As gasoline prices start their annual rise in anticipation of summer driving season, we’ll start seeing the annual spam about who imports oil from the Middle East and who we should not buy from, and of course the pleas to hold a national gasoline boycott day to put the squeeze on the oil companies.
I started a long rant trying to debunk the mis-information in the spam email, but during my research to get the facts, I found that Snopes does a good job trying to de-bunk this bunk, although I do think they missed a few important points. You could go over to the Snopes site and read their version, but I think mine is more entertaining.
Short version: It’s all baloney. Don’t believe any of it (the spam, that is). Every refiner imports oil (we use more than we have – there’s nowhere else to get it). If you want to impact oil (and therefore gasoline and diesel) prices, and where we get it from, stop using so much. Stop driving like a maniac, stop driving when you don’t need to, and stop buying stuff. All stuff. Any stuff. Stuff which is delivered by trucks burning diesel fuel.
The Long Version (with ranting):
I’ve copied in the Facebook post I saw, which is pretty typical of the email spam we will start seeing, and interspersed a few of my own comments and *gasp* facts. (note: I do recognize that actual facts have no shock value, and will have no impact on the momentum of the spam email, and that beyond my five or so loyal readers, no one will even see this – but I also recognize that once I finish this
rant reasoned discourse, I can move on. No wait, you’re right, it’s a rant.) So, here’s the spam (blue text), with my comments:
Are you aware that the Saudis are boycotting American products? In addition, they are gouging us on oil prices.
If they are boycotting our products, someone forgot to tell them – the US Census Bureau foreign trade report shows we are exporting quite a lot of stuff to them. And most of it has increased over the past eight years.
Shouldn’t we return the favor? Can’t we take control of our own destiny and let these giant oil importers know who REALLY generates their profits, their livings? How about leaving American Dollars in America and reduce the import/export deficit?
Yes, you can take control of your own destiny. You can change the way you drive. You can grow your own food (and reduce the amount of diesel fuel required to deliver your food to the store). You can keep American Dollars at home by reading labels, other than gasoline, and buy American. The oil companies know exactly where their profits come from, and as long as we keep demanding the product, they will be happy to deliver.
An appealing remedy might be to boycott their GAS. Every time you fill up your car you can avoid putting more money into the coffers of Saudi Arabia . Just purchase gas from companies that don’t import their oil from the Saudis.
Nice thought. But there are no oil companies who use only domestic oil. Okay, maybe some small oil companies who don’t import from the Saudis, but ALL refiners import oil from outside of the United States.
Nothing is more frustrating than the feeling that every time I fill up my tank, I’m sending my money to people who I get the impression want me, my family and my friends dead.
The following gas companies import Middle Eastern oil:
Shell……………………………….. 205,742,000 barrels
Chevron/Texaco……………….. 144,332,000 barrels
Exxon /Mobil…………………….. 130,082,000 barrels
Marathon/Speedway…………. 117,740,000 barrels
Amoco…………………………….. 62,231,000 barrels
And CITGO oil is imported from Venezuela by Dictator Hugo Chavez who hates America and openly avows our economic destruction! (We pay Chavez’s regime nearly $10 Billion per year in oil revenues!)
The U.S. currently imports 5,517,000 barrels of crude oil per day from OPEC. If you do the math at $100 per barrel, that’s over $550 million PER DAY($200 BILLION per year!) handed over to OPEC, many of whose members are our confirmed enemies!!!!! It won’t stop here – oil prices could go to $200 a barrel or higher if we keep buying their product.
Aside from the number of barrels and dollar figures, this is mostly true. All those companies do import oil from OPEC countries – and a host of other nations, including Canada and Mexico. Hugo Chavez does run Citgo, and hates us. And I, too, dislike giving my money to him and other nations that hate us.
Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:
Conoco.. ……………..0 barrels
BP / Phillips……….. 0 barrels
Flying J……………….0 barrels
Murphy Oil USA*…..0 barrels
*Sold at WalMART > , gas is from South Arkansas and fully USA owned and produced.
*Not only that but they give scholarships to all children in their town who finish high school and are legal US citizens..
All of this information is available from the U.S. Department of Energy and each company is required to state where they get their oil and how much they are importing.
That last paragraph is THE grain of truth here. The facts are indeed available from the US Energy Information Administration. If you go to that link, and click on “Company Level Imports” you will get the most recent report that shows who imported what, and from where, during a specified time period. Of the companies listed above, Murphy, Valero, Hess (and Hovensa), Sunoco, and Conoco all import oil from overseas. You could fairly say that Sinclair did not import oil from the Middle East, but they did import it from Canada. At least the Canadians don’t hate us. Then again, when is the last time you saw a Sinclair station?
True enough that Murphy Oil is a good company that gives scholarships to graduates of El Dorado High School through the El Dorado Promise. (By the way, if you don’t live in South Arkansas, that’s pronounced “El Duh-RAY-da”.) But they still imported oil from overseas. They have to. There is not enough domestic oil to meet our demand. Did I mention that WE control the demand?
A few other interesting tidbits. Look at that list of companies that supposedly do not import oil. BP. Really? (You do recall that BP is “British Petroleum,” right?) Sure, they were trying to get oil from the Gulf of Mexico, but that’s not their only source – and even if it were, you don’t really think all our dollars are staying in America when you buy from BRITISH Petroleum, do you? (disclaimer: yes, I know my own employer is a foreign company, too, and even has a strong connection to the Saudis – but then again, they are providing a lot of good paying jobs in this area.)
And BP now owns Amoco. A quick lo0k at the ARCO web page – I thought they were out of business – shows they are not only limited to five western states (so you couldn’t focus on buying from them anyway), but they are also owned by BP.
Flying J may or may not actually own a refinery. The one they had in Bakersfield was sold to Alon Refining. Even if they still had one refinery, there’s no way they could supply all their own fuel outlets through one refinery.
Which brings me to one last point. Regardless of what brand is on the gasoline pump, you have no idea who refined the oil to produce that gasoline. Why? Gasoline (and diesel fuel) is a fungible commodity. That means no matter who produces the gasoline, it all meets the same specficiations, and it all gets put into a single pipeline, to be intermingled, and when it is taken out at the end, it’s the same gasoline (i.e. meets the same quality specifications as what went in). Just before it is loaded into a truck for delivery to a station, it may get some detergent additives to make it clean your valves better (Exxon, Shell, Chevron, BP), or it maybe some lesser detergents (Conoco, Sunoco, Murphy, Hess), or maybe the minimum additives required by the EPA (Racetrack, 7-Eleven, and your favorite independent station on the corner). Performance-wise, it’s all the same.
Even if Murphy didn’t import oil, their two refineries in the U.S. and one in Wales could not produce enough gasoline for all the Wal-Mart stations they serve. They must purchase gasoline from other producers, as well. The Shell refinery in Mobile, Alabama produces gasoline for distribution to 75% of all stations in the Mobile/Pensacola market. The point is, no matter where you buy gasoline, you really don’t know who produced it, and where they bought the crude oil.
Mike Rosen suggests there is nothing we can do to curb our addiction to oil. Maybe he’s right. And there isn’t much we can do to drive down the price today. But we can stop driving like a maniac, stop driving when we don’t need to, and use less stuff (nearly EVERYthing we use is in someway supported by the oil industry, but that’s another
blog rant for another time.)