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calendar   Friday - June 24, 2011

Kncok Off The BS

We have plenty of reasons to be unhappy with Obama’s opening the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to supply half the missing Libyan oil supply in accordance with the IEA’s decision. They demanded 60 million barrels worth, and Obama is going to come through with 30 million. I hope and pray that that oil is NOT going to be exported, and instead used right here in the USA. As it is, it replaces just over 6 months of all the crude we import from Libya, which is not very much. Call it half a VLCC tanker ship full per week, when the USA uses 10 VLCC tankers full per day. Rail all you want about this being an artificial impact on the commodity price or whatever. I agree. Get cranky and storm about how this is nothing more than political glad-handling; a desperate move to boost his flagging poll numbers. I agree.

But let’s not make up lies out of whole cloth about it. We don’t need to.

I am not familiar with the Washington Examiner. I don’t know if they are the local equivalent of an honest and honorable New York Times, or if their usual headlines feature Bat Boy and the Ghost of Elvis. That doesn’t matter. Instapundit links to an article they printed wherein Jim Adam, president and CEO of the Offshore Marine Service Association, is all upset that Obama is willing to let the Jones Act slide if needed to move that crude.

The Jones Act, as you know, is an old piece of protectionist legislation that demands that American ships and American crews ply the seas up and down our coastlines. For safety reasons, of course, since those foreigners never bother to build good ships or equip them properly. Whatever. It’s law, and it was this law that kept those foreign flagged cleaner ships idling when we had the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. President Bush waived it temporarily after Katrina so that supplies and aid could be brought in faster. Obama is willing to let it go to help move the Strategic Petroleum Reserves. And that has Jim Adam all upset.

Obama resolutely refused last year to waive the Jones Act in order to allow the DEME and other equipment offered by foreign nations to be brought to the Deepwater Horizon cleanup. An operation that could have been completed in four months instead stretched into nearly a year.

But this week we have learned that under certain well-defined conditions Obama is more than willing to set aside his reservations about waiving the Jones Act. And those conditions have mainly to do with the fact Obama wants to be re-elected in 2012.

Among the biggest obstacles to Obama’s re-election effort is the prospect that gas will still be around $4 a gallon next year. So what does Obama do? Not only does he authorize using 30 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, he waives the Jones Act to allow foreign crewed ships to deliver the SPR oil to U.S. ports.

That decision left Jim Adam, president and CEO of the Offshore Marine Service Association, bewildered and angry. He issued this statement:

It is mind-boggling that the president would jeopardize national security by letting foreign owned and operated ships transport oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve to and from American ports. (Ironically, the President had earlier cited Libyan unrest as a national security emergency in order to tap those reserves.)

I would think he’d know better. I would think that journalists, especially those from the Gulf States, would know better. This is a red herring, a species I didn’t know swam in the Gulf. And it took me all of two minutes to figure it out. In other words, he’s lying out his ass.

Fairly Reasonable Proof:
The US Government created the Strategic Petroleum Reserves back in the mid-70s, after the great a-rab Oil Embargo. They built them under Texas and Louisiana by hollowing out salt domes. Remember, back then we were not only protecting ourselves against crazy OPEC, we were still Fighting Communism, and oil is as strategic an asset as there can be. So the government built a bunch of gigantic self-sealing holes deep underground. And then they built miles and miles of pipeline to a good number of the local refineries. Underground, well protected, high volume pipeline. Just in case the Russians or the Chicoms should start sinking our tankers in the Gulf during a war. That’s what the Strategic Reserve is for. It’s not for topping off your Camry. It’s to make sure our jets and our tanks have the fuel they need to blast the Reds. It’s for war. And real, end-of-days national emergencies. Like Obama’s poll numbers getting too low. Heck, if there was another blue dress in the White House we’d be bombing Bosnia again.

From the Department of Energy:

imageStorage locations along the Gulf Coast were selected because they provide the most flexible means for connecting to the Nation’s commercial oil transport network. Strategic Reserve oil can be distributed through interstate pipelines to nearly half of the Nation’s oil refineries or loaded into ships or barges for transport to other refineries.

Strategic Petroleum Reserve caverns range in size from 6 to 35 million barrels in capacity; a typical cavern holds 10 million barrels and cylindrical in shape with a diameter of 200 feet and a height of 2,000 feet. One storage cavern is large enough for Chicago’s Sears Tower to fit inside with room to spare. The Reserve contains 62 of these huge underground caverns.

So the storage caverns are right there, right in the middle of the main American crude oil world. Right along the coasts, with piers and pipes already in place. And we already have an existing pipeline network to most of the refineries. Now, one guess as to where most of the refineries are? Go on, take a guess. What, you say they’re in the same area? Woo-hoo! You win!!

According to Wikipedia, 14 of the 20 largest refineries in the whole US of A are located in either Texas or Louisiana. The combined processing capacity of those 14 refineries can eat up that 30 million barrels worth in barely 6 days.

Who would like to bet that when the US government laid that infrastructure pipeline from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve salt domes to the refineries and the national oil distribution network, they went for the low hanging fruit first and connected up to the local refineries? Someone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? I think you’d be foolish to bet against that.

Oh, and if some of that oil just absolutely, positively needed to be moved by ship, we already have an entire little navy of “lighters”. American ships, Americans crews. Lighters are “normal” sized oil tankers of “only” half a million barrels capacity, and they exist because almost no deep water ports exist in the United States. They are “little” oil tankers that go down only 13 meters below the surface, as opposed to the gigantic ULCC and VLCC tankers that draft 20 meters or more. Those giant ships don’t come in to port, and they don’t sail up the Mississippi. No, they offload their oil to half a dozen or so lighters, and those ships take it upriver and into port. And they do this transfer at sea, right off the Texas and Louisiana coastlines. And should they have to go to the other big refineries in California, those lighters are small enough to be within Panamax standards. Which means they can fit through the Panama Canal. Just in case there isn’t a pipeline to the west coast. Yeah right.

Lightering
In many situations, the tanker is too large to enter the load or discharge port. The most prominent example is the USA which has almost no ports which can accept drafts in excess of 13 meters. A fully loaded VLCC will have a draft in excess of 20 meters. A ULCC can have a draft of as much as 25 meters. When these ships bring oil to the United States, they almost always have to off-load their cargo to a smaller tankers at sea. The smaller tankers, called lighters, then actually deliver the oil to the refineries which in some cases are well in-shore. For example, the Exxon refinery at Baton Rouge is 200 miles up the Mississippi River.

This process is called lightering. Lightering normally takes place 20 to 50 miles offshore. The lighters typically have a cargo capacity of about 500,000 barrels. Thus, a VLCC will offload to about four lighters in a single discharge, and a ULCC to as many as six. The lighters have a deadweight of about 80,000 tons. Their loaded displacement is about the same as a nuclear aircaft carrier. They are bigger than the largest ship afloat in 1960. The lighters may be small compared to a VLCC or a ULCC, but they are big ships.

A VLCC tanker holds about 2 million barrels of oil. The United States uses around 20 million barrels of oil per day. 10 ships full. 4 to 6 lighters per VLCC. Give the lighters a couple days to sail from their loading point to the refineries, some time to pump out their cargo, and time to sail back ... call it a 5 day turnaround ... this implies that there are at least 225 lighters in operation. Probably more than 300. Operating in the exact same area as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Assume a few of them are sitting around idle for lack of Libyan oil ... it’s pretty obvious that not one foreign vessel will be needed to move a single drop of this oil. Not one. And the guy in charge of the Offshore Maritime Service Association should know better. Moving oil and moving oil men is his world.

Knock off the bullshit.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/24/2011 at 09:15 PM   
Filed Under: • Miscellaneous •  
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