not an energy argument. This is not about big oil and how we need to wean ourselves off foreign oil.

But to believe the media, you’d think Saudi Arabia or at least some other Arabian country would be #1 and that’s what drives our foreign policy in the Middle East.
Here’s the next scary thought in all this: the MSU prof told us that Chinese and Korean companies are buying up stakes and shares in Canadian oil companies. So something right on our doorstep might get sucked into the Chinese vortex.

According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Canada had 178 billion barrels of proven oil reserves as of January 2009, second only to Saudi Arabia. The bulk of these reserves (over 95 percent) are oil sands deposits in Alberta.

My thinking here is that our north and south neighbors are hugely important to our energy future. Canada doesn’t seem like a direct threat in any way but if China is buying their way in to secure their energy future – shouldn’t we?

And Mexico. I heard off-hand and can’t recall the source but a comment about immigration into Italy from Libya. But then Italy stopped it. How did they stop it? They paid the Libyans not to come.

So in thinking about our own immigration policy (or lack of a coherent consistent plan) maybe paying Mexico something in exchange for a share of their oil is a solution to 2 vexing problems.

I have no answers here, just found this a very interesting and perhaps under-reported piece of information.

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