Apr. 1, 2013
This paper will attempt to examine the state of oil and its acquisition, examining where it’s gotten from, and where it will be taken from in the future. This topic is incredibly divisive and important to the modern world, as oil has caused more than one war in the past. With opportunities to drill domestically, both on- and offshore, popping up, the debate has been heating up as of late, and there does not seem to be any let up in that arena. Oil has been produced and consumed at enormous rates, and thus been of huge import, ever since machinery has relied upon it. Oil was first purposely drilled for in America in 1859, and the industry has grown exponentially since then (Oil History, 2013). While America was initially the leader in oil production, but has since been overtaken by two other countries- Russia and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. last lead in production in 2002 (Haney, 2012). This graph represents the amounts produced by the leading companies.
As the graph shows, there are three main suppliers of oil that stand above the rest, with China and Iran also supplying a good amount. There exists a belief that the United States imports most of its oil from the Persian Gulf, specifically Saudi Arabia. The numbers, however, tell a different story. According to Corey Flintoff of npr.com, Canada, surprisingly, has been the single largest exporter oil to the U.S., though Latin America as a whole sends us the most, with the Persian Gulf and African, again surprisingly, countries falling in line behind (Flintoff, 2013). As new technology has arisen, both in the procurement of oil and in unrelated machinery, the demand and consumption of oil have increased exponentially. Most machinery relies on the compound to function, making it of utmost importance to acquire. With the rising amounts of oil drilled, and the fear of there being a growing scarcity, the price has risen with the amount. Just in the past ten years, the cost of one barrel of oil has climbed $60, roughly $27 in 2002 to $87 in 2012 (McMahon, 2012). Even though we are the 3rd highest country in oil production, there has been a major push in the past decade to search and drill for more oil domestically. The main objectives behind this is to keep oil at a lower price, to keep jobs from going overseas, and to lessen dependence on foreign countries. This movement has faced stiff opposition; with those against it voicing their concerns about the effect drilling will have on the surrounding nature and animal life, and those who are looking for overall energy reform. A case in point is the drilling that has been proposed in Alaska. While at its peak, Alaska was providing 25% of the oil produced domestically; there is evidence that an enormously huge amount that has been left untouched (Helman, 2012). The only problem with this is the area that the oil is located in. According to a Forbes report penned by Christopher Helman, who is an advocate for drilling in Alaska, the expanse “teems with hundreds of thousands of caribou, wolves, musk ox, polar and grizzly bears. Offshore swim the bowhead and grey whales” (Helman, 2012). It is mostly because of these animals that people are speaking out in opposition to the proposed plans to drill. Helman believes that if the right precautions are made, then oil companies should have the right to at least test the surrounding areas, both on- and offshore, for oil. One supporter of the other side of the argument, Shane Burley of Bright Hub, states that, “degradation of this kind -drilling- would rip land used by polar bears and around 180 species of birds, not to mention a vast number of migrating animals. Any kind of tampering like that would completely defeat the purpose of Arctic National Wildlife Reserve” (Burley, 2013). The drilling that has been suggested would take place in this reserve. Journalists have…