Friday, February 03, 2006

How The Mullahs Can Help The US

The president's call for the US to stop importing oil from Muslim fear states for is practical and realistic - getting this moving just needs a gentle push from the Mullahs...

This piece
by Peter Huber of the Manhattan Institute analyzes the numbers (WSJ subscription):

Most instant pundits missed the cagey phrasing of the two sound bites that made headlines the next morning. "America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world," President Bush declared in his State of the Union message Tuesday night. But new technologies, he went on, will allow us to "replace more than 75% of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025." The president did not say that oil supplies most of our energy, nor that most of our oil comes from bad places. Nor did he propose any gush of new federal spending on pie-in-the-sky "alternative" fuels.

Huber explains that US energy consumption measured in Billion Barrels of Oil Equivalents (BBOE) looks like this.

Energy and SourceBBOE
Oil from Gulf States1
Oil from US, Mexico &Canada4
Oil from Rest of World2
Coal, Gas, Nuclear & Hydro11

By increasing domestic power generation using coal and nuclear, the 5.5% of US consumption that comes from the Gulf States can be replaced as follows:
The one BBOE of natural gas currently used to generate electricity could instead be powering heavy trucks, delivery vehicles and buses -- which currently burn about 1.5 BBO of oil. These vehicles can easily be modified to run on natural gas; quite a few already have been.

We use another one BBO of natural gas for industrial, commercial and residential heating -- much of which can be replaced with electrically powered heaters, microwave systems, lasers and other high-intensity radiators. By pushing natural gas off the grid, out of the factory and onto the highway, coal and uranium in the power plant substitute for oil on the street.
So that's 2 BBOE the US could free up to replace the Persian Gulf oil imports, filling the gap with domestically generated power that uses current technology and requires only regulatory headroom.

There are powerful vested interests opposing nuclear and coal - notably the Greens - so the process needs jump-starting. The Mullahs will do the US a great favor if they stage an oil crisis.