The Instigator
Pro (for)
8 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
6 Points

The US could be economically self-sufficient in oil.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/24/2012 Category: Economics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,912 times Debate No: 23136
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (18)
Votes (4)




President Obama asserts that the US has 2% of the world's reserves, yet uses 20% of the world's production. He clearly implies that the use could not be energy independent based upon fossil fuels. This debate is about whether or not that is true. I claim that the U.S. has sufficient resources to be self-sufficient in fossil fuels for at least a period of 50 years.


"Economically self-sufficient" means that the reserves are profitably recoverable at market prices of $100 or higher per barrel of crude oil. Oil pries may plummet or soar, but that's beyond the scope of this debate.

Liquid fuel is at issue. We commonly think of crude oil as the source of refined products, but there are some equivalents to crude oil that come into play. Oil shale yields kerogen, which is essentially equivalent to oil. Some natural gas, called "wet gas" contains a liquid component that is equivalent to petroleum in pricing and use. For this debate we include all oil equivalents in "oil."

The is no absolute certainty is how much of a particular source of energy is available and how much it will cost to produce. My burden in this debate is to establish that there is at least a 50-50 chance that the U.S. need for oil could be met at the $100 per barrel price.

There are concerns about the impact of fossil fuels upon global warming. That's not a subject for this debate. Here we are only debating the supplies available at recovery cost.

Debate Rules

I am attaching a set of debate rules as conditions for accepting the debate. I think these are the ordinary debate conventions and contain nothing controversial. The purpose is to make new members reading the debate aware of the conventions.

Both sides agree to the following rules, and that violating the rules is a conduct violation, with anything contrary to the rules to be ignored by readers judging the debate:

DR. 1. The first round of the debate is for acceptance and for clarification of terms and conditions only. I will provide the specific Pro contentions in R2.

DR 2. All arguments must be made in the debate. Evidence may be cited or linked from the debate, but only in support of arguments made in the debate. Arguments made in Comments are to be ignored.

DR 3. Source links or references must be included within the 8000 characters per round limit of the debate. No links or sources in comments.

DR 4. Any term not specifically defined before use is to be taken with the ordinary dictionary definition of the term that best fits the context of the debate.

DR 5. No new arguments shall be made in Round 4. Arguments and evidence may be presented in R4 in rebuttal to any previous argument, but no new arguments.

DR 6. DDO site rules always apply. Neither side may add or modify rules for the debate once the challenge is accepted.


I gladly accept the challenge provided by RoyLatham. I agree with the restriction to oil and oil equivalents. I definitely want to keep coal and dry gas off the table as the U.S. does have a significant reserve of these and likely not what President Obama was referencing in terms of the 2% claim.

I would also ask that coal gasification and liquifaction be removed from contention as these were not delimited in the original challenge.

I would also like to clarify the terms appropriate to the discussion as they are often used in economic geologic parlance.

Using the Society of Petroleum Engineers Petroleum Resource Management System Definitions (1)

RESOURCES: '...all quantities of petroleum naturally occurring on or within the Earth's crust, discovered and undiscovered (recoverable and unrecoverable), plus those quantities already produced. Further, it includes all types of petroleum whether currently considered "conventional" or "unconventional."' (ibid)

RESERVES: '...those quantities of petroleum anticipated to be commercially recoverable by application of development projects to known accumulations from a given date forward under defined conditions. Reserves must further satisfy four criteria: they must be discovered, recoverable, commercial, and remaining (as of the evaluation date) based on
the development project(s) applied. Reserves are further categorized in accordance with the level of certainty associated with the estimates and may be sub-classified based on project maturity and/or characterized by development and production status.'

PROVED RESERVES: '...An incremental category of estimated recoverable volumes associated with a defined degree of uncertainty Proved Reserves are those quantities of petroleum which, by analysis of geoscience and engineering data, can be estimated with reasonable certainty to be commercially recoverable, from a given date forward, from known reservoirs and under defined economic conditions, operating methods, and government regulations. If deterministic methods are used, the term reasonable certainty is intended to express a high degree of confidence that
the quantities will be recovered. If probabilistic methods are used, there should be at least a 90% probability that the quantities actually recovered will equal or exceed the estimate. Often referred to as 1P, also as "Proven."'

An alternative and somewhat more "simple" definition of Proved (Proven) reserves is available here:

Proven Reserves: Quantity of energy sources estimated with reasonable certainty, from the analysis of geologic and engineering data, to be recoverable from well established or known reservoirs with the existing equipment and under the existing operating conditions. Also called measured reserves or proved energy reserves. (2)

However I think details around the subcategories should come from Source #1 (SPE)

I think within the stringence of this we should be able to have a nice discussion.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to Con for accepting my challenge.

To find out if the US could be independent of foreign oil imports, we will need to establish the U.S. requirements for oil, the amount of oil and oil equivalents the US possesses, and the cost of exploiting US resources.

The US consumes 7.3 billion barrels of oil per year

The U.S. consumes about 20 million barrels of oil per day, and consumption has been stable at near that level for about three decades. [1. ]. That corresponds to 7.3 billion barrels per year, or 359 billion barrels over the fifty year period considered in this debate.

Proved reserves are not a useful measure

In order to qualify as "proved reserves" wells must be drilled and oil flowing. Proved reserves are the working inventory of a producing oil field. [2. ]

No one will invest tens of millions of dollars to drill even an exploratory well unless there is the possibility that the discovered oil field will be put into production. The US government keeps vast areas off limits to production, so there are no exploratory wells and no proved reserves. Nonetheless, reasonable estimates can be made based upon seismology and the basic geology of the area. that's how oil companies decide where to drill when they are permitted to drill. In some cases, a few exploratory wells were drilled before the area was declared off limits.

There is a long history relating proved reserves to actual oil recovery. An analyst writing in 2000 computed "Proved oil reserves today are estimated to be fifteen times greater than the original 1948 estimate despite interim production of eleven times this amount." [3.]

So-called "unconventional" sources of oil and oil equivalents are often omitted entirely from calculation of proved reserves. these include natural gas condensate (the liquid in wet gas), tar sands, and oil shale. They produce products that trade at the same price per barrel as conventional crude oil.

Total U.S. reserves are at least 1400 billion barrels

Investor's Business Daily [IBD] summarized the data on U.S. reserves:

"How much recoverable oil does the U.S. have in addition to the 22.3 billion Obama had in mind? Start with the Green River Formation in Wyoming: 1.4 trillion barrels—sixty-two times as much as Obama counts.

After Green River, it’s almost embarrassing to count other sources: 86 billion on the outer continental shelf; 24 billion in the lower 48; 2 billion on Alaska’s north slope; 19 billion in Utah tar sands; 12 billion in ANWR. Then add in oil shale: 800 billion just in Wyoming and neighboring states. As IBD sums it up: “When you include oil shale, the U.S. has 1.4 trillion barrels of technically recoverable oil, according to the Institute for Energy Research, enough to meet all U.S. oil needs for about the next 200 years, without any imports.”

These estimates are almost sure to rise over time—to anywhere from three or four to twenty or twenty-five times as much." [3. above]

The Wikipedia article on oil reserves gives sources for each of the components in the total reserves. [4.]. The Wiki number agree with the IBD numbers except for oil shale, for which they use the Bureau of Land management's estimate of 2175 billion barrels.

As far as can tell, natural gas liquids (NGL) are not included in any of the estimates of reserves cited above. A boom in natural gas production brought NGL production to 860 million barrels today by January of 2011. [5.] Total reserves of US natural gas are estimated at 2,543 trillion cubic feet. Currently, about 28 tcf are produced each year, yielding the 860 million barrels of NGL. [6.] That would put the total reserves of NGL at about 78 billion barrels.

Using 7.3 billion barrels as a year's consumption, the US has 31 years in conventional oil and wet gas plus 191 - 297 years in oil shale. As noted in reference, these numbers are sure to rise over time, by a minimum of a factor of three or four.

Economic production at $100 per barrel

Not all the oil that is recoverable is economically recoverable at $100 per barrel, but it turns out that most of it is.

Saudi Arabia has the lowest production costs in the world, producing crude oil for $4 to $6 per barrel. The most expensive recovery methods, according to production experts at oil production giant Schlumberger has "ultra deepwater, oil shales, oil in arctic areas, and oil derived from other liquids remain economical and attractive to investors at $70 or more per barrel more per barrel." [6.]

Oil shale recovery is expensive because the processing is energy intensive. n 2006, the U.S. Department of Energy put oil shale production as profitable at world market prices of $35 to $54 per barrel, depending on the production method. [7.] In current dollars, that would be about $42 to $65.

In 2010, an industry analyst wrote "Experts say that the average shale oil play requires an oil price of $50/bbl to make a comfortable profit." [8.]

Production techniques for extracting oil from oil shale are still in their infancy. There a parallel with oil extraction from oil sands where production costs dropped 80% in the first decade of development. [7. above]

"“The technical groundwork may be in place for a fundamental shift in oil shale economics,” the Rand Corporation recently declared. “Advances in thermally conductive in-situ conversion may enable shale-derived oil to be competitive with crude oil at prices below $40 per barrel. If this becomes the case, oil shale development may soon occupy a very prominent position in the national energy agenda.” [9. Oil Shale Reserves (2009)]

Why is production now low?

If there are ample reserves economically recoverable at current market prices, it's fair to ask why the U.S. is not producing more of it's own oil. Part of the answer is that oil production is up about 10%, despite production being down on Federal lands and in the Gulf of Mexico. Most of US oil reserves are locked up on Federal lands where drilling is forbidden. Environmental regulation aimed at carbon emissions effectively prohibit oil shale production.

However, it's not all the government's fault. Investors are concerned "In 2008 oil dropped from $144 per barrel to $37 dollars per barrel. Could this ever happen again, and could prices levels like that ever be sustained?" [10.] To make a profit on unconventional sources of oil, ices must be sustained at over about $80 per barrel for long enough to recover the capital costs invested. That takes more than a decade. If prices are sustained at current high levels for a number of years, confidence in sustained prices will build and investment will follow.

If the government leased government lands for exploration and production, the least expensive recovery would go into production first. That would produce a ear tern spurt in US oil production. It would take a decade to get the conventional oil sources into use. Oil shale would, if allowed, catch up as the technology is developed. Government policy could support that buy contracting for future delivery of oil from oil oil shale at the $100 price.

Production from the 31 year supply of conventional oil would overlap that from the 200+ years of oil shale. Keeping in mind that reserves are likely underestimated by at least a factor of three or four, fifty years of oil independence is highly probable.



I concur with Pro’s assessment of utilization of petroleum.

Proved Reserves
I strenuously disagree with Pro’s initial statement that “Proved reserves are not a useful measure” for a couple of reasons:

1. In economic geology of just about any given resource; reserves and resources are delimited with proven reserves being the primary “gold standard” for making economic decisions. As such it is impossible to have a discussion on this topic that does not include this delimiter unless one wishes to avoid the realities of how this type of analysis is done by the professionals. I once again refer Pro to the earlier cited document from the SPE.

2. While I am not a petroleum geologist, I believe it is a mischaracterization of “proven reserves” to say it must be “drilled and oil flowing” as that does not appear to be part of the generally accepted requirements of establishing Proven Reserves. Once again I will refer Pro to the SPE document which contains the following definitions:

“Proved Reserves are those quantities of petroleum which, by analysis of geoscience and engineering data, can be estimated with reasonable certainty to be commercially recoverable, ...” (pg 43, ibid)

While it is most preferable to have exploratory wells with at least well logging in which geophysical instrumentation is lowered into the hole to establish the presence of potentially producing formations, and even more preferable to have “fluid contact”, that is not the only way. The SPE document further goes on:

In the absence of data on fluid contacts, Proved quantities in a reservoir are limited by the lowest known hydrocarbon (LKH) as seen in a well penetration unless otherwise indicated by definitive geoscience, engineering, or performance data. Such definitive information may include pressure gradient analysis and seismic indicators. Seismic data alone may not be sufficient to define fluid contacts for Proved reserves”

As such Pro’s suggestion that a proven reserve is a sort of after-the-factassessment is technically incorrect. Pro himself even acquiesces that seismic data is utilized. The key here is that exploration allows for non-production to develop a proven reserve and even understanding that lateral continuity of the formation from which the oil is produced will count toward evidence for proven reserves (Pg 28, ibid)

Pro points out that “So-called "unconventional" sources of oil and oil equivalents are often omitted entirely from calculation of proved reserves” which is often true because they are not proven reserves. The technology necessary to produce these sources is still under development. It is outside of the range of this debate to include hypotheticals in the assessment of our ability to be self-sufficient in terms of oil. If we are to throw the doors open and include everything why not go for any and all “blue sky” scenarios? In point of fact the petroleum companies have largely ignored the unconventional sources in their estimates for a number of economic reasons for decades.

The utilization of bituminous sources such as tar sands and oil shales are still an “unknown” generally speaking. This speaks directly to the 1.4 trillion barrels of oil estimated recoverable as noted in Pro’s Investor Business Daily article.
A Rand Corporation study from 2005 “Oil Shale Development in the United States” (Bartis et al.) prepared for the US DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory points out some of the limitations in detail.

One point that is clear is that this is still an unproven technology with limitations imposed by as yet to be developed economies and technologies. The Rand study states:

“Oil shale has not been exploited in the United States because the energy industry, after some halting efforts, decided that developing oil shale was economically unviable. Over the past two decades, very little research and development effort has been directed at reducing the costs of surface retorting. For thermally conductive in-situ retorting, costs might be competitive with crude oil priced at less than $30 per barrel, but the technical viability of in-situ retorting will not be fully established for at least six years.”

There aretwo means of extracting the oil from shale: in situ or surface retorting. Surface retorts have significant scale up issues:

“Development of surface retorts that took place during the 1970s and 1980s produced mixed results. Technical viability has been demonstrated, but significant scale-up problems were encountered in building and designing commercial plants.” (ibid)

As of the publication of this report Shell Oil was among the few to look into development of in situ methods which could be better overall but were still under development.

Economic production at $100 per barrel
Pro discusses oil production economics and I have read similar values for the economic level of various forms from which the oil is developed. However Pro notes that production from oil shale is still in its infancy, which is a point brought home in the Rand report cited above. While this is very interesting and worthy of further research and development as it currently stands the oil shale route is still relatively theoretical. Including it at this early stage as a route to oil independence is theoretical at best.

Why is production now low?
Pro develops a case that oil production is currently up in the U.S. but that most of U.S. oil reserves are on Federal land keeping it from being produced. I must quibble with this. According to the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (Dept of the Interior) there are 1,991,352 acres of oil and gas producing leases currently on federal lands. Federal offshore leases include 445,297 additional acres, (1)

Interestingly enough during the last 4 years of the Bush administration the production of oil from federal lands was only 634 million barrels while during only the first 3 years of the Obama administration the production has swelled to 676 million barrels (2) These numbers translate into 33% and 34% of the nation’s oil production respectively. So indeed there is significant amounts of production from Federal Lands and characterizing it as some hidden treasure would not seem to be the most appropriate view.

Pro mentions the environmental regulations as being a prohibition on oil shale production is extremely important. For the U.S. to be self sustaining in terms of oil does these things should be taken into account.

Oil Shale and tar sands production are water intensive processes and often located in regions where water is quite limited (western U.S.) or that have water supplies that are overtaxed and easily damaged. At least one estimate from the GAO states that the production of the oil shale in Colorado could require between 1 and 12 barrels of water per barrel of oil produced with an average of about 5 barrels. (3)

These factor into our ability to “self-sustaining”. What good is our ability to produce our own oil if we have no water to drink? When it becomes a water vs oil battle, water will win. Always.

Ultimately Pro relies on a number of possibilities without firm technological proof points.

“It would take a decade to get the conventional oil sources into use. Oil shale would, if allowed, catch up as the technology is developed.”

Clearly oil shale and other unconventional sources are fraught with questions and uncertainty. The current energy return on investment (EROI) for oil shale development is estimated to be 10 to 20 times less efficient than straight petroleum. And our reliance on “what if” scenarios while ignoring the very real downsides from this equation leave little reason to believe this is a viable option for America to be self sufficient in regards to our oil needs.

Debate Round No. 2


Proven and Total Reserves

An oil company having publicly traded stock must disclose how much oil it has remaining in its oil fields. The value of that oil is used by investors to appraise the value of the company. Con correctly quoted the standard for evaluating proven reserves as only including oil that is available under "with existing equipment and under the existing operating conditions." [Con's ref 2] There is further clarification of "existing operating conditions:"

"Operating conditions includes operational break-even price, regulatory and contractual approvals, of which without these items cannot be classified as proven and are usually classified into probable. Price changes therefore can have a large impact on classification of proven reserves. Regulatory and contractual conditions may change, and also affect proven reserves amount." [11.]

Consequently there are no proven reserves whatsoever on all the government land that is off-limits to leasing, or for which the government effectively prohibits development through environmental restrictions. Areas well known to have large quantities of readily available oil include ANWR, the eastern Gulf, and the California coast. However, since tapping the oil is prohibited there are no proven reserves in any of those places.

"The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is an area of some 1.76 billion acres submerged off the United States' coasts controlled by the federal government. Approximately 97% of the OCS is under federal moratoria preventing any exploration or production of oil and natural gas. The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) estimates that the OCS contains 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Because exploration is prohibited on the vast majority of the OCS, these estimates are primarily based on survey projections and are likely quite conservative. Additionally, about 83% of federal lands onshore containing some 28 billion barrels of oil and 207 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are under moratoria or severely restricted." [12.]

In addition to proven reserves (1P), oil companies are concerned with probable reserves (2P) and possible reserves (3P). "On December 30 2009, recognizing advances in exploration and valuation technology, the SEC allowed 2P probable and 3P possible reserves to be reported, along with 1P proved reserves, though oil companies also have to verify the independence of third party consultants. Since investors view 1P reserves with much greater importance than 2P or 3P reserves, oil companies seek to convert 2P and 3P reserves into 1P reserves." [11, op.cit.] Note that all the reserves are calculated for purposes of evaluating investments. 3P reserves have only a 10% chance of being recovered, but even at the 3P level, nothing made unavailable to industry would be counted.

Also note the requirement that the proven reserve be recoverable "with existing equipment." Most of the time that means the well has been drilled and the oil is flowing, but I'll grant there is little leeway for drilling with available equipment.

Con asserts that proven reserves are "the primary 'gold standard' for making economic decisions." If the economic decision is about valuing oil company securities, then that's true. But for public policy decisions, failing to count oil made unavailable by government or failing to count resources available at higher prices is foolish. A premise of our debate is that we will count the oil that would be available in the United States if it were not placed off-limits and if a $100 per barrel price were sustained.

Oil shale cannot be counted as a proven reserve, or any other kind of reserve, because the federal government only permits research and development of oil shale. "Current oil shale research and development on six federal leases in the West is proceeding despite Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision last month to halt additional research and development leasing for further study." [12.]

I cited official government sources for all of the figures on reserves. I established that the history of estimates is that they are always exceeded by at least a factor of three or four and sometimes by a factor of 25. Con did not claim that any of the number cited were wrong, but only that they should be ignored in favor of the incredibly narrow definition of proven reserves that require that the oil be accessible with existing equipment under existing circumstances.

Production Costs

Con agreed to the recovery cost figures that I cited, excepting for risks associated with oil shale. The government gave two figures for the cost of producing oil from oil shale. The $65 per barrel figure is for surface retorting. The shale is excavated and then heated above ground. That's essentially the method used for recovery from tar sands. It's relatively expensive due to the cost of digging and moving the shale. However, there is no significant economic risk in the method. the target price considered in this debate is $100, so the $65 estimate has substantial margin as to viability.

Current oil shale R&D is focused on in situ methods that do not require digging up the shale. The government figured a $35 price for recovery if that method is perfected. Keep in mind that investors are still worried that oil prices will again plunge to around the $37 level as happened in 2008. Our $100 price assumption obviates that concern for our debate.

Currently about three barrels of water are needed for each barrel of oil recovered from oil shale, though the industry aims to reduce that to one barrel. The cost of the water is figured into the government estimates for the recovery costs. However, we can figure the contingency costs for water supplies for large production volumes. One way to get water is to pump it from Canada, where there are ample supplies. Oil people are good at pumping things. The cost of pumping an acre-foot of water over a 3000 ft mountain is $185. [13.] That's about $2.30. As a check, the Keystone Pipeline is widely estimated to cost about $3 per barrel to transport oil. The purchase price of the water would likely about double that to around $5 or $6 per barrel.

Another way to get water is to recycle water from city sewage systems. Recycled water costs about $500 per acre foot - $6.30 per barrel. [14.] Using recycled water is fairly common where water is expensive. For example, the Palo Verde nuclear generating station in the desert near Phoenix is cooled entirely with recycled water.

Contingent water costs are therefore a maximum of about $20. That would be make oil shale recovery not economically viable for a market price of $37, but at $100 it's not an obstacle. The government estimate for recovery using established surface retorting methods is $65, and that included the cost of the water. Adding $20 would make the cost $85, still well under the $100 limit.

Why is production low?

I claimed there were several factors were several production low: worry about a crash in oil prices, federal lands placed off limits, and effective prohibitions by requirements to limit CO2. Con only addressed the issue of off-limits federal lands. I noted that production is rising sharply on private lands while it is declining on federal lands. That's because rising oil prices and improved technology are making more oil recovery economic on private lands where all the "cheap oil" has been exploited. It's dropping on federal lands because more of it has been placed off-limits.

Sustained prices and removal of restrictions would produce boom.



In Round 3 Roy makes a case for the as-yet unproven supplies currently in areas off limits for exploration. Again this relies on estimations and obviously there is a limitation on how well one can outline the amout of material in place in those areas and how much of it actually is technically recoverable at current oil prices. This is part of the point of the debate no doubt. But what do we think we know about these areas?

The USGS did a reassment of ANWR and found that an estimated 7.7 billion barrels of oil are in the Federal Lands in the 1002 section of ANWR spread across several potential plays.[1] Considering the time it would take to bring this online, by about 2030 when these wells would be up to speed and producing, this would account for less than 2% of the world consumption of oil. Estimates of peak production indicate it would only supply approximately 0.8 million barrels of oil per day to the U.S. Far below our current needs.

The MMS number that Pro discussed in his post ,approximately 86 billion barrels of oil, in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is a reasonable estimate from the data supplied. And indeed a great deal of this is in the Gulf of Mexico (a mean estimate of 44 billion barrels), and obviously the Gulf of Mexico is a very heavily used area for oil development. Unless pro wishes to develop every square inch of real estate in the Gulf of Mexico OCS it would be difficult to imagine an area more utilized for this purpose. And in point of fact the oil companies themselves would probably balk at over-leasing an area.[2]

The BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, a follow on organization after the MMS) notes that since June of 2010 in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the attendant safety requirements in place, there has been 127 new shallow well permits have been granted, 401 new deepwater permits have been granted since February 2011.[3]

The second richest area is the Alaskan OCS at a mean estimate of 26.6 billion barrels of oil. The technical limitations there are obvious and manifest [4] Similarly the offshore activity around Alaska is hardly nonexistent. The activity in terms of offshore minerals management leases in OCS Alaska the data can be found here:

Indeed proven reserves are not yet established there. However estimates indicate that it is far from providing us the “out” we would like.

Pro’s contention that oil shale failure as a reserve because of some sort of Federal resistance is not an indication of some sort of “arbitrary” resistance. The Federal government needs to be attentive to the collateral damage due to oil shale exploration. As I cited in my earlier rebuttal, water resources are extremely fragile in the Western U.S. and so if we rob Peter to pay Paul we may actually be beating Peter to death in order to pay Paul for a less valuable resource. If we damage and deplete fragile water supplies in the Western U.S. it will be a steep price to pay for oil. We can survive with less oil, but we cannot survive with less water.

Also I must point out that the NYTimes citation by Pro includes another explicit comment on the state of the art of oil production from oil shales. It is still “in its infancy” .

Again I will caution about drawing too much comfort from a “developmental” ideal as a source of our energy self sufficiency.

I must disagree with Pro’s statement that there is no significant economic risk in the method used in surface retorting for oil shale. As an example of this Pro states that this is the method used in tar sands extraction. The cost on the surface of extraction (even at less than $100/barrel) is only the tip of the iceberg. Historically cost modeling for fossil fuels has had to be drug kicking and screaming into an assessment of environmental costs. Now strip mining of coal has to factor in the re-establishment of contours after mining as part of the cost. The costs from the removal of tar sands is still developing.

In the case of oil shale I will note that tar sands contain a “lighter” fraction. It is a viscous bitumen whereas oil shale is usually considered to be “kerogen”, a solid organic material. [5] As such the kerogen from oil shales needs to be retorted whereas the bitumen from the tar sands needs hot water to extract it. It is not the same technology, but they do share some similarities.

Pro then proceeds to point out that the costs figured for $35 a barrel to produce oil shale oil is economical in light of the current oil price…but pro also uses a key phrase: “if that method is perfected”. Indeed.

As we all know who work in any sort of R&D setting, the devil is always in the details. This is still a “what if” scenario placed on top of unproven resources as our “lifeline”.

Pro cites the figure that only about 3 barrels of water are needed for each barrel of oil recovered from oil shale. The earlier cited GAO report puts the figure at somewhere between 1 and 12 barrels of water/barrel of oil with an average of 5 barrels of water. That may seem quibbling, but again, in the Western U.S. where many of the current plays are estimated for oil shale this is no small issue.

The Western U.S. feeds largely off of one aquifer (the Ogallala) and almost every surface drainage has been dammed. If the unconventional oil plays were not water-intensive this might be another debate. But the cost of water will increase and the cost will be far harder to accept. The current cost of water may be factored in, but the U.S. government also currently provides agricultural water to famers in the West at a lower cost than its “market value” and as such represents a potential for a severe cost increase .

This potentially moves the debate from one of “cost of oil production” to a battle between oil production vs food production vs water. That is a far more scary path to contemplate.

Pro’s suggestion that: “One way to get water is to pump it from Canada, where there are ample supplies”. Would essentially undercut the concept of self-sufficiency in oil for the U.S. And that is what this entire debate is about.

In my last post Pro was correct in that I did not address the issues of CO2 for fear of taking debate off onto a very different path, but I am glad to include this. America’s ability to become self-sustaining by relying on the still “infant” technology of oil shale production carries with it a very well known danger that will probably represent the single biggest and most devastating aspect to this idea of petroleum self-sufficiency, especially in light of the lengths to which we will need to resort to in using unconventional sources such as oil shale.

General environmental, CO2 and global climate change will sap our will to exploit this resource. The EU Science Advisory Council in 2007 published a report on oil shale recovery based on the experience in Estonia. In that report the ecological downsides are quite sobering including not only the waste rock and its associated leachate as a threat to water supplies (again, coming back to endangering fragile water supplies such as what we have in the western U.S. as a serious concern), but also CO2 emissions. [6]

But the U.S. still thinks only in terms of the more general impact of CO2. CO2 emissions from the generation of power using oil shale fuels is still among the highest of energy sources (ibid). CO2 emissions from oil shale development are as much as 25% to 75% higher than conventional petroleum sources. [7] Without getting into the the politics of global warming, I suspect in the very near term this will be the single biggest contributor to our inability to be “self sufficient” in terms of oil if this is the material we are going to exploit to achieve this goal.

Debate Round No. 3


The debate is only about economic self-sufficiency

This debate is narrowly focused on whether the U.S. could be self-sufficient on oil for 50 years with oil prices at $100 per barrel. Perhaps global warming will kill us all, but that's not an issue here. Nor is the issue issue whether the US can be self-sufficient in water. The issue is solely about whether the US could be self-sufficient in oil, if oil were $100 per barrel.

We agreed that the oil requirement for the US for 50 years is about 7.3 billion barrels per year.

Data provided by U.S. government sources is that the US possesses known
conventional oil rresources totalling 31 years supply of . Historical data shows that estimates of known reserves are always very low. The observed ratio of known to unknown is up to 25, but I have only claimed a factor of three. It's logical that not all resources are known, and specially so for the United States where large areas have been of limits to exploration for a very long time. That puts conventional supplies at 93 years of self-sufficiency.

Con argues that we do not know with certainty exactly how much conventional oil is available, and indeed we do not know with certainty. However, the challenge specified "My burden in this debate is to establish that there is at least a 50-50 chance that the U.S. need for oil could be met at the $100 per barrel price" I have been throughout conservative in the resource estimates provided, relying on government data.

Con provided no alternative sources with lower estimates. In the case of oil shale, the Bureau of Land Management, as I cited, estimates that there are 2175 billion barrels of oil recoverable from oil shale. I've used a more conservative estimate from another government source that it is 1400 billion barrels. The lower estimate is 194 years supply.

Con started out arguing that only pr oven reserves should be counted. I provided evidence that proven reserves are only relevant to the claims made to investors by oil companies, and that areas made off-limits by either leasing restrictions or by regulations do not count. No one, and significantly no the government itself, believes that proven reserves are a meaningful measure of total reserves. Con seems to have dropped the claim at this point.

Oil shale recovery costs

I provided government estimates that oil shale can be recovered for about $65 per barrel using surface retorting. Con provided no source that $65 is a bad estimate; he only argued that the technology is not well-established. The technology is at the stage of development and demonstration projects, mostly aimed at developing in situ techniques that could drive the cost as low as $25 per barrel.

The desire to achieve lower costs does not invalidate viability at $65 per barrel. It shows that $100 per barrel is a high price, and that oil companies are still worried about a price collapse to $37 as occurred in 2008. That's the reason they want to get costs down to $25 or $35. In situ processing also requires less water and sequesters most of the carbon dioxide produced in the processing. while there are strong incentives to perfect in situ extraction, they are not required to meet the $100 cost target assumed for the debate.

Con argues that the restrictions placed on oil shale are reasonable, based upon the danger to water supplies and fears of global pollution. Whether the government restrictions are sound or not, they have been ruled out as an issue for the debate. The debate is solely about the resources available and the cost of recovery. My only point was that Con did not contest that the restrictions I cited were in fact in place. Whether reasonable or not, restrictions prevent all development of oil shale on federal or private lands, except for R&D.

Even though I don't need to address the issue, I'll note the that the US uses about 19% of the world's oil, and the fraction is decreasing. Whether oil is imported or domestic makes no difference with respect to the CO2 produced when the oil is consumed. Con claims that the small amount of CO2 produced during recovery would increase by 25% to 75%. Con's source admits, "Replacing the retorting heat source with a near zero-carbon energy source would bring emissions from oil shale-derived fuels quite near to those from conventional oil production, as the CO2 generation from mineral and kerogen reactions is less than 10% of the total." Nuclear power is a zero carbon emissions source, so that would be a good solution if it is a real concern.

Con worries that competition for water might endanger food supplies. Environmentalists have no concern for endangering food supplies by cutting off water supplies. They are destroying dams on the Klamath River that will destroy agriculture in the area. [15.]

Environmentalists argue it is more important to restore traditional Native American salmon fisheries than to grow large amounts of food. They cut off water to a large food growing region in central California to preserve a minnow-like fish. [16.] Perhaps they are right that food should be a low priority. Whether it is or not is a subject for a separate debate. This debate is about the economics. Oil shale production can economically use recycled water; food production cannot.

Water costs for oil shale recovery

The cost of water is figured into the oil shale cost estimates. Con questions whether we can rely upon Canadians to sell water to the US. I don't have any concern with depending on Canada for water.
Canadians do not fund terrorists, and Canada is the number one US trading partner and I figured a good price for the water. Our debate is about whether the US could be self-sufficient in oil if we chose to.

I also suggested the use of recycled water which is available at acceptable cost. and Con did not respond. We also have an unlimited supply of desalinated water, which makes it ultimately only a cost issue.

Con argues that we must figure the collateral damage from pollution. However, that's not a self-sufficiency issue. Oil obtained from the Middle East or Nigeria or Venezuela is not less polluting than oil obtained domestically. That's why it was reasonable to rule the issue out for this debate. In any case, reasonable or not, it was ruled out.

Con argues that there are lots of leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Sure, but the entire Eastern Gulf is off limits. "Interior Sec. Ken Salazar said on Dec. 1 that Atlantic Ocean and eastern Gulf of Mexico areas will be excluded from the 2012-17 Outer Continental Shelf 5-year leasing program." [17.] The only drilling in the Eastern Gulf is being done by China in Cuban waters. Con also links to a government page that links to another page that says that there is plan for leasing in the Arctic coast, but it's now subject to a moratorium. A gave accurate sources for the areas off-limits and that stands.

That some areas are leased is not in question. Our debate would be no different if all government restrictions were now lifted. We would still have to debate how much oil is available at what price.


The U.S. has huge reserves of oil and oil equavalents, and $100 per barrel is a very high price relative to the costs of recovery. We have about 90 year's supply of conventional oil, so 50 years could likely be obtained without tapping oil shale. We have at least 200 years worth of oil shale, so 50 years supply could be had from a quarter of it. In practice, tapping a quarter of the reserves of conventional oil and an eighth of oil shale would provide the 50 year supply with high confidence.



Roy has raised a very interesting and very important topic with this debate. It lies at the heart of our ability as nation to survive. The 20th and 21st centuries are marked by our stewardship of energy.

Pro initially framed the debate not in the broad sense of energy self-sufficiency but rather the specific topic of self sufficiency with regards to oil. First one must remember that the US has never produced as much oil as it did in 1971. In the ensuing 41 years of American history we have produced less and less oil from our own deposits. This despite our pioneering work in advanced seismic and well log analysis, exploration and exploitation. Our technological prowess is not producing more for us.

And this is what we have wrought:

A stead decline in production. Even during various oil shocks. In the early 1970's we were facing gas lines and stations rationing petroleum.

I must continue to take strong exception to Roy's characterization of "proven reserves" as "only releveant to the claims made to investors". Proven reserves lie at the heart of energy (and any resource) planning. It plays a part in valuation of companies for investors but that is hardly the only application of this concept. Strategic understanding of our resource amounts is critical to the country.

Roy spent a great deal of time bolstering his argument of self-sufficiency by relying on unconventional oil sources such as oil shale. Both he and I found reference after reference that referred to the technology of the extraction of these materials as "in its infancy". This is a serious issue when assessing our ability to achieve oil self sufficiency. It cannot be understated that the professionals who are dealing with this material themselves point out the fact that this is still a new technology under development.

Roy also wishes to decouple the "water issue" since, as he notes, it is not part of "oil self-sufficiency", however when he raised the issue of unconventional oil sources such as oil shale he implicitly opened the door on this topic. Since these materials cannot be recovered without the extensive use of water, water becomes a critical aspect to the discussion. Roy goes so far as to recommend importing water from Canada. That, unfortuantely, means we are not oil self-sufficienty. If we cannot get the oil without water and we have to get the water from a neighboring country then we cannot claim the oil as part of our "self-sufficiency".

It is indeed possible that some recycled water can be used in this, but again, so much of this is theoretical and not yet proven. Can we say with any certainty that piling "possible scenario" on top of possible scenario will result in a clear path to self sufficiency? I doubt it.

In addition while water cost may be factored in, I question if the true cost is really being factored in. How many millions of dollars are we now spending to remediate acid mine drainage for coal that was economical at the time of mining but now carries a heavy burden decades later? What if we factor in the real possibility of impacting limited water supplies. There is no debate whatsoever that water west of the 100th meridian of longitude in the U.S. is limited. The battles over the stewardship of water in the west go back over 100 years to the earliest days of settlements in Los Angeles. This would make for an interesting debate in and of itself. But it is hardly controversial that many of the oil shale plays are firmly planted in areas of limited water. Where populations exist on one aquifer. Damage that and you run the real risk of finding a cost much greater than anyone ever originally could have envisioned.

The issue of "access" is another reservoir of "doubt" for Pro's side. It is the hope of things unseen. The U.S. government is acting as a steward for our public lands. Are we as a nation truly so desperate for oil that we must destroy all our lands to find every last drop? This might (and I stress "might") lead to something akin to a path to self sufficiency, but it is the act of desperation and ignores the reality of how lands are parcelled out.

Some of the largest fields in American history were inefficiently used early on before oil companies realized there should be a rational spacing of wells (there are extensive discussions on optimum spacing of wells in a given pool). The idea of parceling the land is not simply a liberal concept, but more akin to resource management. However I will freely grant that some lands we have determined are simply too fragile to risk. ANWR is a great example. It appears to be of limited value to our "self-sufficiency" and exploiting it would only harm a sensitive area that likely could never recover if something went truly bad.

This brings me to my summary. And for this I would like to paint an analogy, so please bear with.

America is very much like a rich and powerful business executive. For fun the executive might spend a little money to buy some heroin. He only does it occasionally and he can easily afford high quality stuff. Then as time goes on the hunger grows to an addiction. He can still handle the cost as he has a 6 figure income.

We've all seen the documentaries and movies: ultimately the cost of the habit grows. The executive can do without his Rolex and it is cashed in for more of his drug. The story plays out the same. Loss of the income, loss of the trappings of wealth until the only thing left is the need to score the junk. Family, friends, relations, destroyed in order to get the junk. But the junkie is able to supply himself with his fix each day. Running countless 'schemes' which he sells as just around the corner. This is "self-sufficiency". When the junkie is boosting car radios and digging through dumpsters to find used needles, he is being "self-sufficient". Destroying his entire life in service of the addiction.

This seems hyperbolic, I realize, but when we are considering the following to provide a sense of "self-sufficiency":

1. Giving up water to get oil (a MORE valuable resource traded for a LESS valuable resource)
2. Grinding nature to dust in order to get the oil
3. Relying on hopes and dreams of unproven sources and undeveloped technology to get the oil
4. Going after lower and lower quality material at higher and higher costs (the eroi of the oil shales)

are we really that different from the junkie listed above? Are we any different from the slave to his addiction who gets up in the pre-dawn hours digging through trash cans and dirty streets for an angry fix?

I contend that this is not self-sufficiency but an indication of our failure in controlling our addiction and will ultimately end up being nothing like "self-sufficiency".

Debate Round No. 4
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by K.GKevinGeary 6 years ago
good read.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
It is the creationist's job in a debate to find reasons to doubt all the evidence that is offered that dates the earth. there is never an independent scientific source that claims "radiometric dating shows the earth to be 6000 years old." Nor is there any other evidence confirming the position held. It's all about carving enough doubt to alow rationalization of the preconceived notion.

There is no "independent study by the XYZ Institute that shows that there is probbaly less than a trillion barrels of oil in US oil shale." similarly, there is no objective data on production costs or water costs that opposes the positions taken by government agencies an everyone else in the business. The similarity is that believers "know" what the answer is, so it only takes a small amount of doubt in what the evryone else believes to validate the conclusion desired.

It's possible you were posturing for purposes of the debate. If so, that's a legitimate tactic. Nonetheless, it represents a very common line of argument in which doubt is claimed to conquer all the real evidence. It isn't a religious debate, it is a religious type of argument in which belief dominates all.

I'm up for debates on nuclear power, the economics of solar or windmills, .... whatever.
Posted by Thaumaturgy 6 years ago
The debate was not just about the resources being there. It was explicitly about whether the US had at least a 50% chance of being self sufficient in oil. You then relied on estimates of unproven reserves and still infant technology. My goal was to undercut the assurity of that be constant reference to legitimate petroleum, geologic and resource concepts that are standard in the industry. While I only have a brief stint as a resource and reserve analyst for a fossil fuel company I think you efforts to limit the importance of the standard terminology of "provenreserves" was the key take away.

I must also point out that at no time did I say that water was more "expensive" than oil. I went out of my way to phrase it in terms of water's value. Remember, the city of Los Angeles was busy gobbling up neighbors water rights before the car was common or plastics invented . Water resources west of the 100th meridian are limited by any metric. I recommend a great book called "Cadillac Desert" on this topic. It covers the history of water rights here in the west.

My position is hardly comparable to creationists, nor is it religious. I was merely tasked with negating you surety of self sufficiency which I underook by pointing out the highly questionable assumptions underlying it. Resources are not reserves. Water is more important than oil. Technology that is still under development often sounds better than it ultimately turns out to be. And relying on some sort of reservoir of doubt about some hidden resource does not equate to being a bird in the hand.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
The debate was solely about the resources being there. You cited nothing contrary.

What you have is the type of argument use by Young Earth Creationists. You know what the answer is. The problem is how to arrive at the answer despite every bit of scientific evidence available being to the contrary. The solution to rationalizing the answer is to cast general doubt upon the whole process of deriving evidence. The evidence is that water is eight cents a barrel, but we should assume that it is really a lot more expensive than oil. The government took most of the most promising oil lands off the market right after World War I and put it in reserve, but now no oil company has it on their books as proven, we should ignore it.

You'll debate the numbers once they become available, but if the reserves are forever kept off limits then there will never be any numbers. Natural gas proves conclusively that technology can vastly increase production, but, hey, that's inconvenient we'll just ignore it. The numbers are on the books for the price of water and many other things, but that just has t be ignored until such time as they can be disproved. It's all nonsense.

The technology to pipe water is well-proved. It's being done. Large amounts of water recycling is being done; I cited Palo Verde. Desalinization is being one. you argument is akin to supposing that building another railroad somewhere is speculative because even though it's well-established, it hasn't been done in a particular location.

I do not for a moment doubt your intelligence. You have a religious belief and you are harnessing your knowledge and intelligence to rationalize the belief. Milton Friedman and Noam Chomsky are both brilliant men, but we know one of them is completely wrong about economics. That's why there should be debate. I'm not too keen on the prospects of scientists doing engineering, or the reverse, but it's a free country.
Posted by Thaumaturgy 6 years ago
Roy I must disagree with your claim that "At no time in the debate did I even say we should be self-sufficient in oil."

This is the quote from your own debate point:

"He clearly implies that the use could not be energy independent based upon fossil fuels. This debate is about whether or not that is true. I claim that the U.S. has sufficient resources to be self-sufficient in fossil fuels for at least a period of 50 years"

While you wish to characterize my points as "unsubstantiated fears" is grossly incorrect. I merely pointed out the weakness of your estimate of a 50% chance of success by pointing out your unsubstantiated estimates. Your repeated reliance on unproven resources was the point of my debate.

The reason I did not debate more of the values you posted was because those are the values I too have read. I disagree with your contention because you relied heavily on unproven resources, undeveloped technology and worst of all water resources in an area that is water shy.

I will gladly debate the numbers at such time as alternative numbers are available. As it is America has not been self sufficient in oil for decades.

Please understand that I am a realist as well and I understand this material will be exploited (believe it or not I did my masters and PhD inorganic geochemistry, so this stuff is interesting to me in a strange sense). One of my former coworkers from a previous job is actively involved in developing chemical additives for the tar sands. I am not an idiot. My goal was to point out what I peceived in your original contention based on how resources are exploited and the nature of the estimates.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
The point of self-sufficiency is *not* to avoid dependence on the rest of the world. At no time in the debate did I even say we should be self-sufficient in oil. There's no problem buying oil from Canada. What it's about is the money. Once we know that the US could supply all we need at $100 a barrel, the question is why we should send the money overseas rather than keep it here. You'll note that Saudi Arabia not only provides for it's own needs, it exports. It does so solely to get the money. why is the concept so elusive.

If buying $2 worth of water from Canada enables a $35 per barrel profit from the oil recovered, you don't need to search for secret reasons as to why it's a good deal. this is so fundamental, only a leftist needs to have it explained.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
the argument that water is more valuable than oil is nonsense. Food, water, and air are necessary for life, but how much they are wort is determined by supply and demand. Water is infinitely recyclable, so there is no issue other than price. The city of Tampa has the largest desiliization facility in the U.S.; there are lots of giant facilities in the Middle East. It's not in the least bit unknown. Desalinated water is about twice the cost of reservoir capture. That's all there is to it.

Environmentalists hate numbers with a passion. New EPA regulations will cost $7 trillion to prevent, if all the claims are true, 0.001 degree of global warming. That's never going to be advertised, because it is such obvious nonsense.

Refusing to talk numbers, but instead invoking unsubstantiated fears is basically a religious type of argument. Demons must be called up to make the case since no realistic case can be made.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
Yes, I live n California. It's not true that all the dams have been built. You can research the Auburn Dam, for example. What has happened is that environmentalist have blocked all new attempts and are in the process of having existing dams destroyed. The Aubirn Dam was stopped on grounds of its flooding hiking areas.

In the debate I linked the story of the Klamath River dams, soon to be destroyed so that Native Americans can return to tribal ways of salmon fishing. That will end farming and remove the water supply for 300,000 people. If you travel I-5 you'll see the signs for the "Government Created Dustbowl" where farming has been destroyed to avoid inconvenience to the Delta Smelt. The Delta Smelt is a minnow that would not be wiped out, but has absolute preference so that it not be inconvenienced in any way.

Activists arw now at work to take down the Hetch Hetchy Dam. the reservoir supplies San Francisco and part of the Bay area.

Morrow Bay and Marin county have major desalinization plants. California has about four times the electric prices of neighboring states, so that is a problem in using the energy intensive technology -- however, high electric prices are purely a choice made by environmentalists. Using desalinated water on the coasts would probably at least double the price of water, but when home mortgage payments are $3000 a month, adding $100 a month would be trivial. the reason it isn't done is to limit population. That benefits existing owners by keeping out competition for property, and keeping their water prices low.

California agriculture uses about 75% of the water to produce about 4% of the state economy. The solution is to let farmers sell their water rights on the free market.

California is now in its death throws. Half the industry has left, and the new cap-and-trade system will get rid of most of the rest. About two million citizens have left, replaced by about 1.5 million illegals. The state can rebuild, but after collaps
Posted by Thaumaturgy 6 years ago
Water is a very interesting topic in this debate and would make for a good set of future debates. I live in California as I suspect you might? But I live in SoCal were water is scarce. One of the reasons they originally built San Onofre nuke plant here was in hopes of desalinating water aling with producing electricity down here. But that isn' enough. Recently a desalinization plant was being discussed in Carlsbad here. There are environmental pitfalls associated with that. In addition SoCal gets much of its water from the Colorado River watershed which is contractually split among several states here especially AZ. What is left over is, by treaty, owed to Mexico and what we give them isn't great stuff.

Water prices are so high here we had to pull out our yard and go with xeriscaping. The city I live in put mandatory decreases on personal water use by 25%.

California's Central Valley is a major ag center but largely artificially. The BLM has dammed about every river out here, provides the water at below market prices and those aquifers currently ised for irrigation are being depleted quickly.

Water, by definition, is far more valuable than oil. There is no other way to lok at it. How it is priced is questionable, but its inherent value is far beyond oil.
Posted by Thaumaturgy 6 years ago
I substantively disputed the reliance on non proven reserves. I also noted that since these unconventional sources were extremely water intensive that it is, by definition, NOT self sufficiency to rely on Canada to provide us with the means to self sufficiency.

I also noted that you originally put only a 50% chance of success on this so the burdn for me was to call into question your foundational assumptions.

I disputed the estimates of reserves. But I chose to do so by using the rigor that we used when I was briefly doing reserve and resource estimates for a coal company. I repeatedly attempted to keep the discussion on a standard resource/reserve footing as we did back in economic geology back in grad school.

These are all quite valid approaches to making the case for a possible route to self sufficiency, but not, in my opinion, to a successful arrival at that point.

Your sources were, when not wikipedia, usually of good quality, and since I relied almost exclusively on petroleum and minerals resource groups I felt mine were also of good quality. After getting degrees in geology I pride myself somewhat on knowing where to look and the terminology to use for resource information.

Most of the cost estimates you supplied did align with the resources I had read, so my only option was to call into question the surety of the final estimate you supplied of a 50% or better chance of success.

This I did by pointing out:

1. Your almost immediate reliance on unproven resources and your mischaracterization of proven reserves
2. Your very quick move to unconventional oil sources which both your and my references referred to as still in development for exploitation
3. You further reliance on the as yet unexplored bits of our continent in hopes of making up for any potential shortfall should any of the other questionable sources.

Ultimately your use of the 50% estimate is what is called into question. And I felt I provided evidence against that estimate
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Great debate. Cons water point won the day. Never was refuted nor fully countered. Pro negotiated/conceded much of that point. The other argunments where refuted so the last argunment, cons, stood therefore he wins.
Vote Placed by awesomeness 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: pro clearly had better contentions and therefor won this debate
Vote Placed by FourTrouble 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Impressive debate. My vote came down to how we interpret "economically self-sufficient in oil" and how water costs are factored into the equations. Roy weakly implies that, if we "chose" to, we would not need to depend on Canada for water. But the problem is that Roy explicitly states he has no problem relying on Canada for water. As small an issue as that is, I felt like Roy conceded too much ground with that statement, as it acknowledges the serious threat of Con's water-cost point.
Vote Placed by Koopin 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I am now undecided on the matter. Both made convincing arguments, but Pro made me consider things I've never given much thought to. Overall a nice read.