[Link] When in doubt, ask the experts. Red Cavaney, president of the industry trade group American Petroleum Institute--not left-leaning types--puts the blame squarely on the invasion of Iraq, where unrest and violence has reduced production to less than they were under Saddam in the world's second-largest supplier. Traders of oil futures fix the price per barrel based on their expectations of political stability, especially in the world's largest oil-producing nations. And they don't like what they see in Iraq. "As soon as you can stabilize the civil situation," says Cavaney, "[Iraq will] significantly be able to ramp up production. But it would take years."
The chart of the crucial "light sweet crude oil" futures index reads like a barometer of political tension in energy-producing hotspots. Oil, hovering around $27 a barrel in 2001, spiked to $38 when the United States went to war against Afghanistan--a potential oil pipeline route and neighbor to several large producers. It jumped from $33 to $40 in February 2003, just before the U.S. attack against Iraq. Insurgents have blown up
pipelines and refineries there ever since, causing a steady climb to $76.
Adding to the high cost of crude oil, says former Louisiana senator and oil company lobbyist Bennett Johnston, is the Bush Administration's "saber rattling" against Iran. "We'd see gasoline prices of $5 or $6; crude oil above $100 if we bomb Iran," he predicts.
So voters are right. If Bush wants to bring down oil prices, he can. All he has to do is stop threatening war, and bring home the troops from Iraq.
Ted Rall goes 'toonless in a short, and to the point, essay.