The Middle East and your price at the pumpSeptember 30, 2013
What to do about Syria? One thing is to rid ourselves of the remaining vestiges of oil dependence on that part of the world.
In a recent op-ed in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Chris Faulkner points out that Syrian energy output is minimal, but the political volatility puts a Middle Eastern premium onto our gas bills. If we pursue further steps toward energy self-reliance in North America, we could minimize the risks of price volatility and supply disruptions.
Policies being proposed by the energy sector are making more sense than the policies being pursued by our elected officials. Read it all:
Energy independence is the best response to Syria crisis
When an American missile strike in Syria seemed inevitable, oil futures shot up to a two-year high. Just days later, as U.S. officials began considering a diplomatic response, prices fell.
Many analysts have blamed these fluctuations on investor overreaction — Syria provides less than 0.1 percent of the world’s oil. But such assessments are dangerously naïve.
Any intervention in Syria would have impacted America’s access to oil and no one can safely assume there won’t be another Middle East crisis on the horizon.
That’s why the United States must reduce its dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
Syria might not be a major oil producer or exporter, but one of President Bashar Assad’s chief supporters, Iran, holds the world’s fourth-largest proven conventional oil reserves.
More than that, Iran controls the Strait of Hormuz, a shipping lane that’s essential to the transport of roughly 35 percent of all seaborne oil.
There’s no telling what an Iranian response to a U.S. attack on Syria might look like, but if the mullahs even hint at shutting down the Strait, oil prices could jump dramatically.
The ripple effects of a U.S. military action wouldn’t stop there. A strike against Assad’s regime would inflame relations with other oil-rich nations.
The conflict has already worsened sectarian tensions in Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer of crude oil.
Even defusing the Syrian crisis won’t end the civil war there, nor diminish the prospect of future strife, rebellions, or war. Indeed, the Syrian civil war has stoked anew the centuries-old enmity between Islamic sects that threatens to engulf the entire region — a region that holds more than half of the world’s proven conventional oil reserves.
The situation in Syria has made clear why it’s so important for the United States to make certain our energy interests aren’t tied to the volatile politics of the Middle East.
In practice, this means embracing technologies like hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling and projects like the Keystone XL pipeline. These represent historic opportunities for America to gain greater control over our own energy security.
In the case of Keystone XL, a proposed pipeline that would deliver crude from western Canada’s vast oil sands to America’s Gulf Coast, the Obama Administration could dramatically increase the amount of oil we receive from our neighbor to the north.
The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that, once completed, the pipeline would deliver as much as 830,000 barrels of oil a day, or roughly half of what we currently import from the Middle East…