NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 11, 2006

For years, the United States has refused to explore for oil in the 90-mile-wide waters separating Cuba and Florida. Now, Cuba is enlisting help from China, India and other interested parties in an effort to explore for oil in Cuban waters 50 miles off the Florida coast, says the Washington Post.

How has U.S. petroleum supply and demand changed over the last 20 years?

  • U.S. crude oil output declined by 43 percent (nearly 4 million barrels per day), falling from 9 million barrels in 1985 to 5.2 million in 2005.
  • Meanwhile, U.S. demand for petroleum products increased by 31 percent (5 million barrels per day), rising from 15.7 million barrels in 1985 to 20.7 million in 2005. As a result, net imports of petroleum products soared by nearly 200 percent (more than 8 million barrels per day), skyrocketing from 4.3 million barrels in 1985 to 12.4 million in 2005.

One important reason why U.S. crude oil production has fallen so precipitously since 1985 is America's willful refusal to explore for oil where reserves certainly exist, says the Post.

  • Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) contains a mean expected value of 10.4 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil, whose daily output of nearly 1.4 million barrels would be larger than the current daily onshore oil production of any of the lower 48 states.
  • The Minerals Management Service (MMS) of the Department of Interior estimates that beneath the waters of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) lie some 76 billion barrels of oil in yet-to-be-discovered fields. That's three and a half times U.S. proved oil reserves.
  • Offshore oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico alone are estimated to be more than 40 billion barrels, much of it precluded from exploration by official U.S. policy.

Source: Editorial, "Communists, Oil and the Florida Coast," Washington Times, May 4, 2006.


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