Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Some well-deserved Roses

Here’s one from our latest edition of Roses and Razzberries, heard on the air July 7. This was a particularly good story and some positive news about truckers for a change.

A pair of ROSES goes out to two truckers who are credited with saving the lives of two injured people trapped in a burning car.

The accident happened in Blendon Township, Michigan last week. The Associated Press reported that the victims were in a Lexus that collided with a Jeep and caught fire.

The two truckers – William Rozema of Holland and Derek Bockheim of Grand Rapids – came to the rescue.

Two of the people in the Lexus got out, but two others were still trapped.

The truckers used their fire extinguishers and a crowbar to pry the doors open and get the people to safety just as the car was engulfed in fire.

There’s a real crisis, and then there’s this …

Several politicians and candidates have been calling for more off-shore drilling as a way to alleviate the fuel price crisis.

But will that really help? I think that’s what some of the folks promoting the idea would say.

But scientists will tell you the best indicator of future behavior is how people behaved in the past. So let’s take a look at recent cases where the amount of oil available on the market increased, but the price didn’t go down.

First, when the government stopped putting oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, that freed up 50,000 barrels a day and put that oil on the market.

The price did not go down.

In May, Saudi Arabia increased oil production by 300,000 barrels a day.

Guess what? The price didn’t go down.

In the past couple of weeks, the Saudis announced that in July – this month – they would increase oil production by an additional 200,000 barrels a day.

Again, the price didn’t go down.

Just this week, many media outlets reported that after a huge down period due to the war and sabotage, that Iraq was preparing to re-enter the world oil market. The country is looking at deals with Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and others. Up to 500,000 barrels a day – a half million barrels every single day – could become available on the world market after that deal goes through. And that’s just the initial flow. With security improvements in Iraq, it’s more likely than ever to happen.

Surely, that brought down the price.

Nope. The price didn’t go down.

The idea that increased production will lower the price depends on the idea that the futures market is based on reality. Even the Saudis themselves say that if the price were based on real demand, oil should be about $70 a barrel. Yet it hovers around twice that level.

I do think we need to increase production. I also think we need more domestic supplies of energy of all kinds, including oil. I think we need to increase alternative energy production to take some of the pressure off oil.

But I don’t think that the amount of oil on the market has anything to do with the current price crisis.

In 1973, we had a real shortage. People couldn’t buy enough fuel to get a truck more than a few miles down the road.

Have you had any trouble buying fuel? No. That’s because there is no shortage.

The oil market has been manipulated. And it needs to stop.