With oil prices sliding steeply from their undreamed of heights at $147 a barrel
to under $70/bbl, levels that less than two years ago were considered rapacious, OPEC in its inimical greed called an emergency meeting to staunch the bleeding. To underline their concern and throw a Halloween scare into world consumers not to get too uppity, they invited, or better said extended a welcome mat, to those wonderful Hollywood minted oil-patch gremlins, the Russians, to monitor and work the corridors at their deliberations.
In its gambit to manipulate ever more of the world's oil production the OPEC cartel
has been facilitating Russia's willing attendance at recent OPEC meetings including last week's visit by OPEC's secretary general Abdullah al-Badri's to Moscow . Russia of course is the largest producer and exporter of oil outside of OPEC.
Russia's President Medvedev quickly assumed the mantle of OPEC doublespeak. "Russia is also a a large producer and exporter of oil and is interested in maintaining stable, predictable prices." In OPEC blabber, "stable, predictable prices" means "high and ever higher prices." Clearly Russia's new president is a quick study on matters oil.
The Russians, perhaps a little reluctant to jump into the OPEC pool with both feet have come up with a better idea. And here, Secretary Bodman. you and your staff and all those good folks at the White House can play a role which, in the old days, would have been attributed in the European parlance of another time as help from the "Onkel aus Amerika." You see the Russians have this concept that they can support oil prices by, yes you guessed it, diverting part of their production to a national petroleum reserve with the purpose of limiting oil supply on global markets. A concept being put forward with the weighty support of Russia's deputy prime minister Igor Sechin.
And who knows better about national petroleum reserves (here known as the "Strategic Petroleum Reserve") and their impact on prices than our own administration who for years has been taking millions of barrels off the market and pouring them into salt caverns willy nilly while oil prices were going through the roof leaping some 700 percent. A program that continued in such unabated excess that it literally took an act of Congress to get them to desist.
Whatever the Russians decide to do, they have by example made known the hypocrisy and underhandedness of our administration on this issue. It becomes patently clear that our Strategic Petroleum Reserve is first and foremost an oil industry boondoggle and has been administered in a way primarily to the benefit of the oil-patch few rather than the nation's citizens many.
We have all become fully aware of the environmental and national security issues at stake in the consumption of fossil fuels. Further, we are beginning to understand that the consumption of fossil fuels must be reduced through public policy and not through the transfer of wealth to oil interests. This post is meant to highlight but one aspect of the worldwide collusion by an industry on whom we can no longer permit ourselves to be dependent. It is time to get the oil monkey off our back once and for all.