The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Making Mischief with Numbers

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted May 10, 2010

The Center for American Progress (CAP) has posted a study on its Web site that could be one of the most misleading, stunningly incorrect documents posted online in months. It asserts that U.S. government energy data show "a large portion of the oil produced in the Gulf Coast region is actually exported to other nations..."

Not true.

API economist Marcus Koblitz delved into the CAP study and found that the study's authors wrongly compared production of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico to exports of crude oil and refined products from the nearby states-the areas where about one-half of U.S. refinery capacity is located. In other words, the authors compared apples to oranges and arrived at a completely nonsensical conclusion.

As Marcus explains, the refineries in the Gulf coast states (which make up the government's PADD III region) processed about 6.9 million barrels of crude oil a day in 2008, which is more than two-and-a-half times the amount of oil that was produced daily in the Gulf during the same time period. In fact, the government's data show that zero barrels of oil were exported in 2008 from PADD III.

So why would CAP produce such a flawed study now, as thousands of responders, many of whom are volunteers, are on the front lines with some of the best engineers in the world struggling to get the oil leaks stopped?

This isn't the time to use a drilling accident to push an agenda. And there's never a good time to distort the facts in an attempt to mislead the public.

Energy production in the Gulf of Mexico accounts for 30 percent of U.S. domestic oil production and 11 percent of U.S. domestic natural gas production. The United States needs all of the energy it can produce now and into the future. Government statistics show that the nation's energy demand is increasing, and oil and natural gas will play an important role in the U.S. energy portfolio for several decades into the future.

The facts are clear: Offshore energy development is essential to America's economy and energy security.

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This post was informed by the following resources:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.