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The Challenge
2022-10-19

            Winter is just around the corner and all of us will feel the effect of more increases in the price of oil.  Especially now that OPEC+ (which includes Russia) has announced that they will cut oil production by two million barrels of oil per day.

            In an attempt to temporarily ease the pain from the loss, the President of the United States is expected to authorize the release of another 15 million barrels of oil from our Strategic Petroleum Supply (SPR) in December, adding to the 180 million barrels already released over the past few months.

            According to the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response the SPR, the world's largest supply of emergency crude oil, was established primarily to reduce the impact of disruptions in supplies of petroleum products and to carry out obligations of the United States under the international energy program. The federally-owned oil stocks are stored in huge underground salt caverns at four sites along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico. The sheer size of the SPR (authorized storage capacity of more than 700 million barrels) makes it a significant deterrent to oil import cutoffs and a key tool in foreign policy.

            As of Oct. 14, 2022, there were 414 million barrels left in the reserve; the lowest level since 1984.

            The decline in OPEC+ production will hurt us but it will hurt the European nations even more; especially those supporting or helping Ukraine during the current war there.  Russia is one of the top crude oil producers in the world with pipelines feeding several European and Asian nations and wouldn't blink an eye at shutting down those exports to those who defy them in the war.

            During our own Civil War, some 160 years ago, Confederate President Jefferson Davis decided to use the South's economic clout to try and force Europeans onto their side.  At the time, more than 80% of the cotton used by Britain's textile industry came from the Confederate states. The South decided to embargo those exports as they searched for foreign supporters. 

            British cotton mills stopped working during what was tagged as the "Cotton Famine."  Workers lost their jobs and desperate citizens rioted.  But, Britain steadfastly refused to diplomatically recognize the Confederacy or pressure the Union states to end their wartime blockade of the South.

            Can Europe withstand the pressure to withdraw their support for Ukraine as the winter months approach?

            Is part of Russian President Vladimir Putin's plan to starve Europe of fuel and force it out of the war?  Do the countries in Europe have the means to stand up to Putin's Jefferson Davis-like tactic? 

            I hope they are ready for the challenge.  I am sure the Russian president hopes that they are not.


 

 

 

 

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