One of the very-wide-of-the-mark arguments made in support of drilling off South Carolina’s beaches is the contention that it will free us from the political influence and economic dominance of Middle Eastern kings and ayatollahs. While the concern has merit, the conclusion ignores a present reality: Gasoline sells for something over $2 per gallon today not only because we have too much petroleum, but also because, as the world’s largest producer, Saudi Arabia manipulates the pricing levers that control the oil market.
American fracking — not my favorite way of polluting aquifers — has proven so successful that, in reprisal, the Saudis have turned up the spigots that gush oil in the Arabian Peninsula. They do this to drive frackers out of business and to avoid losing market share. In so doing, they have flooded world oil markets. For example, between what it produces and what it imports (existing contracts cannot be broken), the United States faces a danger of exhausting our petroleum storage capacity. Each day, import and production deliver one million more gallons of oil than we can consume.
Are the Saudis succeeding? The April 1 issue of USA Today reported that “Falling Oil Prices Cost 100K Jobs,” many in recently rich states that have been the beneficiaries of the new drilling techniques.
Because these dynamic market interactions are so far beyond our control, there is only one point to be made here. That is, that those promoting offshore drilling in the Atlantic as a method for getting out from under Middle Eastern monkeying with our oil supplies need to shift to a more creative argument — one with at least a little credibility. This one won’t hold water.