The Instigator
joe12
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
Thaumaturgy
Con (against)
Winning
16 Points

Should the United States Import or Export oil?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Thaumaturgy
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/21/2012 Category: Economics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,330 times Debate No: 23027
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (6)
Votes (4)

 

joe12

Pro

I am looking for a good debate! and I will start this of by saying I think the U.S would benefit by exporting there oil. I would help bring money to the country and we don't have to have unnecessary wars over it. Some people think that exporting oil from the United states is no good for the environment but I disagree with that also.
Thaumaturgy

Con

I accept the challenge to debate the export of oil from the U.S. in the position against exporting oil from the U.S.

My main mode of approach will be to point out the obvious that the U.S. consumes far more oil on a yearly basis than it produces; meaning that the need to import oil will always be a factor unless we drop our internal demand for oil by more than 60%. At this point we would approximately be able to support our own oil needs as of 2011. This also assumes no growth in our demand (and, since there is little in the way of alternatives to this material in its current usages, this will mean a significant constriction on our economic growth)

Further I will point out that this situation should act as a wake-up call to find alternatives to petroleum which are less ecologically damaging.
Debate Round No. 1
joe12

Pro

The United States then should use the oil it has instead of buying it and having unnecessary wars. If I am not mistaken the United States was planning to have a oil pipeline from Canada to here in the United States, that would have been a great idea. Truthfully the United States should turn to Energy ( Wind turbines, Solar power, Etc.) heck we should also turn to Bio diesel. We could save much more money if we turn to reusable energy.
Thaumaturgy

Con

I would like to thank Joe12 for starting this debate and establishing the primary point of contention in the first round.

According to the BP "StatisticalReview of World Energy 2011" (among the most comprehensive sources of data on energy usage and production available) in 2011 the U.S. produced 7,513,000 barrels per day of oil while consuming 19,148,000 barrels per day (1). As such if the U.S.were have exported its oil it would then have had to import that much more oil.

In the 1950's an energy analyst, M. King Hubbard estimated the U.S. would hit a peak of oil production sometime between 1965 and 1970. By 1971 the U.S. had indeed hit "peak oil" (2). After this time the U.S. has never produced more oil and in fact has steadily produced less.

As to Pro's discussion of the Canadian pipeline as I understand that that would be tar sands brought into and through the U.S. Hardly making it an "exportable" material for the U.S. but rather the U.S. acting as a "transshipment" point.

I heartily agree with Pro's suggestion of increased renewables which is clearly something the U.S. needs to explore moreso. However that is not part of the debate as introduced in the First Round.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SOURCES:
1. BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2011 http://www.bp.com...

2. http://www.energybulletin.net...
Debate Round No. 2
joe12

Pro

I want to thank Thaumaturgy for having some great information.I feel that the U.S must open the fact
that using reusable energy can have a lot of great benifits. This Country has been know as a great country and a unique one at that. We are always the ones ahead in innovation, and many other things. Many Enviromentalist do not like the idea of digging for oil in the United States, do to the dangers it may cause to the enviroment, but what I don't under stand is if other countries dig for oil it will effect the enviroment anyway. So I do believe digging for oil and using it here in the U.S would benifits us in many ways.
1) gas prices don't have to go up so high.
2) It would make us look good as a state.
Thaumaturgy

Con

The ideal of America securing better more environmentally rational energy sources and also decreasing its profligate use of energy is indeed a very good idea.

However sticking with the original point of the debate that the U.S. should export its oil has been shown that, all things being equal, that would be mathematically impossible without decreasing our petroleum consuption by about 60% percent or more.

I would like to move onto a subtext brought out by Pro's most recent argument: the idea of increasing petroleum production in the U.S.

Firstly: most oil is not extracted by "digging" as joe12 states. It is an interesting aspect to some of the first oil used by people was "mined" in that small pits were dug near seeps and the petroleum that collected in them was taken out.

However oil is almost always "drilled" for these days. That being said the petroleum from tar sands and oil shales would be "mined" ("dug") but what this usually is is something called bitumen or kerogen which are heavier, tarry or more solid organic materials than petroleum. When organics are trapped in a rock and the rock buried sufficiently the organic material undergoes various changes and fractionations. The lighter liquid hydrocarbons are often squeezed out of the "Souce" rock (something like a shale, perhaps) leaving behind the heavier less mobile material. The lighter fluid hydrocarbons and gas move out and migrate to a RESERVOIR rock, like a sandstone for example. They hit something that stops their advance (perhaps an overlying bed of shale or similarly less porous, less permeable rock) and then accumulate. The oil wells tap into this reservoir and pump the oil out. In many cases the gas that accumulates with the petroleum migrates to the top of the formation and provides some amount of assistance to getting the oil out of the ground when the oil well is placed.

The petroleum industry in the U.S. is among the most advanced in the world with massive technological advances that have allowed us to be the leaders in oil exploration. Some of the most advanced methods of finding oil have been developed in the U.S. Our expertise helps other countries find their oil, and many other countries have oil to find.

We, however, have less and less of our own oil to drill for. The estimates of any given "oil play" in the U.S. are usually rather low compared to places like Saudi Arabia. We have a great deal of natural gas and coal, but oil we are running out of.

As pointed out earlier the amount we produce has steadily decreased for the past 41 years, but not for lack of trying to find more. That is what is meant by "Peak Oil".

There are some off-shore deposits which we could exploit and indeed we are in many cases. However the U.S. is somewhat hypocritical in that we want our oil but we do not like to endanger our coastlines. Offshore oil got a huge black eye in California when, in 1969, the Santa Barbar oil spill was among the first large scale environmental disasters. And we've seen in the ensuing years other disasters such as the BP DeepHorizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

But we are not shying away from our own oil. We still produce and the Gulf of Mexico is still an active area to drill.

The U.S has very little oil we can easily extract, and those areas where oil can be isolated or stripped out of oil shales represent a much worse environmental alternative to drilling. The energy and water needed to get oil out such formations is prohibitive and the hallmark of energy desperation.
Debate Round No. 3
joe12

Pro

I just want to say that Thaumaturgy has brought up some good arguments and I applaud him. The oil spill that happend in the Gulf of Mexico was very bad and effected many fisher men, and tourist businesses and the wildlife that was in the area, It released 4.9 million barrels of crude oil and it was expected to be 53,000 barrels per day. It is said that tar balls are still washing up on the shores exactly 2 years after the spill. This oil spill will have a great effect on the Gulf for many years. There is ups and downs on importing and exporting and as a country we all must be open to all of them. I am a person that looks for easy ways to do things but I along with all that have the same problem know that something that is being done for the countrie is not always easy but it is of the interest of the U.S
Thaumaturgy

Con

The potential for environmental impact from petroleum production is always present. I think that it is clear that both Pro and I generally agree that this is problematic and something to be avoided. Further it makes sense that these events shoud be used to make us think about re-assessing our "addiction" to fossil fuels.

However, again, the primary point of the debate is whether the U.S. should export its oil. I believe that it is clearly a matter of what the current state of affairs is. Merely suggesting that we export oil without a concommitant decrease in our consumption of oil is, at best, doing nothing of value.

Furthermore, let us assume that the oil we export is not offset by an increase in our imports; let us assume we actuall do decrease our oil dependency by a massive amount. Are we not then only feeding the same types of problems elsewhere in the world?

America has a primary role right now as a "consumer". We are a massive consumer of all things. Gluttonously so. To that end we are the problem right now. Our needs to moderate our appetites are of direct importance to the rest of the world.

Exporting what tiny bit of oil we actually still direct control over will do nothing. It is not an answer unless the point is to make us aware of how little of this depleting natural resource there is and to get us to moderate our intake.
Debate Round No. 4
joe12

Pro

According to the Energy department, For the First time since 1949, the Untied States exported more gasoline, heating oil and diesel fuel last year more then it imported. According to the petroleum supply Monthly report, the U.S refiners exported 439,00 barrels a day more than were imported the year before, in 2010, daily Imports averaged 269,000 barrels. Although imports of crude oil and related products fell 11% last year. 24/7 wall St. wrote " The rise in imports could be the result of the decline in refined products, but more likely is that the imported crude is being refined and the refined products are being exported" this makes pretty good sense to me and I still stand with the fact that exporting could help this Country but truth is we should find better ways to produce energy and better ways to live more efficiently
Thaumaturgy

Con

It is avery interesting point that Pro raises in the final round; and indeed it is true that recently the U.S. began exporting more gasoline than it used. However that appears to be a somewhat distinct point from the original proposition that joe12 made that the U.S. should export it's oil.

Remember: gasoline is a refined product made from oil. America still uses more than twice the amount of oil that it produces, meaning that, mathematically, we must import oil. We do still have a wide variety of crude oil processors who take the oil and produce the lighter hydrocarbons such as gasoline that we use.

In reading through some of the material available in the news about our status as net exporter of gasoline may be due to our status as a manufacturer of gasoline.

But the economics of gasoline "import and export" is more complex than simply "net values" in the U.S. NPR provides some insight into the U.S. as both a gasoline importer and exporter in a recent article. It is pointed out that much of th petroleum produced in the U.S. is refined into gasoline in the South while on the East Coast they are unable to meet demand with the gasoline pipelines coming up from the South, meanwhile the South is able to export some of its gasoline. In the words of the NPR article: "The United States is both an exporter and an importer of gasoline at the same time. It's like we're two different countries." (1)

The business of making gasoline also means that the companies that refine crude into gasoline have a mixture of sources of the input crude oil. A recent example as outlined in an article in the "24/7 Wall Street" (2) explains that some refiners are working to boost their profit margins thusly:

"

Crude at Gulf Coast refineries is priced at the Brent crude import price, no matter where it comes from. Refineries in the US interior are typically able to get the vast majority of their crude at or below domestic the WTI [West Texas Intermediary] crude price. Today, a barrel of Brent costs about $121, and a barrel of WTI costs about $106. That $15 difference in feedstock pricing pays dividends at the refinery. ...

To boost margins at Gulf Coast refineries, Valero and the others are exporting more refined products, both gasoline and the higher-priced diesel fuel. ...

The secret to making a profit in refining these days is for refiners to source crude oil domestically and then sell the refined products to US consumers at prices based on imported oil. Valero can't do that, but Marathon, Tesoro, and HollyFrontier can. ..."

In short the U.S. is still importing huges amounts of CRUDE OIL, but because demand internally in the U.S. for gasoline and other REFINED products of that crude oil have dropped our massive refinery capacity in the U.S. can now start exporting refined product (3).

So in summary, while the U.S. desperately needs to curb its energy consumption, we are, as of now, still a net importer of oil. Our demand inside the U.S. is dropping as gasoline and fuel prices go up, but we still do not produc sufficient oil to merit the idea that we could be a net oil exporter. While we can still export the materials produced from the oil, almost half or more of which we import.

I thank Joe12 for a good debate and am indebted to him for the information about our role as an exporter in 2011 of more gasoline than we imported. This has been very enlightening for me.



SOURCES
1. http://www.npr.org...
2. http://247wallst.com...
3. www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=10&ved=0CIQBEBYwCQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmoney.cnn.com%2F2011%2F12%2F05%2Fnews%2Feconomy%2Fgasoline_export%2Findex.htm&ei=Mm-UT_ePE-iC2gXB4bjxBA&usg=AFQjCNG6On9c8Adj0QF_STw35_T6wvW1ng

Debate Round No. 5
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
Reserves are only "proven" after an oil field is in production. So if production is forbidden, there are no proven reserves. No oil com-any will invest in exploratory drilling if subsequent production is forbidden, so that keeps vast areas out of the proven reserves: much of Alaska, the coasts outside of the western Gulf, 90%of federal lands. Much of the US reservesis in conventional petroleum, now off limits. It's a stupid game to force an agenda.

The US has about a trillion barrels of oil in oil shale. It is expensive to recover; current costs are around $60 per barrel. World oil is $100 per barrel. The expense is in energy, but the energy for recovery can be derived from natural gas or nuclear. The oil is much more valuable.

About a third of the energy in natural gas is "wet gas." Wet gas is a liquid that sells at the price of crude oil. The wet gas is so valuable that the gas component is almost free, which is why gas prices have dropped by 75%. Both oil shale and wet gas products are easy to refine.

You mentioned bitumen, which is coal. Converting coal to liquid fuel is currently too expensive to be competitive, but it's not wildly expensive. South Africa ran on liquified coal for many years. It's not counted in the 50% because it's not economic.

Would you like to negate "The US could be economically self-sufficient in oil." in a debate. Then I can run all the numbers with quantities and costs.
Posted by Thaumaturgy 4 years ago
Thaumaturgy
According to the Dept of Energy EIA the U.S. as of 2009 had 20.5 billion barrels "proven" reserves of crude oil and condensates (1). The most recent value I can find for the total proven world reserves of oil from the DOE EIA 2007 is around 1.3 trillion barrels (2). The latter posting provides a variety of estimates for this time frame, but in general we are looking at U.S. proven reserves of oil (just oil, not gas) at about 2% roughly speaking.

I am unaware of sources of information that put us as high as 50% unless they are taking in all manner of other things (gas+oil?) or maybe unproven reserves or maybe all of the above with "unconventional" sources of oil (oil shale, bitumen, other heavies). But to exploit those is truly a sign of desperation. These are heavier fractions and require significant more energy input to get the petroleum out in a form we can use it in.

This means that the EROI (Energy Return on Investment, or the basis of the energy economic calculus; how much energy do you get out of a source vs how much it took to get the source) is still much higher for conventional crude oil than it is for an unconventional material like oil shale.

According to a variety of sources in this report (3), the EROI of regular crude oil is 10-20 times higher than for oil shale at the "wellhead" and still about 3 times higher for the refined product.

The mere existence of these materials does not mean they are economically material to the debate.

Sources:
1. http://www.eia.gov...

2. http://www.eia.gov...

3. http://www.westernresourceadvocates.org...
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
Obama keeps repeating that the US has 2% of the world's reserves, but uses 20% of the productions. This is flatly false. US government figures put the US as having about 30% of the worlds reserves, and some private estimates run to 50%. It's a policy decision to choose not to produce and export oil and to maintain foreign dependence. President Obama chose to have the US invest in oil development in Brazil, but wants to punish the US industry. It's bizarre and irrational.

The reason peak oil theory failed is that it didn't take into account dramatic new oil field discoveries and technology that makes oil shale recovery practical. the US could be energy independent based upon fossil fuel reserves for well over 100 years, probably closer to 300, if we chose to. Alternative technologies will come along in time, but fracking has made natural gas so cheap that the alternatives are now ten times as expensive.
Posted by Contra 4 years ago
Contra
The US actually now imports only 48% of all the oil it uses now, and more of that comes from Canada than the middle east.
Posted by joe12 4 years ago
joe12
is it worth your time to debate?
Posted by zach12 4 years ago
zach12
I don't think the United States can even fathom exporting more oil than it imports
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by JacobHession 4 years ago
JacobHession
joe12ThaumaturgyTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Con did an excellent job throughout the debate. On the other hand, the Pro was rather weak. The pro constantly changed arguments, and each round the arguments became more and more irrelevant. Con did a good job of staying on task and pointing out that it would be impossible for the US export oil. The vote had to be for the Con.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
joe12ThaumaturgyTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con's claims are profoundly in error.
Vote Placed by blazeratman 4 years ago
blazeratman
joe12ThaumaturgyTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro had a few grammar/spelling issues, also I thought con did well using a vast amount of sources as well as using them effectively
Vote Placed by Travniki 4 years ago
Travniki
joe12ThaumaturgyTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Cons arguments were alot better and more relevant-Pros points about renewable energy don't carry much weight with this resolution