The explosions from at least 20 drones and several cruise missiles recently striking Saudi Arabian oil facilities continues to reverberate around the globe following reports the blow shut down half the Saudi oil output – some 5.7 million gallons per day, or 5 percent of all global daily oil production.
Despite Saudi claims that it can soon restore lost production levels, the attack serves as yet another reminder of the vulnerability of much of the world’s oil supply. The attack brings into question the continued assertions by some that the United States is now energy-independent.
The attack brings into focus once again the exposure long experienced by our nation’s transportation fuel supply to elements far beyond our control. Much of the petroleum we use to fill our gas tanks continues to come from countries with whom we have what could generously be called “tenuous” relationships.
According to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, the United States imports about 9.93 million barrels of petroleum per day from about 86 countries. U.S. exports to 190 countries and four U.S. territories amounted to about 7.59 million barrels, resulting in a net import amount of 2.34 million barrels daily. Among our best-five sources of petroleum imports in 2018 – Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Iraq.
The growth in the production of biofuels in this country has played a large part in the falloff of U.S. dependence on foreign-oil supplies. The amount of foreign crude petroleum and petroleum products imported in 2005 into the United States peaked at more than 12 million barrels per day, more than 60 percent of the total petroleum then consumed daily in the United States.
Of course vast technological advances have greatly enhanced U.S. production of its own oil supplies, subsequently decreasing the nation’s dependency on imported oil. Nonetheless there remain significant environmental issues from our own drilling. There are the emissions that emanate from petroleum-based fuels, plus issues with the oil-excavation sites themselves in this age of “fracking” – horizontal drilling that has caused minor earthquakes and endangered underground water reserves.
Following the adoption of the Renewable Fuels Act as part of a wider energy bill passed by Congress in 2005 – a stronger version was passed in 2007 – the volume of net U.S. imports began to decline. It has continued to decrease in most of the ensuing 14 years.
The events in Saudi Arabia underscore this country’s lingering vulnerability. As Ohio farmer and Solutions from the Land Co-Chair Fred Yoder said, “Given the volatility of the gas prices we are seeing – and they will only get worse over the weeks ahead – we are far from the energy independence that those who are in – and who support – the fracking industry would have us believe.”
Even with growth in domestic-oil production, the United States allocated some $18 billion in a wide range of expenditures in Saudi Arabia this past year, essentially to ensure the Saudis deliver some-330 million barrels of petroleum. Furthermore the United States imported 2.8 billion barrels of crude oil this past year, equivalent to 45 percent of the oil processed by U.S. refineries. California imports nearly 60 percent of the oil it uses from outside the United States, with nearly half coming into the state via the Middle East’s Strait of Hormuz.
Solutions from the Land promotes the growth of the U.S. biofuel industry as a major effort in reducing the nation’s greenhouse gases that contribute to change in climate. But just as important is the need to diversify our nation’s liquid-fuel supply to fend off the volatile price hikes that can occur due to circumstances far beyond our control.
The recent events underscore how disruptive recent policy decisions made in Washington have been to our nation’s biofuel-production capacity. It is our fervent hope that the White House looks on the renewable-fuel sector as more than a voting bloc, recognizing those in this country who produce ethanol, biodiesel and other critical biofuels are contributing to the very security of our nation in an often-unpredictable world.
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