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Low-cost oil is fueling energy worries.

Low-cost oil is fueling energy worries

A major report released last week by the Department ofEnergy (DOE) predicts that within eight years Persian Gulf countries may again supply 30 to 45 percent of the world's oil-- up from less than 25 percent today. Despite oil conservation measures adopted since the Arab oil embargoes of the 1970s, petroleum still accounts for more than half of the world's energy and 40 percent of U.S. energy. The DOE report, titled "Energy Security,' says the recent fall in oil prices--at one point last year they plummeted from $25 per barrel to about $11--has encouraged greater oil use, reduced U.S. exploration for oil (by almost 40 percent last year alone) and forced marginally economic U.S. production operations out of business.

Though the report does not suggest any solutions forreducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, Robert L. Hirsch, vice-president of research for ARCO Oil and Gas Co. in Plano, Tex., offers some recommendations in the March 20 SCIENCE. According to Hirsch, a former assistant administrator with DOE's predecessor agency, the best options--an oil import tax, an oil import quota, tax incentives for U.S. exploration and production, and incentives for encouraging a shift to other energy sources--all require involvement of the U.S. government, "which has in the past not performed well in such matters.' Moreover, he believes, "because none [of these] are simple, because people are generally happy with lower energy prices, and because the country tends to be short-term oriented,' another major U.S. energy crisis should be expected soon--"probably sometime in the early to mid-1990s.'
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Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 28, 1987
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