Commentary: Modern Alchemy Skirts U.S. Energy Policy

Posted August 20, 2014 at 5:07am

Peter Tertzakian, chief energy economist at ARC Financial Corp. in Calgary and  author of two best-selling books, “A Thousand Barrels a Second” and “The End of Energy Obesity,” writes in the Toronto Globe and Mail : “Try as they might, medieval alchemists were unable to turn lead into gold.”  

“But today’s North American oil wizards are at work with their own magic wands, performing value-adding tricks. U.S. refineries are running full blast, turning domestic crude oil into higher-priced petroleum products for world markets. That alchemy is helping oil companies circumvent the 1975 U.S. oil export ban, for it’s verboten to sell unrefined crude abroad, but fair trade to sell distilled liquids such as gasoline, diesel and naphtha.”  

“Canadian oil producers can be thankful for the U.S. refinery magic. Alberta’s oily products would be worth less than tin without this relief valve for flushing surplus black gold out of the North American system.”  

The piece concludes: “The flexibility of energy products to masquerade in different forms is a big reason why the industry’s market magic always seems to find its way around government policy and social impediments.”