Energy Production in the U.S. is not a problem

The production of energy, whether it be oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, renewables, or otherwise, is not a problem in the United States. Here are a few statistics that may surprise some of you. All of this is according to the Energy Information Administration (“EIA”).

We are the largest energy producer in the world. Here are the top 10.

Top 10 Energy Producers (Quadrillion BTU) in 2007

United States	71.5
China		70.8
Russia		54.0
Saudi Arabia	23.8
Canada		19.4
India		13.0
Iran		13.0
Australia	11.9
Indonesia	10.9
Norway		9.9

How about in Oil and Natural Gas Production?

 Top 10 Oil and Natural Gas Producers by barrels of oil equivalent 
(million barrels equivalent per year) in 2008

Russia		7,636.3
United States	7,409.3
Saudi Arabia	4,444.0
Iran		2,585.6
Canada		2,449.5
Algeria		1,979.8
China		1,897.7
Norway		1,731.4
UAE		1,583.2
Mexico		1,469.7

How about Coal Production?

 Top 10 Coal Producers by Thousand Short Ton in 2008

China		2,847,983 
United States	1,171,483 
India		568,323 
Australia	438,506 
Russia		356,185 
Indonesia	313,232 
South Africa	259,597 
Germany		214,351 
Poland		157,882 
Kazakhstan	119,808 

How about renewable energy?

 Top 10 Renewable Electricity Generators by billion kwh in 2008

China		537.9 
United States	382.1 
Brazil		380.4 
Canada		380.1 
Russia		163.0 
Norway		139.2 
India		130.6 
Japan		93.9 
Germany		91.9 
Venezuela	86.7 

How about Nuclear Production?

Top 10 Nuclear Electricity Generators by billion kwh in 2007

United States	806.7 
France		419.8 
Japan		241.3 
Russia		152.1 
Korea, South	144.3 
Germany		140.9 
Canada		88.3 
Ukraine		84.5 
China		65.3 
Sweden		61.3 

Considering we are the largest producer of energy and our population is modest compared to energy production, why can’t we attain energy independence? We simply use too much energy.

Here are the top 10 energy consumers.

Top 10 Energy Consumers (Quadrillion BTU) in 2007

United States	101.6 
China		77.8 
Russia		30.4 
Japan		22.5 
India		19.1 
Germany		14.2 
Canada		13.8 
France		11.2 
Brazil		10.1 
Korea, South	9.6 

Here are the top 10 surpluses and deficits for energy production versus consumption.

Top 10 Energy Surpluses and Deficits (Quadrillion BTU) in 2007

1) Russia	23.6 	1) United States(30.1)
2) Saudi Arabia	16.4 	2) Japan	(18.6)
3) Norway	8.0 	3) Germany	(9.0)
4) Algeria	6.1 	4) Korea, South	(8.2)
5) Indonesia	6.0 	5) China	(7.0)
6) Australia	5.8 	6) Italy	(6.8)
7) Canada	5.7 	7) France	(6.1)
8) Nigeria	5.3 	8) India	(6.0)
9) UAE	        5.1 	9) Spain	(5.4)
10) Iran	5.1 	10) Taiwan	(4.3)

We need to worry about cutting our consumption far more than increasing our production of energy. Neither Republicans nor Democrats focus on this true problem. Democrats focus on increasing renewable production while Republicans focus on increasing Oil, Natural Gas, and Nuclear production. Both are ignoring the true problem.

If you increase production, consumption isn’t a problem. So why is one problem more “true” than the other?

Also I’m very dubious about comparing countries without normalizing by population size.

I see your numbers combined oil and nat gas. I understand that your source does this so you probably had no choice, but those are two very different energy delivery mechanisms, given the current infrastructure and realities of our transporation system (which then acts as an input to pretty much every industry, even services industries).

I think the US’s percentage of world GDP should be taken into account when making these comparisons; ie, how efficient are we per BTU used. Since we’re doing almost a quarter of world GDP, it seems reasonable that we would then use the lion’s share of the energy to produce that.

Best I can tell, we use less than 1/4 of the world energy usage, so we’d seem to be good citizens here (101 Q BTU out of ~465Q BTU, using back of the envelope interpolation).

It’s reasonable to assume that cutting back on energy usage would have some kind of a negative affect on GDP.

Breaking Oil and Natural Gas out separately yields the following.

Top 10 Oil Producers (Million Barrels Per Year) in 2008

Saudi Arabia	3,935.5 
Russia		3,573.3 
United States	3,107.7 
Iran		1,523.7 
China		1,450.2 
Canada		1,222.9 
Mexico		1,162.8 
UAE		1,112.0 
Kuwait		1,000.6 
Venezuela	964.7 

Top 10 Gas Producers (Billion Cubic Feet Per Year) in 2008

United States	25,810.0 
Russia		24,377.9 
Canada		7,359.4 
Algeria		7,104.9 
Iran		6,371.6 
Norway		4,988.2 
Qatar		3,209.7 
Saudi Arabia	3,051.2 
Netherlands	2,990.9 
Indonesia	2,888.8 

You can maybe argue that it’s not as high a priority as it should be, but the problem is not being ignored. The government is, in fact, promoting greater energy efficiency, in things like phasing out incandescent light bulbs, and setting automobile fuel efficiency standards.

Amongst the Top 100 countries by population, the United States has the second highest (Canada is first) consumption per person at 0.33 quadrillion BTU / million people. Amongst the Top 100 countries by population, the United States has the eighth highest production per person at 0.23 quadrillion BTU / million people. That tells me that the problem is consumption rather than production. The following are the top ten for each.

Production Per Person (Quadrillion BTU / million people) 
Among Top 100 Population Countries

Saudi Arabia	0.93
Canada		0.57
Australia	0.53
Russia		0.38
Kazakhstan	0.36
Venezuela	0.28
Azerbaijan	0.25
United States	0.23
Algeria		0.22
Angola		0.21

Consumption Per Person (Quadrillion BTU / million people) 
Among Top 100 Population Countries

Canada		0.40 
United States	0.33 
Saudi Arabia	0.29 
Australia	0.28 
Belgium		0.25 
Netherlands	0.25 
Sweden		0.24 
Russia		0.21 
Korea, South	0.19 
Kazakhstan	0.19 

By what logic? Production and consumption are two parts of the same equation, and exactly balance. If you raise production 100BTU that has the exact same effect as lowering consumption 100BTU. There is literally no reason to consider one part of the equation more a problem than the other.

In practical terms, the solution to the deficit is to raise production and/or lower consumption, in whatever combination is most readily achievable. And you haven’t hardly made a case that it’s easier to get all people to be personally and individually more energy efficient - or whatever your plan is, than it is to build a few more nuke plants or whatever.

Let’s repeat this - you haven’t so much as made any argument at all that the best way to address this deficit is to decrease consumption. You haven’t proposed a plan to do so and shown that it’s more efficient, effective, or otherwise better in any way than any plan to increase production. You are simply asserting that production is the “true” problem, with no argument at all.

This is a good point and one I had not thought of. Based on the GDP per CIA World Factbook as of 2009, the U.S. is not particularly efficient. The U.S. ranks 46th out of the top 100 GDP countries in terms of GDP per consumption of energy. Here is the list of the top 100 countries.

GDP Per Energy Consumption (Million dollars of GDP per Quadrillion BTU)

1)	Switzerland	$386,405 
2)	Angola		$377,157 
3)	Denmark		$352,158 
4)	Ireland		$321,584 
5)	Ethiopia	$317,901 
6)	Sudan		$280,539 
7)	Italy		$262,272 
8)	Austria		$248,383 
9)	Israel		$247,257 
10)	France		$235,132 
11)	Luxembourg	$234,461 
12)	Cameroon	$232,945 
13)	United Kingdom	$232,340 
14)	Greece		$230,888 
15)	Germany		$228,361 
16)	Serbia		$226,080 
17)	Japan		$224,668 
18)	Spain		$215,697 
19)	Tanzania	$205,699 
20)	Portugal	$200,604 
21)	Netherlands	$193,956 
22)	Zimbabwe	$193,267 
23)	Peru		$193,200 
24)	Norway		$192,393 
25)	Sri Lanka	$186,951 
26)	Hong Kong	$184,944 
27)	Finland		$182,082 
28)	Cyprus		$180,280 
29)	Cote dIvoire	$180,011 
30)	Sweden		$176,618 
31)	Guatemala	$172,353 
32)	Uruguay		$171,495 
33)	Colombia	$170,008 
34)	Belgium		$169,146 
35)	Lebanon		$163,537 
36)	El Salvador	$161,742 
37)	Morocco		$161,106 
38)	Nigeria		$158,659 
39)	Dominican Rep.	$155,960 
40)	Cuba		$155,803 
41)	Slovenia	$155,690 
42)	Costa Rica	$153,568 
43)	Australia	$150,237 
44)	Brazil		$146,292 
45)	Turkey		$140,817 
46)	United States	$140,517 
47)	Croatia		$140,471 
48)	Kenya		$138,343 
49)	Chile		$130,273 
50)	Latvia		$124,332 
51)	New Zealand	$123,639 
52)	Tunisia		$123,529 
53)	Philippines	$121,588 
54)	Ecuador		$117,730 
55)	Czech Republic	$117,043 
56)	Bangladesh	$116,727 
57)	Mexico		$114,169 
58)	Hungary		$111,420 
59)	Slovakia	$111,051 
60)	Poland		$108,174 
61)	Panama		$106,617 
62)	Indonesia	$105,359 
63)	Venezuela	$104,909 
64)	Burma (Myanmar)	$104,451 
65)	Kuwait		$99,420 
66)	Qatar		$99,202 
67)	Canada		$95,909 
68)	Lithuania	$94,652 
69)	Argentina	$94,053 
70)	Romania		$93,258 
71)	Oman		$91,189 
72)	Yemen		$91,004 
73)	Malaysia	$85,967 
74)	Algeria		$83,740 
75)	Korea, South	$82,958 
76)	UAE	        $81,193 
77)	Libya		$79,412 
78)	Singapore	$71,143 
79)	Jordan		$69,509 
80)	Egypt		$69,308 
81)	Azerbaijan	$68,985 
82)	Thailand	$68,876 
83)	Vietnam		$68,649 
84)	Syria		$68,390 
85)	Pakistan	$66,749 
86)	India		$65,100 
87)	China		$61,151 
88)	Iraq		$56,616 
89)	Bulgaria	$54,093 
90)	Saudi Arabia	$51,543 
91)	South Africa	$51,506 
92)	Iran		$41,915 
93)	Russia		$41,344 
94)	Belarus		$41,210 
95)	Kazakhstan	$35,409 
96)	Turkmenistan	$33,376 
97)	Korea, North	$31,847 
98)	Trinidad	$27,814 
99)	Ukraine		$18,339 
100)	Uzbekistan	$13,652 


You gotta be more precise than that.

There are two factors. How much do Americans PERSONALLY consume by having big houses, massive SUVs, and trips to France to ski twice a year.

Then there is how much energy Americans use to MAKE shit that gets consumed by themselves or folks overseas.

Americans could be absolute energy pigs in the first instance and models of energy effieciency in the second.

The logic is that in comparison with our peers, we are one of the worst countries at consumption of energy per person and one of the best at production of energy per person. You don’t think that being one of the worst at something is more of a problem than being the best at something? That seems fairly logical to me.

Since 1980, the consumption of energy in the United States has increased 29.99% or 1.11% per year whereas the production of energy has increased 6.35% or 0.24% per year. The United States has mature Oil, Natural Gas, and Coal industries, which make up 84% of our energy production. Nuclear has been a declining percentage of production, and has significant roadblocks toward increasing. Renewables have been heavily subsidized by the United States and show minimal increases as a percentage of the total production of the United States. Any rational person would conclude that it is difficult to increase production, and history shows us that the U.S. has essentially reached a plateau.

Conversely, consumption continues to grow to the point that our energy deficit has essentially tripled in the last three decades. Consumption is an area that has been given little focus. The rate of consumption per person has remained relatively unchanged in the last three decades therefore efficiency has not improved.

Since the usage of energy per person hasn’t improved, I’d say that whatever government promotion of energy efficiency there has been hasn’t been particularly effective.

This doesn’t argue against the overall point though. In fact, hypothetically, if that statement was true, it would argue that we could reduce consumption without it affecting GDP.

We are in eighth place in production per capita, and even ignoring Saudi Arabia (which I presume is population-impaired) we are still producing half the power per capita of Canada and Australia - first world countries the both of them. I’d say that we have tons of room for improvement there.

The percentage difference in per-capita consumption with the other countries isn’t nearly as significant as that.

You think this is difficult - try lowering consumption!

I disagree that nuclear is completely unviable - especially since the most significant roadblock is one shared by consumption reduction - the intractability of the common folks.

If the rate of consumption per person has remained relatively unchanged over three decades, what makes you think that trend can be easily changed?

Of course energy production is more likely a function of natural resources and not number of people. Our natural resources aren’t really growing while the number of people are. This would be why the production per person has gotten 20% worse since 1980. Further, I wouldn’t say that Saudi Arabia is population impaired and Canada and Australia are not. All three have similar population numbers.

Because there hasn’t been a focus on it, and I think the ability to grow domestic energy production significantly is largely impossible.

I’d say that it’s more likely a function of the number of power plants we have, and what types. And it is certainly true that power plants have a natural tendency to reproduce at a slower rate than people. Perhaps we could do something to help them along a little. A little more construction maybe. Perhaps some government-mandated roadblock removal or something…

No focus on it, huh? It couldn’t possibly be that it has been focused on, but whatever government promotion of energy efficiency there has been hasn’t been particularly effective, then?

As for the rest, suffice it to say you’ve done nothing to support your theory that it’s impossible to build nuke plants in the states.

I really think you need to decouple production and consumption in the conversation. Some countries have low populations (relative to their acreage) and lots of oil, like Canada, Nigeria, Russia. Some have big populations relative to space but no energy (Japan comes to mind). The comparative advantage of those countries means that we’ll run a trade deficit with some and a surplus with others. Personally I don’t find this a big deal; there’s no law that says a country must become completely energy self-sufficient - as long as they find something else they do well enough that the exports balance out.

For example, to re-use an old line, I run a trade deficit w/my butcher… but a surplus with my employer. Take that analogy to production (and consumption). Obviously it’s nice to have reserves and production capacity for national security reasons, but I don’t see the two issues as necessarily linked.

As is usual among the zanily hilarious “cut energy” crowd, Dave, you have forgotten that the expansion and increased tapping of greater sources of energy is the hallmark of advancement - and that this is accompanied by greater efficiency and less environmental damage per person.

I would hardly call myself part of the zany “cut energy” crowd. Further, I haven’t said anything about environmental damage or effects from energy use. Nor do I discount that greater efficiency in energy production is occurring. I have simply pointed out the facts that the U.S. is a leader in all forms of energy production and that, yet, our production to consumption deficits continues to grow. This leads me to believe that more efficiency and resources need to be put to use on the consumption efficency side. This does not mean that these efforts should come at the expense of continued work and resources on the production side. Any more strawmans you’d like to argue?

You do realize that power plants need a source of energy in order to convert to electricity don’t you? How is building more power plants going to remedy the fact that the United States’s oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and renewable energy production is not keeping up with consumption?

It goes without saying that any effort hasn’t been effective. Further, the focus doesn’t necessarily have to come from the government. It can come from the private sector as well.

I guess you’ve decided to make up an argument completely in your head. Where in the world have I said anything close to it being “impossible to build nuclear plants in the states”? This is a blatant and absurd misrepresentation from what I actually said, which is that “Nuclear has been a declining percentage of production, and has significant roadblocks toward increasing”. It is a fact that nuclear power has been a declining percentage of production. It is also an almost unarguable statement that there are significant roadblocks toward it increasing. Most notable amongst these roadblocks is the environmentalists’ absurd attitude toward nuclear power that is unfortunately shared by a significant percentage of the party in control as well as many other people. I personally believe that nuclear power should be promoted heavily and that it should be made far easier to build new nuclear power plants. That doesn’t mean that I am blind to the fact that there is significant opposition to my belief.

Grid electricity is not a problem and probably never will be. Just 105 nuclear plants provide 20% of all grid electricity, so its not like we are running out of grid energy. There is tons of coal left, and we can build more wind and solar.

What we are running out of is energy that is compact, portable and that can be used to power transportation.

I don’t agree that efficiency isn’t a concern. CAFE standards are designed to address this, so are energy star. My parents got a refrigerator recently, and it used half the energy of their old model which was 10-15 years old. And Steven Chu is trying to make efficiency a bigger part of our energy policy. He said energy efficiency in refrigerators alone saves almost as much energy annually as is generated in all hydroelectric generation in the US.