Brazil Oil Discovery - And a Lesson in Bias
Petrobras, Brazil's state-owned oil company has discovered a major location of oil reserves 180 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro that, under ideal circumstances, could launch Brazil as a petroleum exporter. As the article notes, it appears to be light oil, which is easier and cheaper to refine than heavier oil found in Venezuela. While this oil is deep below the surface of the ocean, Petrobras is an innovator in deep water drilling:
So, Petrobras engineers worked with manufacturers to develop pressure-resistant instruments and progressively moved seaward,
breaking global depth records along the way.
"Petrobras became the leader in deepwater drilling," said Tom Marsh, publisher at ODS-Petrodata, a researcher based in Houston that tracks data on offshore energy projects. "Their oil was offshore and that made the
Brazilian coast one big, giant research and development project."
So where does the bias come in? In this article about the discovery the Wall Street Journal gets out the knives at first:
But in a reminder of the role of governments in world oil supplies,
Brazilian officials also yanked leases giving access to nearby and
similar areas from a coming auction.
Wow! A government protects the investment it has in its state-owned energy company! Not content to get in a dig at Petrobras, the WSJ writers decide to downplay the significance of the find:
Even if Tupi contains the high estimate of eight billion barrels, the
world consumes about 86 million barrels a day, so it may contain about
three months of supply.
In other words if this were the only place in the world that had oil, it would be exhausted in three months. Perhaps the WSJ should have writers write about petroleum who have heard of such nations as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Venezuela, Indonesia, Angola, Libya and Iran, among numerous others.
Let's compare that best case scenario to a favorite location to tap oil from the rightwingers: The Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR). According to this organization, which advocates opening ANWR to oil development, here's what may be there (warning: pdf file):
The quantities of technically recoverable oil are not expected to be uniformly distributed throughout the ANWR 1002 Area. The undeformed area is estimated to contain between 3.4 and 10.2 billion barrels of oil (BBO) (95- and 5-percent probability), with a mean of 6.4 BBO. The deformed area is estimated to contain between 0 and 3.2 BBO (95- and 5-percent probability), with a mean of 1.2 BBO.
In other words, the mean potential for ANWR is less than the ideal estimates for Tupi. If Alaska were the only place in the world that had oil, ANWR would also be exhausted in three months.
Better journalists, please.
Cross-posted at Beautiful Horizons.
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