The oil price is not the price of oil

Since oil imports cost us more, the best policy for the U.S. is to keep producing more oil

By Sel Graham

SelGrahamWill Rogers said, “Everyone is ignorant; just on different subjects.”  What others don’t know can and does hurt you.

Everyone seems ignorant:

(1) that “The oil price” seen and heard in the media is, in fact, the guess of Wall Street speculators (gamblers) on the New York Mercantile Exchange on the commodity price of a small amount of oil six months in the future;

(2) that there is a foreign oil price and a U.S. oil price that is never found in the media but only on obscure websites of the Energy Information Administration;

(3) that in 2008, the Presidential election year, the foreign oil price decreased a total of $87.34 per barrel during the last half of the year, then increased in 2009; and

(4) that foreign oil prices decreased in 2014 from June through October, before the election.  For those wanting to confirm the above facts, go to “Where To Find Data” on my website,

Because of this quadruple ignorance, in June some unidentified Wall Street gamblers made the worst guess of 2014, that the price of oil in December would be $106 per barrel.  In attempting to correct this blunder, the gamblers became like lemmings in guessing lower and lower.

Wall Street gamblers’ guesses are hurting the stock market and hurting the stock I own.  They are probably decreasing your net worth.  Foreign oil prices have affected Wall Street guesses without the gamblers knowing it.  Wall Street gamblers should stop guessing, at least until they know what foreign oil prices will be in 2015.  Americans should demand that Congress regulate this gambling by requiring the media, if it reports the Mercantile Exchange price, to emphasize that it is the guess of the price in the future and to report the most recent price of foreign oil and U.S. oil along with this guess of the price in the future.

Falling oil prices (gamblers’ guesses) were in the news on the last day of 2014.  Wall Street Journal reporter Russell Gold‘s December 31 article on page A5 was entitled, “Oil Prices Crater Amid U.S. Oil Glut.”  A glut?  Is the U.S. oil market being flooded so that the U.S. oil supply exceeds the U.S. oil demand?  No, it is not.

In October 2014, the most recent data available, U.S. oil production was 280 million barrels, only 56% of the total U.S. oil demand of 501 million barrels, leaving 221 million barrels, 44%, to be filled by foreign oil imports.  As long as the U.S. is continuing to import large quantities of foreign oil, we don’t have a U.S. oil glut flooding the global market.  We have incorrect guesses by Wall Street gamblers.

Nearly ten years ago, I wrote a book, Why Your Gasoline Prices Are High, a short, 54-page history of how Jimmy Carter made the U.S. dependent on expensive WhyHighforeign oil.  The basic points I made in this book are as valid today as when written in 2005.  U.S. oil producers are paid a “Posted Price” for U.S. oil production and are not paid the oil price in the media, which is the New York Mercantile Exchange commodity futures price.  Foreign oil imports are more expensive than U.S. oil.  As soon as I received copies of the book from the publisher, I invited Russell Gold, a resident of Austin, to the Westwood Country Club for lunch where I gave him a copy of my book.

Several weeks later, I phoned Mr. Gold and asked him what he thought of my book.  He told me that he had not read my book and did not intend to read it.  I had not expected such a response.  I asked him to leave the book on his front porch for me to pick up and give to another person.  He did, and I did.

Obviously, Mr. Gold was not interested in finding out why gasoline prices were high.  Thank you for being interested in finding out why gasoline prices are low.

Here is another fact which few Americans know.  Since Obama became President in 2009, the annual price of U.S. oil has been less than the annual price of foreign oil.  This pattern is expected to continue until Americans demand that cheaper U.S. oil completely replace the more expensive foreign oil.

Now, go forth and educate fellow Americans.


Sel Graham is a World War II veteran, West Point graduate, and Legion of Honor Member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.  He would like to hear from you at:[email protected] or at 4713 Palisade Drive, Austin, Texas 78731-4516.  This article was recommended to CFACT by Alan Caruba.


About the Author: CFACT

CFACT defends the environment and human welfare through facts, news, and analysis.