On April 20th, 2010 an explosion at the Deepwater Horizon platform, which drilled on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect killed 11 men working on the platform and gushed almost 5 million barrels of crude oil (50,000 barrels a day) into the Gulf of Mexico. The spill also caused extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and to the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries.
There was no single moment, where President Obama held a microphone and announced “you are either with us or against us”. There was no memorable, single speech that declared a war on the “oil” industry. There was no single address to congress declaring ‘the shift’! But, for sure April 20th, 2010 was President Obama’s 9/11 moment.
That was the day the administration began their war on Oil in earnest!
Since then, it’s been a quiet, cold war. But almost two years later, today, the U.S. is importing 2 million less barrels of Oil a day then it did 3 years ago. Today, almost 2 years later, BP has been suspended from bidding on any federal contracts. There is also a new wave of “natural gas” drilling in the U.S. using hydraulic ‘fracking’ – releasing enough new gas reservoirs – to feed America for over 200 years. Nationwide, the electricity generated by gas-fired plants has risen by more than 50 percent over the last decade, and overall volume of Oil and Coal used to fire power plants is down! Oil exploration licenses on federal lands have been reduced.
In fact, (hopefully because of bad karma from Iranians), BP who has been so responsible for the demise of Iranians (with the theft of Iranian claims in the Caspian Sea) and undermining Iranian democracy 3 times in the past 100 years (not to mention undermining democracy in other places like Azerbaijan), has been hit with a string of many more bad turns. It also recently lost a huge Siberian oil exploration and development contract to Exxon Mobil. BP has been on a fire sale of assets to raise funds for record fines being levied against it by U.S. federal courts.
The number of alternative fuel vehicles in the market now exceeds 9 million in 2012; with Toyota’s Prius Hybrid selling over one million vehicles in the U.S. alone. This year they launched a plug in version of the Prius (and other vehicles) which will extend the range of the vehicles to over 100 miles a fill – using electric sockets at your home. Today, almost 2 years after the Deepwater disaster, the Department of Energy announced major funding for its ARPA (Advanced Research Programs Agency) of $166 Million for 66 advanced projects – where more than half the projects are target Oil substitution ideas. While the overall dollars being spent for these programs is peanuts on a relative basis, in truth, it shows the government’s intent. It demonstrates where the mind of the administration is at.
While the Middle East is riddled with “wars for oil”; the U.S. administration is very carefully repositioning the United States of America away from Oil as a primary resource – to take America to a new age, beyond a world where oil companies influence every element of human lives. A world that is far more environmentally sustainable than the world we live in today. A world where politics in the U.S., but also throughout the world with propped up in places like Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia – and yes: Iran; for the strategic purposes of Oil companies like Exxon, BP, etc.
By 2020, the U.S. is planning to be a net energy exporter, and essentially independent of foreign oil resources. According to Obama’s plan, the war on oil will surpass the war on terrorism in terms of real dollars, and real commitment by the U.S. government.
This is a silent war. There is no advertisement. There is no moment on an aircraft carrier – declaring the completion of major operations. The administration is too shrewd for that! They do not, after all, want to further polarize the situation with these massive (and very powerful) companies. The simple hope is that as alternatives become available and the price of natural gas drops to as low as $3/cf and the pressure on electricity prices is reduced – consumers and power companies will flock to hybrid cars, flex-fuel cars, plug-in cars, natural gas powered vehicles …you name it… on their own, BUT ultimately move away from Oil based derivatives.
The Europeans too are taking note. The new French government has declared that it will retire its aging nuclear power plants and replace them with natural gas-fired power plants. Most of Europe is planning to move away from oil, coal and nuclear power too.
This is the new war to create a new world ‘beyond oil’ – and it is actually good, but Iran is being carefully left behind. In fact, Iran is being by-passed in the grander plan to create new energy corridors; while countries like Qatar and Israel are being very carefully placed in the map as major global suppliers. More on this in Part 2.