Taking Full Advantage of Energy Abundance
U.S. oil production is now over seven million barrels a day, Bloomberg reports, up 1.13 million barrels/day from just last year.The "spread" in price between West Texas oil and Brent is now over $23/barrel, notes MarketWatch, the reason being the cost of transporting oil from where it's produced -- often in North Dakota -- to where it's consumed by refineries.
The good news is Bakken oil is now starting to reach East Coast markets, which should show up at gas pumps this summer. The better news is that thanks, in part, to the natural gas glut that preceded today's oil boom, the U.S. is actually throwing less carbon into the atmosphere than before.Even better news is the continuing price spread and the gas glut combine to give U.S. manufacturers a huge price advantage over their Chinese competitors, partly offsetting labor cost differences. (Automation may help make up the rest.)
But the best news is yet to come. The U.S. trade deficit is going down, Bloomberg reports, as some of that excess oil is exported.
Wait, there's more. Vehicle miles traveled are leveling off due to higher prices, and gasoline consumption has resumed its downward slope from the Great Recession, thanks to higher-mileage cars. Only 7% of current savings come from better mileage, the Oil Drum writes, but that will rise as more high-mileage cars are sold. Detroit is rising on a wave of energy efficiency.
Taking full advantage of this abundance, however, may mean going against the interests of the people who first brought it to us. Bloomberg is editorializing this week for higher oil taxes, saying it would not push production down and could help with deficit reduction.
But all this ignores the real elephant in the room. I know, you're going to say climate change. I'm talking about the other elephant, renewable energy.