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How much is a barrel of oil worth? Scientist says Saudi Arabia produced 40¢ a barrel circa 1997
"No question the high price of gasoline has hurt economic growth here...[it's a] mistake to have its biggest customer's economy slow down ... as a result of high energy prices."
President George W. Bush
Note the year of discussion was 1997. 11 years later, U.S., under Bush-Cheney administration, has wrecked its credibility and credit to such a monstrous proportion that the result is American oil companies' greed in price gouging (ExxonMobil posts quarterly record profits for some years in a row) and devaluation of US Dollar while the Iraq war is ongoing.
While it's a common knowledge that Iraq was invaded to covet vast oil reserve for exploitation, lesser known is the motive to uphold petrodollar hegemony after Saddam Hussein switched to Euro currency in oil trading a few years prior to invasion.
I cut back on personal transportation momentarily in the last two weeks, because continuously fluctuating gasoline price has made it difficult for me to travel as freely as I used to. There's no rail system in the county where I live. Living in the foreign oil-dependent age is frustrating, which is why I support the research and development of renewable energies and expansion of the rail transportation systems in major cities inspired by City of New York and London.
Some time in the future, foreign oil is no longer necessary to run the economy of the wealthiest developed nation and use as a de facto political weapon for the invading aggressors and the hostile nations, the latter threatening petrocurrency nuclear option (as China implies for instance).
America's addiction to oil is akin to consuming heroin. It's not hard to imagine the cartoon of Uncle Sam's bicep tightened with a belt as he stabs the injection needle containing refined oil into the forearm.
Subject: How much is a barrel of oil worth?
Date: Sat Apr 19 17:51:28 1997
Posted by Marty xxxxxxxx
Grade level: other
School: Not presently a student
City: Edmonton State/Province: Alberta
Area of science: Chemistry
I have worked around the petrochemical industry for a number of years
and I was trying to figure out how much one barrel of oil is worth,
when it is broken down to it's base ingregients. Like, how much gasoline,
kerosene, motor oil, as well as the trace gasses that occur during
the refining prosess. I'm curious as to how much money is being made
per/barrel. How much gasoline/kerosene/etc., is made from one barrel.
Is there anyone out there who could assist me?
Thank-you in advance.
Posted By: xxxxxxx, Physics
Date: Sun Apr 20 18:18:37 1997
Area of science: Chemistry
Good question, Marty.
I work in the petroleum industry myself as a geophysicist (looking at seismic
sections and trying to find oil and gas). I'm not too familiar with
refining or compositional analysis but I can offer you the following
Oils from around the world have different compositions (look up "Brent
Blend" or "West Texas Intermediate"). These trade at different prices and
have different potential to be refined into the various products. Some have
unwanted contaminants such as sulphur or constituents like wax that require
special equipment to handle properly. Refineries have to be specially
designed to run on one type of input product, and be optimised to crack
the oils to specific product mixes. For example, Chinese refineries are
optimised to produce diesel, since most of their vehicles use it (and their
local crude oil happens to easily produce it, too). In the USA, refineries
produce much more gasoline.
Over the past 20 years or so, refining companies have never made heaps of
money. The margins are fairly slim and the competition heavy. Anyone can
set up a refinery to exploit perceived market opportunities, or transfer
products from one state or country to another, so there are very few
protected markets and monopolies in that side of the business.
Upstream is a different issue. Oil can be found for, typically, $2.00 per
barrel exploration cost, and produced for $4.00 development cost. With the
international price of oil around $20.00 per barrel, that's $14.00 "profit"
i.e. an apparent 14/6 = 233% return on investment.
Sounds nice, but there are a few snags. Not all oil is equally cheap to find
and produce. Saudi Arabia produces oil at an incremental cost of $0.40 per
barrel! Many wells in the USA, the North Sea, and other parts of the world
become uneconomic if the oil price falls below $12 to $13 per barrel, so
some companies and governments make money at low oil prices, some don't.
Governments also step into the picture. They don't like to see companies
getting rich on their oil - a national resource. Most Countries have
special taxation rules that take extra tax from oil companies. It's common
for a government to require that 60% of all oil produced is given to them
for free, as well as the normal corporate taxes on profits.
Even with this tax situation, oil exploration is still attractive, but the
best areas in the world are hard to get into. Some people think that a new
oil price boom (read oil crisis, leading to possible worldwide recession)
is coming. Many companies are bidding very heavily for attractive areas
and the entry cost is getting very high. Unless the oil price goes up, many
of these companies may lose money.
I don't know what will happen in the future, but it's a complicated
industry and it affects the whole world. Keep your eyes open over the next
few years and you may understand better some of the vagaries of economics.
The Oil Factor (1 hour 30 min)