Despite the energy boom, old perceptions linger


NO LONGER OVER A BARREL: A cartoon about the 1973 oil embargo by Gib Crockett from the old Washington Star showing then U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the mercy of oil-rich countries in the Middle East.

By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

SANTA FE, N.M. — The image of an oil sheik from the Middle East holding America’s energy needs hostage is badly outdated, but the perception lingers, according to a recent survey.

When asked last fall which country is the largest supplier of foreign oil, 58 percent of those surveyed in a national poll by the University of Texas said Saudi Arabia. Just 13 percent came up with the right answer – Canada:

Yes, Saudi Arabia makes up just 16 percent of America’s foreign oil; Canada accounts for 28 percent.

Actually, when you look at overall consumption, the numbers are considerably lower for foreign sources when considering the U.S. is producing much more oil and gas from sites right here in America.

Last fall, industry statistics showed that, for the first time in nearly 20 years, the U.S. produced more crude oil than it imported. As a result, just 35 percent of the petroleum used in the country came from foreign countries.

A major reason has been the developments in hydraulic fracturing used to break apart shale rock that has led to a 24-year high in domestic production — despite protests from environmental groups.

Speaking of oil production, the Oil Patch in New Mexico continues to boom. The most recent numbers from the state show Eddy County has surpassed Lea County for the amount of barrels produced in 2013.

According to the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division, Eddy County produced 51.5 million barrels of oil, compared to Lea County’s 42.4 million.

A story in the Carlsbad Current Argus reported that Eddy had 51 active wells in the county lines. Lea had 31 wells.

Contact Rob Nikolewski at and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski