Oil Woes for the DOE


So, US crude oil production increased 182,000 barrels (or .01 percent) in 2007 compared to 2006. Good news, right? It would be, if that were not the first time production has increased since 1991, and only the tenth time that annual oil production has grown since it peaked in 1970. In fact, production has never reached the 1970 number of 3.52 billion barrels, and has lost an average of 1.8 percent per year in production since 1985. So why are we allotting a $24 billion budget to the US Department of Energy – which was set up specifically to reduce dependence on foreign oil – when, clearly, no progress is being made? Great question.

The statistics on oil imports are equally discouraging. Crude oil imports reached an all-time high in 2005 at 3.696 billion barrels. Except for a sharp decline in the 1980s, petroleum imports to the US have been on the rise, from around 1 billion barrels in 1970 to 4.4 billion in 2007. Last year, there was a 75 percent deficit gap of 5.7 billion barrels of petroleum between production and consumption, which was attributed to the rising number of imports and record lows in crude oil inventory.

Such a bleak picture of the oil industry should raise scepticism about the effectiveness of the Department of Energy in carrying out its objectives. The US has become significantly more dependent on foreign oil instead of less. The oil production numbers have dramatically decreased since the founding of DOE. It is almost comical that the goals its sets are reliable, affordable energy and US economic competitiveness in the oil industry. Since its beginning in 1977, the Department of Energy has only negatively impacted the United States' ability to compete worldwide. And with no change in sight, it will continue to waste billions of government funds a year  - sounds like a familiar tale indeed.