The Bush Administration has been misusing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) by keeping it topped up with oil at premium prices, while stocks of commercially available oil have fallen commensurately. Basically those 40 million barrels out of circulation drove oil to nearly $40 a barrel this year and the US people are paying an extra 25-35c a gallon on fuel. Such is the price of war plans.* (Taken from the Observer October 2002.) "The US National Energy Policy Report of 2001 - known as the 'Cheney Report' after its author Vice President Dick Cheney, formerly one of America's richest and most powerful oil industry magnates - demanded a priority on easing US access to Persian Gulf supplies. Doubts about Saudi Arabia - even before 11 September, and even more so in its wake - led US strategists to seek a backup supply in the region." (The Saudis were/are the single biggest supplier in the Middle East and with so many of the WTC Al Quaeda terrorists coming from Saudi Arabia, the fear was that the country, and by definition the oil fields, were at risk from radical anti-US forces.) "America needs 20 million barrels of crude a day, and analysts have singled out the country that could meet up to half that requirement: Iraq." Iraq has the worlds second largest proven oil reserves. According to oil industry experts, new exploration could probably raise Iraqs reserves to 2-300 billion barrels of high-grade crude, extraordinarily cheap to produce... For whatever reason, in November 2001, Bush ordered the SPR to be filled to capacity and from January 2002, reserves grew by 150,000 barrels a day. In January 2003 US crude oil stocks were already running low. Inventories were down to their second-lowest level since records began in 1976. The Observer in January 2003 wrote, "with the build-up to a conflict in Iraq accelerating, Mr Horsnell, oil analyst at JP Morgan said, there was considerable potential for interruptions in supply in coming months." It was calculated that reserves at that time, plus the SPR and stocks of finished oil products, could keep the US economy going for 77 days. The on-going oil workers' strike in Venezuela (the source of 25% of all US oil) held back supply. It has been a long winter in the US, the country continues to guzzle more oil per head than any country on earth... Maybe the removal of the Taliban threat has been successful and Saudi Arabia is secure and can be trusted to keep supplying the States as per usual. Cheney assured us on the radio yesterday that the US did not need the Iraqi oil, and his statement about oil needs today is quite true, if applied to US energy needs literally today, but if you stand back from the sound byte, look at the commercial oil levels in the US, and the effect of a full SPR on domestic oil prices, his statement is clearly misleading flannel, and you can see the need for a speedy conclusion to the invasion. * The report, U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve: Recent Policy Has Increased Cost to Consumers But Not Overall U.S. Energy Security. This link does not seem to be up. http://levin.senate.gov/releases/030503pr1.htm.