U.S. President George W. Bush is concerned about high gasoline prices in the USA
U.S. President George W. Bush is concerned about high gasoline prices in the USA. He believes that steps should be taken to reduce dependence of the American economy on oil imports, said the White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan on Wednesday.
Mr. McClellan also said the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Justice are watching closely the latest trends on the domestic gasoline market in order to prevent any speculations and manipulations over the gasoline prices in the USA. The press secretary took the opportunity to call for urgent approval of a bill on new U.S. energy strategy. The bill is being considered by U.S. Congress. According to RIA Novosti news agency which cites American Automobile Association, the gasoline prices in the U.S. have soared 46% since the beginning of this year. A liter of gasoline costs 62 cents these days. The press secretary said that the situation on the world oil market was quite complex partly due to high demand for crude in China and India. "We must strive for more independence in terms of energy", said Mr. McClellan. According to him, President Bush believes that issues relating to "energy supplies diversification" and "reduction of dependence on oil imports" are today's top priority of the U.S. administration.
The White House seems to be taking every opportunity to remind American taxpayers of its ambitious energy independence program. USA is the biggest oil importer at the moment. America imported more than 300 million barrels of crude in January this year. Oil flowing from the so-called "politically unstable" regions accounts for a significant part of America's oil imports. More than 70 million barrels of crude (23%) are supplied by the Persian Gulf states that are quite notorious for their instability. Half of the American oil imports (48%) are OPEC supplies. However, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries officially admitted that the ill-disciplined cartel was unable to effectively control the pricing not only on the world oil market but within the organization as well. Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil producer in the world, has long disregarded the OPEC instructions and regulations. Being the swing producer (the price setter), it has been producing and trading crude in line with the world market demand.
Apart from its dependence on oil imports from the Middle East, America may have to tackle similar problems in other parts of the world. Venezuela accounts for 13% of American oil imports. In the meantime, the government of that small country seems to enjoy causing trouble to the Americans. The president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez is planning to cut oil supplies to the U.S. In particular, he is going to disrupt the supply of cheap Venezuelan oil to USA by selling Citgo, an American oil-processing company which is owned by Venezuela's largest state-controlled oil producer.
Anti-Americanism is on the rise all over the word. U.S. government can appreciate that the policy of relying on foreign energy markets may be brought to a close one of these days. The White House is now ready to clutch at a straw to avoid economic aggravations in the future. The American administration has been concerned about the energy security for quite a while now. Nearly two years ago U.S. Congress passed a legislation aimed at curbing America's dependence on oil imports. The law stipulates that restrictions on mergers of electrical companies in the USA shall be lifted, oil and gas production shall be increased, development of new sources of energy shall be intensified, production of transport ethanol-based fuels shall be increased, and a few other measures shall be taken as well. U.S. government places special emphasis on the development of new sources of energy. President Bush is personally promoting the latest gizmos to the millions of American TV viewers.
Besides, the government is directly supporting the production of nuclear power, an industry that has been comatose until recently (due to the accidents in the USSR and USA). Pravda.Ru already reported on the plans of U.S. government to increase the share of nuclear power production up to 25% in compliance with the national program “Nuclear Energy-2010.”
The Bush administration finally pushed a bill through Congress that would open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling and exploration. Oil production is expected to reach around 1 million bpd. Reserves are estimated in a range from 5 billion to 16 billion barrels of oil. A million barrels is just a drop in the ocean of oil required by the American economy on a daily basis. Its daily needs are estimated at 9-10 million of barrels. The huge estimated oil reserves look very much like a tall story meant to slash the world oil prices. In any case, America's energy policy is a consistent and "breakthrough" program. The policy will ensure dominance of the United States for years to come if it proves to be a success.