Saturday, September 13, 2008

Charleston, SC Gas Situation

Around Charleston gas is fluctuating spectacularly due to the unknown extent of damages most likely inflicted by Hurricane Ike. Gas was going up all night. This morning we took a walk around downtown. We had some errands anyway. As we rounded the corner onto upper Meeting we noted the Exxon (above Calhoun Street) had Regular posted at $4.01.We made our way down to the market at Marion Square, spotting $3.99 at the Shell. Unfortunately, Shell was a few cents cheaper because they were out. All pumps donned the telling plastic, yellow OUT OF SERVICE covers. Thank you for shopping.The last station we saw on our trek was the BP at Calhoun & Rutledge. They had gas when we walked by and they were selling for $3.71.Gas prices have fluctuated violently since Hurricane Ike has passed over the Gulf of Mexico and through Texas. Supply may be cut off for days. We don't know yet. Considering the South gets most of their gas from refineries in the Gulf area, prices reacted. Gas prices began going up here last night, but seem to be tapering off some today where one can find gas, that is.

Ultimately, this situation reflects the vulnerability of our petroleum dependent system. It seems the drill, drill, drill plan still leave us open to compromised security considering parts of the South are out of gas as one category 3 rolls through. Offshore drilling of any kind is subject to disruption each and every time a storm crops up out there in warming ocean waters. It doesn't really matter in this case if climate change is man-made or not. The reality is we're getting more storms - and bigger ones at that. So, if we drill, drill, drill to attempt to solve our energy problems here in the United States, we can probably consider this a preview of things to come.

4 comments:

WileyCoyote said...

The problem is not the drilling as much as it is the lack of refineries. Refining oil is a messy job - and it is the refineries that were closed as well as the drilling platforms for Ike. Congress limited the expansion of refineries - which is why we are so dependent on foreign oil, already processed and refined; they have no restrictions on refineries.

The whole "drill, drill, drill" program is a shell game (pardon the pun)- as long as Congress refuses to permit more refineries, we are at the receiving end of the price wars. BP and six other companies currently drill in ND, where an 'oil boom' is taking place - and only four of those companies are US owned. There is no shortage of oil - just as there is no shortage of bureaucracy to keep us from mining and refining our own.

Harry Brinson & Stacey Barrington said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harry Brinson & Stacey Barrington said...

Yes, Wiley, but regardless of who is to blame for botching the system, the point is more a matter of keeping the oil flowing regardless. We're sitting around here wondering how many blows our economy can take.

It has been suggested many times we should drill of South Carolina's coast. But we get a lot of storms as well. So, even if we were pumping tons of oil from the outer continental shelf, we would still have to pump it inland, refine it and ship it off to be sold. This chain leaves a lot of open holes subject to disruption.

It's bad enough we have to move hundreds of thousands of people out of harms way- disrupting days, or weeks of economic productivity.

Regardless of who is to blame, anyone advocating a continued dependency on oil is supporting a dangerous and outdated system. Besides, although you do mention "there is no shortage of oil" (which at the moment is correct), oil field peak has been proven time and time again. Eventually, there will be real shortages, possibly many years from now. Why not plan ahead and invest in a safer system now as we look for solutions?

In conversation we've been tossing around the idea that the only thing that will get the US over the energy crisis hump is a combination of alternatives supportive of total electrification.

We can envision ourselves on an electric trolley with no worries about gas prices! :) Charleston once had an electric trolley system. Maybe we'll go back to the future with some foresite!?!

WileyCoyote said...

Indeed, I am a strong proponent of alternative energy resources. We moved to our new place with the full intent of putting up solar and wind collectors - but that idea has expanded, and we and our local officials are investigating putting up turbines on our back ridge for the whole area.

Again, the people MUST speak out. SC does not have a return kilowatt credit program; if the Green Home in Traditions in the southernmost part of SC generates more electricity than the house can use or store, the owners cannot get credit for, nor sell the overabundance generated, back to the electric company. So while people who are insistent about alternative energy may actually find ways to provide their own, their own representatives are buying into the lobbyists' poor-mouthing at the representatives' offices.

No matter how much we grouse, unless we are willing to make changes - not merely for ourselves but for the state, the country, we will continue to be at the mercy of foreign oil.