Last week we had the mispleasure of suffering a subdural hematoma or 7 after reading CA Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's formal response to the gas price shock, in which it became abundantly clear that the amount of heavy metals in the California water supply is directly proportional to the insolvency of said state. Yet the only thing better than the resulting cathartic post, which had over 57,000 reads, and hundreds of comments, is JPMorgan doing the very same to what some allege is the most corrupt and incompetent legislator in the history of the US Congress. Which, to our and our readers' utmost delight, is precisely what happened today, when JPM Private Bank CIO Michael Cembalest decided to clinically deconstruct her argument into its constituent utterly insane components. Below we present the carnage.
From JPM Private Wealth
Output from the Congressional Centrifuge
...House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following press release:
“Independent reports confirm that speculators are driving up the cost of oil, hurting consumers and potentially damaging the economic recovery. Wall Street profiteering, not oil shortages, is the cause of the price spike. In fact, U.S. oil production is at its highest level since 2003, and millions of acres have been cleared for additional development. We need to take strong action to protect consumers from this speculation. Unfortunately, Republicans have chosen to protect the interests of Wall Street speculators and oil companies instead of the interests of working Americans by obstructing the agencies with the responsibility of enforcing consumer protection laws. They have also repeatedly opposed our efforts to end billions of dollars in outdated taxpayer subsidies for oil companies enjoying record profits.
We support efforts by the Obama Administration to expand domestic energy resources, including natural gas and renewable sources like wind and solar that create jobs in America and will end our dangerous dependence on foreign energy supplies. This can be achieved because today, the United States currently has more oil and gas rigs at work than the rest of the world combined, and imports of foreign oil have decreased.
We call on the Republican leadership to act on behalf of American consumers and join our efforts to crack down on speculators who care more about their profits than the price at the pump even if these spikes harm the American consumer and our economy.”
I am of course not going to comment directly on this, for many reasons, including not wanting to spend my days at California’s solar-powered detention facility in Chuckawalla Valley. However, for anyone interested in the specific points raised in this press release, I have included some charts on the unfortunately binding constraints of science and energy economics. Enjoy.
Now let’s get to the interesting part. The press release implies that natural gas and renewable energy can reduce American dependence on foreign oil (“end” is the word used). This is an appealing proposition, particularly with Brent oil prices now 5 times higher than natural gas prices on a BTU basis. So, let’s assume that the US wanted to cease all oil imports from Venezuela, Russia and the Persian Gulf. This would reduce oil imports by ~30%. If Americans still wanted to drive around just as much, absent an increase of 2.8 million bpd in US domestic crude production, electricity would have to replace the foregone gasoline. Ergo: how much wind power or natural gas would be needed, assuming electric cars at 200 watt hours per km? And what policies would be needed on fracking, eminent domain, and subsidies for high voltage direct current power lines to transmit electricity at acceptable loss rates?
Note: the charts below only account for the foregone gasoline component of the imported crude oil. Gasoline is only around 45%-50% of total refined products. The US would also have to come up with suitable domestic or foreign replacements for the rest of the barrel: jet fuel, heating oil, fuel oil, lube oils, asphalt, etc. This topic is often neglected in discussions about reducing reliance on foreign oil: we do a lot more with it than just drive cars.