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Is America Running Out of Gas?

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Posted 09/29/2005

One New Year’s Day a large portion of the Rose Bowl Parade in Southern California sputtered and came to a halt. One of the loveliest floats in the parade had run out of gas, stopping everyone behind it. The sponsor for the float was—Standard Oil Company!

Current events reflect prophetic fulfillment. The Bible says what has been, will be. What you see on the newscasts and read in your newspaper is either the fulfillment of or setting the stage for, the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. A good example is the current oil crisis.

The Current Dilemma

Is America . . . and the world . . . running out of oil? Best-selling book titles include The End of Oil, Peak Oil: Life After the Oil Crash, The Oil Age Is Over, and others. National Geographic featured a cover story last summer that looked at how the world would survive “After Oil.” Is America’s joy ride coming to a screeching halt? Are we truly about to run out of oil?

Most of the experts say, “No!” The truth is that the earth is swimming in oil. The first oil well in the United States was drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania, in 1859. At that time, there was six trillion barrels of crude oil underneath the ground in America. Today, 146 years later, we have used only about a trillion barrels.

World Energy Outlook 2004 says, “The Earth’s energy resources are more than adequate to meet demands until 2030 and well beyond.” This statement is made even though global energy demands will soar by 60 percent over the next 25 to 30 years and fuel demands for cooking and heating will increase rapidly.

What, then, is the problem? In a word, the Earth has plenty of oil but there is a shortage of refineries to process it. Another difficulty has been the monopolistic hold OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) has had on the production and distribution of oil, but this is changing somewhat.

OPEC is an organization composed of 11 oil-producing nations. They are:






Saudi Arabia


United Arab Emirates





Our Thirst for Oil

Petroleum analysts and geologists tell us that here in the United States, our output of crude oil and natural gas liquids hit a peak in 1970. That year we produced 11.3 million barrels a day but today, we produce only 7.2 million barrels a day. Yet, we consume more than 20 million barrels of petroleum a day! Gasoline consumption alone is more than nine million barrels a day.

The U.S. has only two percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, yet we burn 25 percent of the world’s transportation fuels. This, too, is changing.

For the past five years, China has been on a fast track to catch up with the rest of the industrialized nations in its standard of living. From the year 2000 to the year 2004, China accounted for 40 percent of total growth in world energy demands! Ironically, experts agree that this trend, if it continues, could help keep the price of fuels down.

Petroleum and petroleum products are responsible for almost everything we have and everything that happens in this country. For example:

  1. Pesticides are made from oil.
  2. Commercial fertilizers are made from ammonia which, in turn, is made from natural gas.
  3. Farming implements, such as tractors and machinery, are constructed and powered by petroleum.
  4. Appliances are manufactured in oil-powered plants, distributed with oil-powered transportation and run on electricity or petroleum products. Electricity come from petroleum.
  5. In America, we are told that the average piece of food is transported 1,500 miles before it gets to your plate.
  6. Modern medicine, water distribution and national defense are powered entirely by oil and petroleum-derived chemicals.
  7. Nearly all of our daily transportation system is powered by petroleum products.

The Need for Refineries

The Group of Seven (G7) countries is an alliance of economists from seven countries who devote themselves to the health of the world economy. The seven G7 countries are: Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. The G7 countries have recently called for stepped-up refinery investment in all countries.

Twenty-five years age, according to Oil and Gas Journal, a petroleum industry magazine, the U.S. had 324 oil refineries capable of producing 18.6 million barrels of petroleum a day. Today, we have just 132 oil refineries producing 16.8 million barrels a day. Our consumption of petroleum products has rocketed during this time.

The alarming fact is that no new refineries have been built in America since 1976!

The US Energy Information Administration says that because of the layers of ground under which it is located, some of the oil is difficult to retrieve. For example, drillers in the Gulf of Mexico can retrieve 60 percent of the oil they find in a formation. On the other hand, some of the drillers in Oklahoma can recover only 8 to 10 percent of the oil there. Worldwide, the average amount of oil that can be recovered from the ground is 35 to 40 percent.

The era of long, leisurely Sunday drives in the country and Saturday night cruising down Main Street in hot rods has mostly come to an end. Those times have been replaced by a lifestyle built around long commuter drives to work and huge homes filled with more and more gadgets that require more and more energy to operate.

New Refineries
Congressman Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania has introduced a bill in Congress intended to speed the process of building more oil refineries in this country. Representative John Sullivan of Oklahoma has announced legislation to help pave the way for new refinery near Cushing, Oklahoma. Plans for a new refinery in the desert near Yuma, Arizona, are well under way.Perhaps Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have taught us the folly of concentrating all of our refineries in one area, especially one that is hurricane-prone.

But America is rather late in getting started back. For example, the country of Qatar is constructing a new 140,000 barrels per day oil refinery to be finished by 2008. Another new 200,000 barrels per day oil refinery they are building will be operational by 2010, according to Qatar Oil Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah.

India recently announced a new refinery it will build by 2011. Iraq has plans to build 12 new refineries in the near future. One is already under construction in Najaf, and in September, worldwide companies were invited to bid on constructing a new billion dollar refinery north of Baghdad.

Representative Pitts said, “Our ability to refine oil and supply gas to consumers has not kept pace with demand. That’s because we have not built a new refinery in more than 30 years. This is a driving factor in the level and volatility of gas prices. No matter how much additional crude oil is made available, we simply do not have the capacity to refine it. But experts say that just one new refinery would make a significant dent in gas prices here at home.”

One of Osama bin Laden’s primary goals has been to force oil prices into the $200 per barrel range. In April 2005, the French investment bank, Ixis-CIB, warned that “crude oil prices could touch $380 a barrel by 2015.” What does the future hold for America? As God’s people, we must continue to lift up Christ and prepare in every way we can for the soon return of our Lord.

I will talk more about some things that we, as God-fearing people, can do to conserve energy.

God bless you in these troubled times!


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