If you blinked, you missed it. But, you can see it in person this week at your neighborhood gas pump. The Government launched its QE 3, quantitative easing package number 3 a few days ago when it turned on the spigots at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Yes, in case you didn’t know, the US does own SOME hard assets and they are sitting underground in storage units in near the Gulf of Mexico.
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They are pumping out 60 million barrels to make up for lost production in Libya, as they put it. Now, this comes just after the Saudis announced that they are increasing production as well. The result is oil prices plummeting another $6 per barrel last week.
Some facts that you may not know about oil consumption in the US and the strategic oil reserves are in order…just to put things in perspective, something you know that I love to do.
The US consumes 20 million barrels of oil per day today, up from about around 19 million a couple of years ago. The world produces around 84 million barrels of oil per day. China consumes around 7 million barrels per day, double what it did a decade ago.
The SPR holds around 720 million barrels (660 after the current drawdown), which equates to about 33 days supply of oil if all other sources shut down. Well, chances are that all other sources won’t shut down at the same time, so we have enough oil to keep us going for a few years in the worst-case scenario. Oh, you’re thinking that our enemies who supply us the oil could really turn it off and shut us down right? Well, you’d be surprised if you turned off the media and paid some attention to who is and who isn’t sending us oil. Now, I’m certainly not saying that all of our oil suppliers are friends who we’d like to have over for dinner, but I am saying that not all of our suppliers are those who wish us ill.
Here’s a list of them:
Releasing oil from the SPR may not be such a bad idea. We can always replace it, and truth be told, the average cost per barrel of the oil we hold in reserve is around $29 per barrel.
The release of the oil has had its effect, reducing prices at the pump just in time for the holiday driving season. But, what then? Oil demand is increasing worldwide and this “tell” is confirmation that supply, while abundant now, won’t be forever. If you like to speculate, like I do, now may be the time to look at oil companies if a downward move hits them in the months ahead. If there is one certainty, it’s the fact that we are not using less oil…we’re just not using it as quickly as we used to. However, other countries are more than making up for demand growth and that bodes well for oil prices for a long time to come.
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