Fracking and the Oil Crisis

Efforts to prevent fracking are threatening all Americans.

Fracking has created an abundant supply of inexpensive natural gas, creating a surplus where an emerging shortage a few years ago was dictating the need to import natural gas from the Mideast.

Unlike the mental image projected by environmental organizations of oil spewing over the country side, fracking has been proven safe, with no contamination of water supplies, and very few spills of any kind.

Spindletop January 10, 1901
Spindletop January 10, 1901

Henry Hub prices are now below $3.00 per million BTU, while they were above $11.00 per million BTU only 7 years ago.

Lower prices have benefitted consumers who use natural gas for heating (22% of total U.S. usage), industry that uses natural gas as feedstock and for processes (30% of total U.S. usage), and power generation for producing electricity (26% of total U.S. usage).

Lower prices for natural gas have meant more jobs for Americans with the revival of the chemical industry, and lower costs for American consumers.
Fracking has also put the United States on the pathway leading to independence from foreign oil.

Total U.S. oil production in 2015 will be around 9.3 million barrels per day (mb/d), essentially the same as in 2014. Of this, approximately 4.5 mb/d will be shale oil, and the result of fracking.

Oil output from fracking has resulted in a large drop in the trade deficit, from over $40 billion for oil in 2009, to around $15 billion for oil in 2014.

This administration, together with environmental groups, have consistently proposed policies that would prevent or curtail fracking, which would kill the goose that has laid the golden egg.

The Saudis have undertaken a policy of maintaining oil output regardless of the price of oil, in, what some believe, is an attempt to kill shale oil production in the United States.

This would put this administration and environmental organizations in pursuit of the same objective as Saudi Arabia.

One measure of the effect of low oil prices will be the number of drill rigs operating in the United States during 2015.

The largest number of oil and natural gas drill rigs operating in the united States during 2014 were 1,582 oil, and 369 natural gas.

As of February 13, there were 1,056 oil rigs and 300 gas rigs in operation, a drop of 526 oil rigs and 69 natural gas rigs.

By one estimate, the number of oil rigs will need to fall below 1,100 before the output of oil begins to fall by the end of 2015. Currently, total oil production in the United State is still increasing.

We are still fracking, and it will be a simple matter to increase drilling once the price of oil is in balance with supply.

Perhaps the best weapon the United States has against the oil cartel is fracking.

Some cartel members, especially Saudi Arabia, can produce oil at around $20 per barrel, but these countries get fewer dollars when prices are low which threatens their stability. Many cartel members must get a much higher price for their oil.

The Gulf oil states may be able to recycle petrodollars to bolster their economies and provide support for their populations, but their bank accounts will eventually be depleted and they will need to raise their prices.

Whether they raise their prices this year or next, or the year after, the frackers will be able to quickly go to work and increase oil production in the United States. It requires only two months to drill a new shale oil well and large numbers of rigs are waiting to be put back to work drilling for oil.

Fracking is strategically and economically important to the United States, and efforts to kill fracking, in the name of stopping global warming, will harm all Americans.

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