Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Black Gold

The price of a barrel of oil topped $50 today for the first time ever on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil for November delivery closed at $49.90 a barrel, a record-high closing price. In response, Saudi Arabia announced plans to increase production, but production throughout the OPEC states is already nearing capacity. There is, in other words, little spare capacity to bring into production.

Given this news, a few facts about oil--and oil consumption--may be useful.

  • The United States imports approximately 12 million barrels of oil per day of which roughly 2.5 million barrels come from the Persian Gulf. Among OECD countries, Japan is second in oil imports with approximately 5.5 million barrels imported per day. Almost four-fifths of Japan's oil imports come from the Persian Gulf.
  • U.S. crude oil production is currently just over five million barrels per day.
  • The three top-selling vehicles in the United States (selling a combined 979,485 units in the first half of 2004) are pickup trucks. The best-seller for twenty-two years in a row--the Ford F-150--gets 17 MPG city and 20 MPG highway in its most fuel-efficient configuration. The Chevrolet Silverado and Dodge Ram pickups that follow right behind in the rankings get virtually the same gasoline mileage.

Our penchant for pickups (along with SUVs and other gas-guzzlers) continues to make a number of countries very wealthy. (See which ones here.)