Thursday, October 13, 2005

Maryland Congressman, President Bush Discusses ‘Peak Oil’

The Lone Star Iconoclast

July 12, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. — District 6 Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R - Maryland) met with President George W. Bush at the White House on June 29 for an extensive discussion about peak oil — the end of cheap oil. Congressman Bartlett declined to discuss or characterize any of his private conversation with the President, but said that he was very happy about the meeting.

“Peak oil is not the end of oil, but it is the end of cheap oil,” said Congressman Bartlett.

Congressman Bartlett has discussed peak oil extensively in the past seven weeks in a series of Special Order speeches to the U.S. House of Representatives. Copies of text, charts, and video of peak oil speeches and presentations are posted on Congressman Bartlett’s website at

American Shell Oil scientist M. King Hubbert identified peak oil in the mid-1950s. He discovered oil field production follows a bell curve. It rises to a maximum—or peak—and then declines. At the top or peak of the curve, about half of the oil is extracted. The second half is harder and takes more time and money to produce.

“M. King Hubbert predicted U.S. oil production would peak in 1970. Oil production in the U.S. did peak in 1970 and has declined every year since then. Alaska and Gulf of Mexico oil slowed, but haven’t and can’t change that trend,” said Bartlett in a press release. “America’s largest oil field, Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, peaked in 1987 and now produces 75 percent less oil. Energy experts agree that America can never produce enough oil domestically to meet our current or future demand.”

Bartlett said Hubbert predicted global peak oil in 2000. “He could not have known about the Arab oil embargo or the worldwide recession in the 1970s. However, there is no reason to doubt global peak oil will occur,” added the congressman.

Bartlett said that energy experts agree that global peak oil is fast approaching as China and India increase oil production and military construction projects could effect the world shipping trade. He added that these foreign companies, which produce 77 percent of the oil, are nationalized companies in countries with governments that are undemocratic, hostile, or unstable.

“Many of these companies’ operations are not transparent or independently verifiable. That poses both a national security and economic security threat,” said Bartlett. “Forty percent of the world’s oil is shipped through the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf that is vulnerable to terrorist attacks. China increased its oil imports 25 percent last year. China is investing in oil projects around the globe and quickly building a blue water navy to secure oil shipping lanes. They built or bought 10-11 subs last year compared to 1 by the U.S.”

ExxonMobil projects that world energy demand will increase 50 percent by 2030 and that 80 percent of that increase will occur in the developing world, added the congressman. China is predicted to increase its consumption by 100 percent and India by 129 percent. World oil discoveries peaked in the 1960s.

“You can’t pump what you haven’t found,” said Bartlett. “Where will that additional oil production come from and at what price? Oil is now at $60/barrel, the highest since 1983 adjusted for inflation. Earlier this year, Goldman Sachs predicted it would rise to more than $100/barrel. That would top the 1980 price peak in the U.S.”

Oil imports are also a major factor in America’s balance of trade deficit, he said and cited U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics:
• Since 2000, Venezuela has received $76 billion more from trade with the U.S., with a projected 19 percent increase in the trade deficit in 2005.
• Since 1995, Saudi Arabia has received $61 billion more from trade with the U.S., with a projected 8 percent increase in the trade deficit in 2005.
• Since the U.S. started importing more than exporting with Iran in 2000, they have received $569 million more from trade with the U.S., with a projected 35 percent increase in the trade deficit in 2005.

Congressman Bartlett called for a national energy policy and a program on a scale of the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II to prevent or mitigate the consequences of global peak oil.

“To avoid a really bumpy ride, what we need to do is dramatically reduce our consumption,” he said. “The cheapest oil is oil we don’t use. Second, we need to invest in greater energy efficiency. Third, we have to invest our limited resources of time and current energy sources to make rapid advances in the development of alternative, renewable sources of energy.”

Congressman Bartlett urged the U.S. government to institute this policy now. “Doing nothing or doing too little too late will lead to a global economic and geopolitical tsunami with potentially devastating ramifications,” he said. “I’m confident about the ability and ingenuity of Americans to overcome the national security and economic security challenges of global peak oil.”


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