Today, in the face of growing criticism over his handling of the economy, president Bush held a news conference to... well, what else? Blame the Democrats. The Washington Post reports:
Here are some interesting statistics, courtesy of yahoo.com:
Bush cited an Energy Department estimate that drilling in the refuge could allow the United States to produce about 1 million additional barrels of oil a day, yielding about 27 million gallons of extra gasoline and diesel a day.
"That would be about a 20 percent increase of . . . crude oil production over U.S. levels, and it would likely mean lower gas prices," Bush said. "And yet such efforts to explore in ANWR have been consistently blocked."
World oil production: 76,010,000 barrels per day
U.S. oil production: 7,800,000 barrels per day
So, we produce roughly 10% of the world's oil. A 20% increase in U.S. production would, therefore, amount to a 2% increase in the world oil supply.
And that's going to bring prices down? Not very likely, and certainly not by much, even if it does have some measurable effect. Consider, for instance that world demand for oil has been growing at about 1.5% per year, a figure that is relatively unchanged even in the face of the current economic slowdown. At that pace, it would take less than 18 months for demand to outstrip new Alaskan oil supplies, and that's assuming such supplies could come on line immediately, at full capacity.