Drill, baby, drill – revisited

Ventures Into Scepticism

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Video description

Steven Crowder released a video where he makes fun of the current petrol prices and of the policies Obama has on it. In it he makes a case for more drilling in the United States to lower oil prices.

Unfortunately the numbers he mentioned are used incorrectly, and drilling won't make any significant impact on prices.

You can watch the full video he released here:


CROWDER: Son of a...

I always find it funny when Americans get outraged when petrol reaches prices in the range of 4 dollars a gallon. The reason why is that I already paid over 5 dollars a gallon when I got my first car, over 8 years ago. Which explains why we Europeans appreciate high milage cars.

But I digress, so lets continue with the actual point Crowder was making with his video.
Oh, and if you're wondering what I just paid for my petrol, it's $8.91 per gallon.

CROWDER: But what if I were to tell you that America has over a hundred and sixty three billion barrels in untapped oil reserves. Enough to replace our imports from the Persian Gulf for over 50 years!

Yet president Obama wants to block drilling faster than Joe Biden can nod off at one of his boss's speeches. But I thought mister Obama wants to win the future. Wouldn't winning the future include reducing our dependence on foreign oil?

This does sound a lot, 163 billion barrels of oil. But lets take a look at how they got this number.

The amount of proved reserves the United States has is mostly pegged around 20.6 billion barrels of oil. Crowder got the number of 163 billion barrels from the report “U.S. Fossil Fuel Resources:
Terminology, Reporting, and Summary” released by the Congressional Research Service.

This report states a higher proved reserves of 28.4 billion barrels, than the more common 20.6 billion barrels. I'll explain why in a moment.
But most importantly, 134.5 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable resources. Which means that these resources haven't been discovered yet, there is good reason to believe these resources might be out there. But it's unknown where exactly this oil is. Which makes it hard to drill for it.

But there's a even bigger whopper in this figure he stated. Remember the proved oil reserves of 28.4 billion barrels that is higher than my previously mentioned 20.6 billion? This is because they include barrels of oil equivalent in this figure. When you use barrels of oil equivalent it means you converted a different fossil fuel to it's equivalent in oil, based on it's heat contents. So it's not oil at all, in this case it's natural gas.

The exact same thing has been done for the previously mentioned 134 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable resources. As it includes over 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent natural gas.

Now I find this misleading to say the least. As most of the oil reserves he mentioned aren't even found yet. Some of it not even being oil. And till these oil resources are found we can't actually drill for them. Not to mention, depending on where you are drilling, it can take between 5 and 10 years to get an oil field producing. And then the oil field isn't even producing at peak capacity. And all this is assuming there aren't any legal and technical hurdles you need to overcome.

But there's an even bigger problem with the drill baby drill plan on pushing prices down in the United States. Oil is a global market, and more drilling in the United States doesn't mean your prices will go down. And any new production you can feasibly achieve for driving down prices is not big enough to truly affect prices. Projections put this around 3 cents per gallon, in 2030.

Combine this with the potential environmental damage of getting to these resources. The uncertainties in the market due to politics and unforeseen circumstances (natural disasters come to mind). And the very real problem of price shocks in the oil trade as it's a dwindling resource, the industry itself has already said that the days of easy oil are gone. And there is currently a growing suspicion that global oil production has already peaked or is currently peaking.

Drilling for oil might relieve some of this in the short term. But there is no chance whatsoever that it will fix the United States dependency on foreign oil. If you want to drastic reduce this dependency you need to start using technologies that either replace, or reduce, the consumption of oil. Like electric cars and hybrids that have made enormous strides in the past few years. And start using renewable resources like wind and solar, which are already competitive with energy generated by fossil fuels in certain regions of the United States.

These technologies will only get better, more efficient and cheaper when production goes up. And these are just a few of methods that can actually reduce the dependency on foreign oil. It's just not as catchy and easy to chant as drill baby drill.


  1. This time, high gas prices aren't killing auto sales
  2. Better fuel standards would save Americans $67 billion at the pump each summer - The average family would save $513 in just three months
  3. U.S. Fossil Fuel Resources: Terminology, Reporting, and Summary
  4. International Petroleum (Oil) Imports and Exports
  5. International Energy Statistics
  6. Can Offshore Drilling Really Make the U.S. Oil Independent?
  7. Impact of Limitations on Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Federal Outer Continental Shelf
  8. Cain Doesn't Get High Gas Prices
  9. MEDIUM-TERM Oil Market Report
  10. Solar Power May Already Rival Coal, Prompting Installation Surge

Media resources

  1. CELEBRITIES EVERYWHERE! (Barack for Brazil)
  2. Ocean Star Drilling Rig by Ed Schipul
  3. Ocean Star Drilling Rig by Ed Schipul
  4. Colorful Old Oil Barrels by Lars Christopher Nøttaasen
  5. DSCN1753 by Perpetual Tourist
  6. Even "off brand" gas stations cannot compete with high prices. by Miss Kari Baby
  7. RBC Creates Climate Chaos by Jonathan McIntosh
  8. New York. Wall Street. Stock Exchange by Tomas Fano
  9. Pump Up by Bart Everson
  10. Haze by John Loo
  11. this is the worlds most advanced 11MW solar power plant by Alex Lang
  12. Hellisheidi geothermal power plant by ThinkGeoEnergy
  13. windmill 1 by Derek Oyen
  14. Intro: StrangeZero -- Deep Of Night (Album Delusional Disorder)
  15. Outtro: Mindthings -- Exponential Tears (Album Life's Path)

Ventures Into Scepticism