KR: Administration backs off Bush's vow to reduce Mideast oil imports

WASHINGTON - One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally.

(link) Discuss.  Open thread here, but this seemed a good conversation starter to carry over from the thread below.

There are two important components to trustworthiness: personal integrity and competence. President Bush seems to lack both.

"We need an energy bill that encourages consumption."
          -President Bush
Sept. 23, 2002, Trenton, New Jersey, speech

Okay so yesterday we are "addicted to oil" and by doing this and that we can maintain our petrobuzz without having to deal with those sketchy characters in the bad side of town whenever we need a fix. So today, it's just kidding folks, we will still need to venture into the "ghetto" to score.

Really.  How much gasoline has this administration been huffing when they thought up this brilliant addiction analogy??  W and company are as clueless as ever.  Either that or have something up their sleeves.  At this point I cant figure that one out.  Proposing a few hundred million dollars of expenditures on "solutions" that focus mainly non-transportation applications of energy when we continue to expend billions trying to protect access to oil currently being produced shows a real lack of conviction in moving forward with a post petroleum future.  Kicking the oil habit, this most certainly is not.

One thing is for sure.  Come 2025 we WILL be consuming less ME oil.  Heck, we will most likely already be well on our transition out of oil altogether.  Depletion will assure us of that.  The only question of any importance on this subject is: Will the decline be peaceful and orderly or chaotic and abrupt?

The answer is Rovian poltical posturing prior to the elections. They're The Death Party; why do you think they'll promote anything that enhances Life? And most Democrats are no different. At least the latter are somewhat honest and admit the upcoming war with Iran is all about oil.
I read it as an attempt by the admin's economists to explain the fungibility of oil.  It's being taken as "backing off" ... but that might be journos having fun.
Odo --
Yeah, the Energy Sec's point was perfectly correct -- there's no practical way to reduce imports from the Middle East by 75% while keeping everything else the same. And so it's a good thing he pointed this out, though I doubt many people who haven't been paying attention to oil will get the point.

But it's still dishonest for Bush to say this, since it conflates two different problems: oil dependence and the geopolitical misfortune of where we have to get it. It's a very short-sighted way to make a rather modest alternative-energy proposal more palatable to gung-ho SUV-driving jingoists.

By the way, he seems to have stuck to this conflation on the first stop of his most recent road show.

The White House probably got a call from Saudi Arabia after the speech saying "what the hell are you talking about?"
I suspect you are right:

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Wednesday warned that President George W. Bush's proposal to reduce US dependence on Middle Eastern oil could badly jeopardise needed investment in Gulf oil production and refining capacity.

This has been said elsewhere I know (the last SotU address probably), but what would OUR reaction have been if Al Naimi or some Saudi government leader came on their equivalent to the SotU and announced "We are too addicted to American dollars, so we must wean ourselves off them by not sending so much oil their way."

Oh my god, we'd have the 101st airborne raining out of the skies over Riyadh within three hours!

So why is it okay for the USA to announce that we are going to cut down how much oil we buy from them? Are we really so arrogant that we believe they are grudgingly selling us this oil and trying to keep us addicted???

Like most addict/pusher relationship the pusher gets nervous when the addict talks about going cold turkey.  Usually he gives the addict a few free hits to keep him/her going.

Perhaps we can expect a reduction in the oil price or a special deal somewhere along the line.

The things that are said by these people mean nothing.  Their commitments mean nothing.  There is no truth, only spin.  Facts and propaganda are indistinguishable to them.  Their strength is that people listen to what they say and attempt to ascribe meaning to it where none exists, and expect them to behave according to traditional conventions - but that means nothing to them.  Merely by hearing them you are at a disadvantage.

But we as a society are so used to the constant barrage of lies called advertising, that we don't expect anything more - we're not alarmed by it at all.  When you combine this with the lack of education and curiosity of the public, you get situations like this - where the POTUS can stand before the nation and say something preposterous, and then the next day his staff can retract it, and no one will care.

Do not listen, watch the actions instead.

Well, someone's listening.  Look at the charts at the side of this page.

Looks like the oil and gas traders see something positive in all of this.

Beats me if I know what it is!

(This was probably written close to two years ago, and it looks like Russian oil production is topping out about 5% above his upper end estimate, but AM Samsam Bakhtiari has grave doubts about Russia's ability to increase its production.  DuncanK posted a very interesting rate of change plot of Russian production down the way.  It might be a good idea to re-post it here).
Published on 3 May 2004 by Oil & Gas Journal. Archived on 3 May 2004.
World oil production capacity model suggests output peak by 2006-07
by AM Samsam Bakhtiari

Excerpts (regarding Russia):

In the 21st century, Russia has taken over from the North Sea as non-OPEC's new champion. Unlike the North Sea, however, Russia is not a new province but a very mature one. Moreover, it is a region over which the defunct Soviet Union had ridden roughshod, especially during the 1980s (with the battering of the supergiant Samotlor field a case in point).3

During 2003, Russia achieved an average output of 8,460,000 b/d. The latest Wocap base-case scenario for Russia forecasts an oil production plateau of just under 8.5 million b/d during 2004-06.4 Under no Wocap scenario could Russian output edge over the 9 million b/d mark.

This is in stark contrast with many other forecasts, especially those issued by Edinburgh-based consultants Wood Mackenzie (WoodMac), which sees Russia's crude output going from strength to strength before reaching 10.4 million b/d in 2010.5 WoodMac Director Tim Lambert summarized his consultancy's findings on Russia's future oil production: "Russian production has been growing rapidly in recent years, and many observers consider that it should exceed 10 million b/d in 2010. On an unconstrained basisassuming that all required investment was put in placewe believe that production could reach 12 million b/d in 2010 and 2011."6

Both Wocap and WoodMac cannot be right, and undoubtedly one is totally wrong. The question remains which one is wrong.

But the Wocap-WoodMac discrepancy is not the only gap on Russian forecasts. Even in the short term, there is an abyss between the prediction of 2.2% growth in 2004 by Russian experts and the 8.6-10% rise forecasted by international analysts, translating into a difference of 550,000-670,000 b/d by yearend.

However, there is little doubt that Russia will be the oil industry's ultimate supply-side litmust test. And this year's output results might settle the short-term (and maybe even long-term) differences once and for all. And it goes without saying that as fares non-OPEC champion Russia, so will fare the whole of non-OPEC in 2004.

For those who missed it, here's my graph that westexas is referring to:

As I said in the original post, if you extrapolate the last segment of the graph (2004-2005) over the next two years you get decreases in production of about 5% in 2006 (down to about 8.8mbpd) and about 13% in 2007 (down to about 7.8mbpd).

And with the cold temperatures shutting in a lot of oil production (which is highly understandable with high water cuts), this year's decrease does not seem too far-fetched.

And in regard to my "Export Land" model (link below), Russian oil companies have announced cutbacks in oil exports--because of increased domestic demand during the very cold winter this year.

Which speaks volumes to me about the wisdom of markets.
Twilight, your analysis mirrors my own.

Bringing facts and logical arguments to that group is a waste of effort.  Every action from them is calculated to gain them their end goal.  I am convinced by their actions that the ends justify any means.  These include ommission, obfuscation, fear, deception, personal attacks, subject changing, false premises, and even outright lies.  You can spend all you time and energy clarifying all these incorrect points only to have the administration shift the argument once again so that you have to start all over without ever making a dent on there direction or focus.

They are very careful (clearly by design) to craft communication so that it is difficult to cite them in an outright lie within a short time period.  Any time span longer than a week gets considered as "under different circumstances" and previous statements are curiously no longer valid in any rebuttal argument.

This behaviour is not usually acceptable between individuals or businesses because it destroys trust in any future dealings.  But for some reason this has become the dominant political model in the U.S. and we allow it to exist at our peril.

Which speaks volumes on how DC knows exactly where
we are.

Problem-you can only lie for so long until you have to start
believing your own propaganda.

Self Deception, then Confusion and Insanity soon follow.

Note from this map that everything east of Katrina's track is now
under water and the majority west to NO is also under water.

From David Gergen on Lou Dobbs yesterday:
170 miles of NO levees have still not been repaired.

A CAT 3 in May will finally be the wake up call.

Twilight is exactly right.

Physics does not care what the monkey king says. It does not care how you vote or what invisible sky being you beg and worship. It does not care what spiffy brand of clothing or cologne or sneaker you wear. It is just the very fabric of existence.

Keep using the oil and it will go away. Use less, for whatever reason, it will last longer. Use none, it sits.

End of discussion.

I figure the SA comments are Rovian diplomacy in the adminstrations ( SA didn't come thru after the April visit to Crawford)difficulty with high gas prices and recent SA moves re China. Much milder than a warning shot, but you know you need elections over there; then the backing off re dependence. A little dance between junkie & pusher as said above.   The con was in any real plans re dependence; like a mini-mini -mini cardigan.
It looks like peak oil news is squirting out of various places - the president's mouth, and this story:

It gets even stranger.  From the NYT today:

The Energy Department will begin laying off researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the next week or two because of cuts to its budget.

A veteran researcher said the staff had been told that the cuts would be concentrated among researchers in wind and biomass, which includes ethanol. Those are two of the technologies that Mr. Bush cited on Tuesday night as holding the promise to replace part of the nation's oil imports.

Well, I guess that answers any questions about how serious he was about it.
I fail to understand why anyone thinks it odd that the monkey king says one thing then does the opposite. He has been doing this since he stole the vote. No child left behind!! sayeth the monkey. The next day he cuts the programs funding. Tax cuts for everyone---except those who need it.

The list goes on and on and depressingly on. This is why I have lost ALL respect for the retards who call themselves citizens of the United States. They buy into this insane bullshit. Quite frankly we deserve to be overun by Al Quaida.

The only way I will regain an iota of respect for the consensus-trance, monkey-butt-kissing, NASCAR watching, abortion diverted rubes is their suddenly tossing out of office the entire monkey circus, the arrest and torture of the morons who advocated torture and the execution of those idiots who support capital punishment.

Please invisible sky being of your choice, I beseach thee. Please dry up the oil today and let the cull begin.

And what about this is surprising?  Depending on your politics, this administration is into privatizing as many functions as possible, or looting the public treasury on behalf of its large corporate donors.  Private firms will get substantial contracts or tax breaks to do work on renewables; the government labs will be downsized.  Just sayin'.
Good riddance.  NREL was a political sop from day 1 and a huge waste of money to boot.

I looked at these guys in depth a few months ago for personal reasons (my wife wants us to move to the Denver area.)

I could not in good conscience align myself with NREL in any way.

As to Bush's speech, equating switch grass and nuclear power was pure Rovian politics designed to make Bush appear bipartisan.  I was disappointed with that as an engineer but I understand his political reasoning.  

As we all know the Bush administration is well aware of Peak Oil. Statements like cutting ME oil imports by 75% in the future are probably subtile hints to the public that oil won't last forever and things will change. It's a first step in telling people they are in trouble, big big trouble. The power of the message is now off course downplayed, like the words "peak oil" were not mentioned, not to cause immediate social and ecomonic problems.
OK, I'm a designer not a numbers guy.  You want to talk about land use development patterns or human interaction with the built envirnoment great.  Accounting... not so much.  BUT I couldn't help myself after George W's speech and his comment about ME oil being "replaced" by 75 % by 2025.  The word "replaced' is the first indication karl didn't want him to go too far out on a limb.  I think the numbers bear this out as well.  I did a little looking.  I wanted to use current data for annual oil imports but the eia hasn't rounded out 2005 yet and even when they do there's the Katrina factor.  So I picked June 2005 to anylze our oil imports.

Top 5 countries by volume importing oil into the United States in June 2005

  1. Canada 64,652,000 barrels
  2. Mexico 52,379,000 barrels
  3. Saudi Arabia 48,689,000 barrels
  4. Venezuela 47,794,000 barrels
  5. Nigeria 32,659,000 barrels

The only nation in the Middle East on that list is Saudi Arabia.

Now take a look at all the oil the United States imported from the Middle East during that same month- 96,905,000 barrels. This equals only 23% of the oil imported in that month. President Bush wants to replace 75% of ME oil in the next 20 years. That is equivalent to reducing our overall import of oil by only 0.87% per year if you use June '05 as a percentage guide. Wow what a goal.

My real point is that the average American doesn't know where his or her energy comes from. The average American doesn't understand that in the short run an ever-increasing amount of oil will be flowing from the Middle East to the America because we have already peaked in production. The average American is giving little thought to what will happen when the world peaks, because in the long run George Bush may well be right about a reduction in Middle East oil. It won't be because of conservation or technological advances or drilling in the Arctic though. It will happen because of Global Peak Oil. And it won't happen at a measly 0.87% per year. We should be that lucky.

Until then (and probably for some time after) all our government officals will provide in the way of information will come via of smoke and mirrors.

Please run the numbers and point out errors or changes that would affect this anylsis; as if you needed my permission.

Since you are pushing numbers, did you pick up on the link that stated that the US imports 10.062 million barrels a day? If this is true where is the other 10.00+ million barrels a day coming from that the US uses if America has already peaked in production? I had no idea that we were still producing over 10 million barrels a day from the Gulf and other sources. That is a lot of oil.
i knew i should have stuck with writing about urban farming and community-based solutions that emphasize relocalization.  but to answer your question, all i've seen concerning a 10 million bpd comment was something george w said about importing more than half of our daily oil needs.  is that what you're refering too?  i think he tossed out a 10 million barrels number.  i checked back and found the U.S. produced 162,832,000 barrels of oil in June 2005.  we imported 427,860,000 barrels taht month.  that makes for 590,692,000 barrels total "available" to the U.S. in June '05.  That seems about right because if you divide by 30 days in June you get 19,689,733 barrels per day which seems to jive with the "20 million barrels per day used in the U.S." i hear quoted so frequently.  if you check the percentages based on those numbers you find that only 27.6% of that oil was produced in the U.S.?  

i've got these guys
saying we imported 63% of our oil in 2004.  That still leaves me about 9% short based on June 2005 numbers.  Could we have increased our imports by 9% from 2004 to June 2005 or more likely my numbers are a bit outta wack.  anybody know a good place for straight forward info on the percentages of oil imports?  specifically graphs for us visual folks?    

I get the San Jose Mercury News (which contained the article that invoked this thread) delivered every morning.

What the electronic copy of the story does not show you is that the Merc (Knight Ridder, publisher) pretended to be "fair and balanced" by posting a side bar on the same page showing samples of how much oil USA imports per day from various countries.

They used a spin-doctor font with spiralling 2's to tilt the message. They threw in confusing OPEC and Middle East totals in between the countries. Nonetheless, they did, to their credit, post Canada as being the number one source of US imports. I suspect that only sophisticated readers, such as TOD readers, would see through the numbers spin game they pulled off on their side bar.

I didn't bring my copy with me, but if memory serves, the Merc admitted in the right hand side bar that only 42% of US daily imports are from OPEC countries, meaning 58% comes from non-OPEC. They also admitted that only half of OPEC is Middle East (ME). Therefore only about 20% of USA daily imports is from ME and 80% is from non-ME sources.

So DoE chief Bodman says picking on the ME was "purely" for purpose of example --had nothing to do with the terrorism angle, the "us" versus "them" fear factory angle-- right !

I think the NY Times reads TOD. They are strikingly intelligent about the subject. Read this.
From the NYT:

<<Many economists contend that a significant increase in the gasoline tax could lead to sharp changes in American behavior, because it would give consumers strong reasons to drive more efficient vehicles and give manufacturers incentives for innovative cars, including hybrids that run on gasoline and electricity.>>

I agree, and I suggest that we replace the payroll (Social Security + Medicare) tax with a much higher petroleum fuel tax.  

Also from the NYT:
Mr. Bush, like other modern presidents, has talked since the earliest days of his administration about weaning the United States off oil, but mostly by supporting an increase in domestic production.

Elizabeth Bumiller can't form meaningful sentences very well, can she? "Weaning the US off oil" is NOT accomplished by "increasing domestic production."

And yes, it could be said that she just left out the crucial word "imported", but the Freudian slip is just too precious to ignore.

Oh jeez, it keeps going. Now get this from that same NYT article:
But when asked why Mr. Bush had not called on the public to sacrifice to reduce oil consumption, Samuel W. Bodman, the energy secretary, said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday that "many Americans believe they're already sacrificing by paying the prices they're paying for gasoline and heating oil and natural gas."

Guess what, people? You could lessen your "sacrifice" by moderating your unquenchable consumption of oil.
Either the price could go up because of an added tax, or the price goes up because the lack of a serious tax increases consumption, creating higher demand. Either way, the price goes up.
If NYT actually reads TOD, why are they not cluing in the clueless sheeple about Peak Oil? Is this going to be like domestic spying where they let the story ripen on the vine for a few years before telling the truth?

"ALL the news that's fit to print"?


NYT motto should be changed to: "Just the news they let us print".

Can anyone take seriously anything said by any President in any State of the Union address? Come on!
Hey, look.  A reference to this site.

Good words about Stuart's work.

I get a '404' on this link.
If that doesn't work:

The middle of the page.

As I wrote yesterday if you say that in 2025 you will assign only a little share of your oil imports to ME it means that, according to current official reserves data, you are going to consume much less oil than now, because by that time ME will be almost the only big oil exporter.
To put it in another way: suppose that Mr. Bush, together with his staff, is aware that peak oil is looming what would he do ?
  1. Say: "Houston, we have a problem, we are  going out of oil soon", (consequence: immediate market turmoil)or
  2. Say: "We must reduce our dependance from oil and increase the use of alternative renewable energy"?
Maybe Mr. Bush is not turning into a green activist...
By chance (or not ?) 20 years is the reasonable time requested by the Hirsch report to adapt the US economy to the peak of oil production.
I surprises me in the least that Administration flacks would come out and spin things a bit several days after the fact. Indeed, I think the entire text of GWB's most recent State of the Onion speech was nothing new, and given the current state of distress and unease in world and in our own country about the way things are going (vis a vis the economy, the environment, the war, peak oil) one would think that president and his advisors are smoking crytal meth as to tout such palaver on a lobotomised public.
    I would like to share with you something I do whenever the president is speaking. Whenever I see him on television, I turn down the volume on the set, and play the soundtrack of some Warner Brothers cartoon, usually Road Runner. I think Wiley E Coyote captures the personification of GWB fairly well. Particularly, the super genius part, just before an Acme anvil falls on his head.
Subkommander Dred
It's getting so bad they can't even keep their lies straight. Saudi Arabia says they have oil for fifty years and then Bush makes the blunder of speaking the truth. The US will have to reduce it's import from SA 75% over the next twenty years because steep production declines are looming. SA hears this statement and freaks out saying "What are you doing? You are making us look bad and undermining our facade." No wonder the Bushites backed off on that statement the next day. They're like: "Did we say cut back on SA oil imports? No, what we meant was that this relationship will continue for another 100 years, yeah, that's the ticket..."
The administrations position is turning into a real comedy.  When I first read the KR Washinton Bureau story, this one line was so tortured that I couldn't take the story as that serious:

What the president meant, they said in a conference call with reporters, was that alternative fuels could displace an amount of oil imports equivalent to most of what America is expected to import from the Middle East in 2025.

I mean "Equivalent to most of what America is expected to import" ...

Now with the bizarre feedback we're getting from Saudi Arabia it is becoming even more of a comedy.  No one clears SOTU addresses with their own Energy Secretary?  No one thinks to touch bases with the Saudi ambassador?

Is this a sitcom?

No - this is our life, the only one we're going to have.  Just my luck I get to experience life under GW.  I stopped laughing about it some time ago - it's deadly serious.  At least it won't be boring.  Interestingly, in the last several months I have heard the word "revolution" used by other people several times, which is something new I had not heard before.  I'm now keeping track of how many times I hear it.
At first I thought you meant GW Bush. :-)
I did!  But global warming would work too.
I'm doing my part.  I have the Prius.  I have the bicycle(s). I have the Energy Star appliances.  I'm wearing a sweatshirt and the house heater is turned off ...

... but sometimes you can only laugh.

"It's important for Americans to remember that America imports more than 50 percent of its oil -- more than 10 million barrels a day. And the figure is rising. [..]this dependence on foreign oil is a matter of national security. To put it bluntly, sometimes we rely upon energy sources from countries that don't particularly like us." - George W. Bush, February 25, 2002
Unless, as a Nation we make changes in energy use, we'll be buying 75% more oil from the Middle East.  The rest is rhetoric.
Us? What does he mean us? What Bush should say if he wants to be accurate is that the world hates him and his kind. The rest of us are just along for the ride.
Tanker runs aground in Alaska, ... on silt:

What we need is energy from silt.