T. Boone Pickens

As we approach the first Presidential debate, it has become clear that there are three major issues in this campaign: the economy, national security and, of course, energy. Of those three, only energy reaches across the other two. It is the single most important foreign policy question we face.

Today we are importing 70% of the oil we use every day. At more than $100 per barrel that adds up to nearly $700 billion per year that Americans are sending overseas, that’s about $1.9 billion a day, seven days a week.

The $700 billion Wall Street bailout proposed by the Secretary of the Treasury, Hank Paulson, is the amount we are spending on foreign oil EVERY YEAR. Keep that in mind: the Wall Street bailout is one year of foreign oil imports.

The economic burden of sending nearly $2 billion every day overseas has become blindingly apparent: Sheikhs in the Middle East are buying up our major financial institutions, which means your mortgage might well be held by someone in Abu Dhabi or Qatar.

Need a new car? Good luck on trading in your used SUV or light truck. You know all that. You have to deal with it every day.

That’s the economic side of our oil addiction.

In addition to the economic brick wall into which we are driving, we should carefully consider, as a national security issue, where that oil is coming from. The single largest oil exporter to the U.S. is Canada. That’s fine.

But of the top 15 countries from which we import oil they include (according to the U.S. Department of Energy) the following:

Venezuela (4th largest exporter to the U.S.)
Nigeria (5th)
Angola (7th)
Algeria (9th)
Equador (10th)
Russia (11th)
Azerbaijan (13th)
Chad (15th)

The notion of Hugo Chavez “hosting” the Russian Navy to conduct exercises in the Caribbean Sea and allowing Russian anti-submarine aircraft to be based in Venezuela should be sending us to the history books to re-read the Monroe Doctrine.

Add to that list the big numbers from the countries in the Middle East. We are depending on a stable supply of oil from one of the least politically stable regions in the world.

Angola? Azerbaijan? Algeria? CHAD?

If ever there was a national security threat, that list of the top fifteen is it.

It appears that the massive spending bill which will be adopted by the House and Senate before they leave will, effectively, lift the ban on drilling on the outer continental shelf. That’s good news, and a good start, but that doesn’t get us to energy independence. I have been an oilman all my life. But I know that there is not enough oil left in the ground or off our coasts to solve this problem.

T. Boone Pickens

T. Boone Pickens is principally responsible for the formulation of the energy futures investment strategy of the BP Capital Commodity Fund and the BP Capital Equity Fund.
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