Whose Got The Oil?

  Former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota is making the rounds promoting his new novel “Blowout.”  It’s about eco-terrorism.   While being interviewed about the book, the former Senator mentioned that “the three largest oil reserves in the world are (in) Saudi Arabia, Iran (and) Iraq.”  However, CNBC reports that Brazil, China and the United States have the biggest oil reserves, in that order.   Another list puts the top reserves with Saudi Arabia, Canada and Iraq.   The CIA says the top reserves are in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Canada.

I think I’ll go with the CIA.  I have a feeling they usually get it right, no matter what Dubya Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, might say.  I can still remember CIA Director, George Tenet, shuttling back and forth between CIA headquarters and the White House, trying to convince George W. Bush, that there was no substantial evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass diversion.   Amazing how that part of the record has been all but erased, with Dubya giving Tenet the Medal of Freedom as a token of appreciation for the terrible job he’d done.   Or so the Bush Administration wanted everyone to believe.  See if this makes any sense to you.  Tenet, tells Bush he has no credible evidence of WMD’s in Iraq.  Bush invades Iraq anyway.  When it turns out there are no WMD’s to be found, the Bush Administration, basically, says it’s all the CIA’s fault.  He blames Tenet for giving him bad intel, presents him with the Medal of Freedom, and kicks him to the curb.

Was GWB to blame?  Did he really believe the WMD thing, or was he being mislead by NeoCon true believers who had been pushing for the U.S. to invade Iraq for years?  Difficult to say, since Saddam Hussein, apparently wanted the West to believe he still had WMD’s and was willing to use them.  It was a fatally bad bluff.   Just how much Iraqi oil had to do with the decision to invade remains open to debate.  Anyway, the whole thing turned out to be a real career killer for George Tenet.

It’s been done before, you know.  LBJ gave the same “kiss off” to his Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, after the Secretary told Johnson he should stop carpet bombing and negotiate a peaceful end to the war in Vietnam.  Apparently looking to make a repeat performance, Donald Rumsfeld took us into Iraq, using the war “metrics” thinking championed by McNamara.  LBJ, as we now know, refused to pull out of Vietnam, because he didn’t want to be the first American president to lose a war.  Since McNamara no longer thought the war was winnable, he had to be shown the door.  Presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was a means of ensuring he’d keep his mouth shut, so as not to embarrass Lyndon Johnson.  Which he did.  For a while.  Until he wrote his book and we learned the truth.  But we were talking about oil, which, coincidentally,  is now one of Vietnam’s biggest exports.  That’s not to say it had anything to do with our prolonged involvement there.

It’s being reported by msn money, that PetroChina and Rosneft of Russia, have now surpassed the former world leader, Exxon, in oil production.  And nobody seems to want to talk about the fact that not a single new refinery has been built on U.S. soil since 1976.  Not one.   Since 1976.  Think about it.  Please.  You can have all the crude in the world, you can build a monster pipeline bringing in oil from the Canadian oil sands, but without refineries to turn it into gasoline, supplies will stay where they are, which, in turn,  helps support current price levels at the pump.  Why isn’t Mr. Obama out stumping for more refineries?  Could it be he doesn’t want to alienate environmentalists, even with the economy so dependent on oil and gas production?  Why build a pipeline from Canada, when our refineries are maxed out and no new refineries are being built?

The world, and therefore the U.S. economy, runs on oil.  There are powerful economic and political interests that will do whatever they must to maintain our oil dependency.  However, as the cost of oil and oil products rises, the dominoes begin to fall sending prices shooting up on nearly every consumer good imaginable.   Doesn’t that make some sort of government oversight and control of the oil industry necessary – beyond the federal government’s current insane policy of giving big oil tax breaks in the billions of dollars while they rake in record profits?

It’s kind of like giving someone the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for doing a bad job at the CIA.

Are the real bad guys in the Middle East, or are they on Wall Street and in the board rooms of big oil?  Is it wrong to consider the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel a national emergency, requiring emergency measures?

When it comes to petroleum products the facts can be pretty slippery.   It’s probably a good thing Mr. Dorgan’s book is a novel.

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