NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Increasing Domestic Oil Production

April 1, 2011

For America, there is a way to greatly minimize, if not fully end, our dependence upon shaky Middle East dictatorships for oil.  With dependable Canadian production and using our own shut-in resources, we can vastly reduce our need for imports.  This should be a vital, immediate national interest, says Jon Basil Utley, associate publisher of the American Conservative.

  • America imports some 10 million barrels per day (bpd).
  • Of this, Canada sends us two million bpd and Mexico sends about one million bpd.
  • Nigeria, Angola and Venezuela send another 1.5 million bpd, all of which is pretty reliable.
  • That comes to around 4.5 million bpd, which means that there is 5.5 million bpd coming from less-reliable sources, including the Middle East.

Here are six things the federal government could do to increase domestic oil production, says Utley.

  • The Alaska pipeline now runs two-thirds empty -- it alone could carry 1.5 million barrels more per day if drilling were allowed.
  • The Gulf of Mexico could be producing another half million barrels per day within five years if permitting were expedited by the Department of the Interior.
  • A crash program to provide abundant LNG (liquid natural gas -- compressed to reduce its volume by a factor of 600) pumps at major interstate truck stops would encourage conversions from using diesel oil, which is imported.
  • Modern oil production allows drilling horizontally miles and miles out in all directions from a single platform;reasonable permissions for drilling off our Atlantic and Pacific coasts could produce billions more barrels of oil.
  • Allowing building of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada's massive tar sands would bring in another half million barrels per day as production ramps up.
  • Congress needs to correct the Environmental Protection Agency's rules to force it to make decisions within 30 days and to use rational measurements instead of a few parts per million as grounds for declaring any product hazardous and illegal.

Source: Jon Basil Utley, "The Case for Increasing Domestic Oil Production," Reason Magazine, March 23, 2011.

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