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Tuesday, January 31, 2006
 
SOTU

I am very, very disappointed. After years of offering my backyard for drilling -- it's no ANWR -- what do I get instead? Solar power.

And what was that American Competitiveness whatamajigy? Uh, it's called tax cuts. That is the only competitiveness initiative we need.

Seriously though, it was fine. I would have liked it to be a little tougher on Iran, but what else is new.

How great was it to see Roberts, Thomas and Alito together? They've got a good 25 years together. Wow.

How about that Dem response though? That guy's my governer? Yikes.


Comments:
Yeah, I was leaving the "addcited to oil" stuff to JPC. Like I said, the whole second half is tough to take after a strong first half. I assumed the "Amercian Competitiveness Initiative" was an Olympic funding scheme. No?
 
The 'addicted to oil' is getting a lot of play, but can be spun so many different ways. Truth be told, Americans don't want to change their behavior, they want cheap fuels, and most importantly - they don't want to pay the price for cleaner air (which has cost a ton in investments, research, and opportunity)and they don't want to pay the price for the costs of 'alternative fuels.

Perhaps a bigger push for domestic development will result. I can tell you that today ethanol isn't the answer - huge subsidies going mainly to Archer Daniels Midland (not as much to the corn farmers as every thinks), its expensive, not always practical (gels in cold tempretures) and consumers more energy when making it then the amount of energy the fuel produces itself. And it isn't environmentally friendly. Perhaps though, technology and and science can improve it.
 
JPC - I read a lot regarding ethanol just last week. Seems to have a lot of pluses - can be made from several sources (not just corn), the large auto dealers are investing in it.

If techology can improve upon ethanol's present limitations, is this something that can have a real impact? Are the oil companies researching it with the expectations of branching into ethanol if it proves beneficial?
 
Sip - There is a tremendous amount of research into ethanol going on throughout the world. Some is being done by oil companies, much by gov'ts.

It could be viable in fifteen to twenty years. We are still a LONG way off for a few MAJOR reasons, most of which throwing a ton of money at won't solve. And its questionable whether ethanol is truly the answer. One, today the entire ethanol industry throughout the world depends on subsidies and price supports - whether its corn, sugar or cellulosic ethanol - because it isn't viable. We know how hard it is to wean companies off subsidies, especially agribusinesses. Two, ethanol depends on commodities traded in the world marketplace, just like oil, thus making it susceptible to many of the same conditions that affect prices for oil (weather, unstable regions, speculation) and others like draught. Three, ethanol infrastructure doesn't truly exist. The oil industry has been forced to go to great lengths to blend it in low percentages per gallon, but it ethanol cannot be tranported, stored, or pumped in the same way as gasoline or diesel. Fourth, it is not environmentally friendly. There are trade offs for some enviromental benefits for some other major problems.

I do think that great strides might be made over the next few decades in this area - but their could be some others, whether its hydrogen, fuel cells, or better hybrids.

The oil industry still has only 5.8 cents average return on the dollar over the last five years - compared to 5.5 average U.S. industry. Pharmaceuticals, banks, telecomm, financials, food & beverage, household products all have better rates of return.

People complain about market concentration - Market concentration is higher for steel, big autos, the airlines, cereals, tires, soaps, and other industries that the major oil companies. In fact, 'Big oil' only controls 5% (that's five percent) of the world's oil supply. Free market companies are competing in a global marketplace where the remaining 95% is controlled by nationally owned companies - Saudi, China, Venezuala, etc. In fact, the Chinese oil company recently paid $2 billion over market value for the rights to supplies in Nigeria, simply to capture the supply and that portion of the market. That is what the oil and natural gas companies are competing against.
 
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