How much does business-as-usual cost? This morning, Green Car Congress reported that the US is projected to pay $440 billion for imported petroleum in 2008:
The increase to the estimated $440 billion for 2008 is based on an average $90 per barrel crude oil price for the year. In 2002, before the current bull market for oil began, US oil imports cost less than $103 billion. The preliminary figures for last year came to some $327 billion.
With little prospect for cheaper gas prices in the future, any decrease in the US export bill will have to come from a reduction in petroleum usage.
Which brings to mind two important questions:
- What percentage of our Gross Domestic Product will the US have to export before things start to change dramatically?
- Where is all this money going, anyway?
Wired Magazine’s Autopia blog posted a partial answer to the first question last week ($3 Gas–No, $4 Gas–Will Change U.S. Driving Habits. Really.):
In the past six weeks, gas consumption has dropped by 1.1%. That’s the most sustained drop in 16 years, except for the period following Hurricane Katrina, according to the “Wall Street Journal.” And if prices reach $4, as many economists predict, an estimated 65 percent of American car owners report they will dramatically change their driving behavior, according to a study commissioned by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association.
As for the second question, this list from the Energy Information Administration may be helpful. Here are the top 5 countries we import oil from (and export oil money to):
- Saudi Arabia
Forty percent of our total oil imports come from OPEC countries, which means that in 2008 we should be exporting $177 billion to countries that hate the US or actively fund terrorism (more on this later).
But hey, at least there’s a lot of love for our Northern neighbors, eh?
GreenCarCongress (Mar. 9, 08): Projection: US to Pay $440B for Imported Petroleum in 2008