The thread in Aviation has some hard data
From that it is worth following the link about the T Boone Pickens proposals
(Planemaker Reply 65)
The best analysis I can find is at
McCain’s Energy Plan: Correct Diagnosis, Killer Prescription
I am sure there are others and I welcome being directed to better analyses.
The first thing to note is that his description of the current situation is largely correct. While he probably overemphasizes the role of speculation in recent price rises, he does point out that this is correct only as far as it represents a fundamental shift between growing demand from places like China and India and supply .... He also rightly points out that US dependency on imported oil has been growing, and that the amounts of money paid out to often hostile oil-exporting countries are reaching record levels. He also .. reminds us that the policies of the past 40 years have done little to change this trend.
And his first policy recommendation is most appropriate: “energy conservation is no longer just a moral luxury or a personal virtue. Conservation serves a critical national goal.” ......... Putting conservation and energy efficiency, i.e., action towards demand reduction, at the forefront of his policy proposals is a good thing and would be a real change ...
In his Santa Barbara speech, he also emphasizes energy efficiency, and he fleshes out some sensible proposals in that respect, including direct action to make government offices and vehicle fleets energy stingy. .......
Further, McCain acknowledges systematic climate change, and the widely-supported theory that fossil fuels play a significant role in fostering it. He specifically argues that energy policy must include measures to curb carbon emissions, via cap-and-trade mechanisms. .........
But when one moves to his recommendations, the gap is suddenly yawning with this diagnosis. His concrete proposals include more drilling in the USA, more nuclear energy, and, in an apparent nod to standard Republican economic fare, less regulation (for refineries) and lower taxes (on gas). “Apparent” because the targets seem wrongheaded: if no refinery has been built in the US over the past 31 years, as McCain asserts, that does not mean that “refining capacity” and runs has [have] not increased in the past 15 years via investments on existing sites, and it does not mean that there are any refining shortages.
In fact, refining margins are significantly lower than last year, making the increase in gas prices much less than the increase in oil price would have warranted. And lowering gas taxes can only bring results in direct contradiction to his stated goals. By reducing prices at the pump, it will increase demand (or stop demand reduction efforts); more likely, it will lead to higher margins for oil companies — which probably don’t need the help. Either way, it will not help moving away from the addiction to oil, as diagnosed by President Bush in his 2006 State of the Union address.
With his proposals to open currently closed off areas of the USA for oil production, John McCain seems to think that the problem is addiction to foreign oil rather than to oil per se. But a country that controls 3% of world oil reserves while consuming 24% of world demand cannot seriously expect to be self-sufficient for very long. Indeed, the 21 billion barrels of inaccessible reserves that McCain wants to open to production represent barely 3 years of total US consumption. Even if they were brought to the market rapidly, their impact would be temporary. In fact, the Energy Information Agency, in a report published in 2007, concluded that "access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030" and that "any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant." Authorising drilling in currently closed areas will not bring more oil to the market, and will not bring prices down. Pushing it as energy policy perpetuates the hope that it is somehow possible to come back to worry-free times of cheap and plentiful oil. But this is by no means a distinguishing feature of John McCain: this is the real "third rail" of US politics, and no politician has dared touch it so far.
Similarly, his policies with respect to coal and nuclear are focused on the supply side rather than the demand side; ...........
However, it is certainly possible to move towards a significant share of electricity generation coming from nuclear: after all, it took France less than 15 years to go from no nukes to 80% of its consumption coming from 58 nuclear plants - all using an identical US design provided by Westinghouse. On the coal front, US reserves are also sufficient to ensure plentiful power generation for some decades; however such a policy would go against McCain's professed goal to reduce carbon emissions, as carbon capture and storage is still a theory rather than an industrial reality and is likely to remain that way for many years. Moreover, nukes and coal are not - yet - substitutes for the main use of oil: transportation. Until plug-in hybrids or other electric vehicles become dominant, or people move massively to light rail, electricity will not be a meaningful substitute for oil. And coal to liquids technology is unlikely to ever be scaled to the current needs of US motorists, given the need for vast volumes of water in the process.
So, despite his claims to provide a break from the past, McCain's proposals are stuck in the very same mindset he criticizes - the one that drove Hillary Clinton to push for lower gas taxes, Bush to call for renewed offshore drilling, or Obama to support coal production in the Appalachians: the fundamentally American notion that there is no limit to what one can do, and that solutions will be found by going for more, or bigger, rather than doing less or smaller. But as the global scarcity of oil, that incredible, irreplaceable gift of nature, wich packs energy in a dense, easily transportable form, becomes more obvious, and as we need to increasingly fight with the Chinese and others for it, a revolution in our minds will be necessary to no longer take it for granted. It is a pity that McCain, whose description of today's crisis is spot on, cannot take that jump yet beyond that minimalist $300 million reward for better batteries.
I have cut down the text but it is fairly densely written. And there are so many points that are valuable, such as water availability for coal to liquids (CTL).
Specifcally on drilling, there is an absence of a consideration by McCain of what might be found, what might be produced and the size of the gap.
The USGS considers that resources on the N Slope might be (MIGHT BE) up to 5.9 billion barrels. If that was produced over 20 years - effectively a medium term asset at best - this would average about 800,000 barrels per day. US production is declining as shown in this graph.
|US Oil Production 1965-2007|
Adding 800,000 bpd to that is going to be just a minor blip.
As the oil drum article infers (and T Boone Pickens says), conservation and other measures are going to have to be of much greater significance than attempts to "patch" the US oil production.
None of which is to say that oil and gas production in and by the US will not be profitable, it will be highly profitable, just it will not fix the energy problems.
It is a huge subject, so of course this intro is incomplete. Any thoughts?