Argumentet er på overflaten et tilbud-etterspørselsproblem. Helt til man tenker litt mer over det. Brad Plumer i Washington Post forsøker å ta seg gjennom det.
Oljeproduksjonen i USA er ca 8 millioner fat om dagen. Samlet global produksjon er 90 millioner. Start der.
Newt Gingrich, among others, has suggested that if America just drilled for more oil, we could have $2.50/gallon gasoline. Michael Conathan argues that this isn’t true, noting that drilling has boomed since 2009, but gas prices have still risen:
How can this be? The easy answer is that oil prices are set on a global market, and there are lots of factors that affect prices. Developing countries like China and India are growing, and more of their middle-class consumers are buying cars. That pushes prices up. Oil fields are declining in places like Mexico. That pushes prices up. Tensions in Libya or Iran can prompt traders to prepare for possible supply disruptions by setting oil for later. That pushes prices up.
U.S. production, by contrast, is only a small factor in the global total. Dean Baker lays out the numbers: “U.S. production is roughly 8 million barrels a day, it accounts for less than 9 percent of a world-wide market that is close to 90 million barrels a day. Even if U.S. production could be increased by a third (an almost impossible increase) it would only increase world supply by 3 percent. This would lower the price of oil by 7-8 percent. This is not trivial, but it is not the difference between $2 a gallon gas and $4 a gallon gas.”
Now, there are a few small things the United States could try to do to affect gasoline prices. Congress could shell out money to prevent various gasoline refineries from going bankrupt, a trend that’s causing gas prices to lurch upward in places like Pennsylvania. U.S. diplomats could somehow try to resolve the conflict with Iran, which would calm the market jitters. The White House could order a release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, although analysts say that this wouldn’t have much long-term impact on crude prices.
But, by and large, the main option is the boring, conventional option — the United States could try to pursue policies that make the country less dependent on oil, so that high prices aren’t quite as economically destructive. By and large, America is naturally getting more oil-efficient, and will, presumably, continue to do so once the White House’s new fuel-economy standards start taking effect. But it’s a slow process, and it hasn’t been enough to offset the rise in the price of oil.
(Via Ezra Klein.)