The American public's failure to pay attention reached supernatural levels this week as our mass media gloated over falling gasoline prices -- down 24 cents, average, to pre-hurricane levels. The news media took this to mean that all the end-of-the-summer trouble is over with and things can now get back to normal, including especially an economy based on trade in suburban houses.
What they failed to notice is this: since the hurricanes shredded our Gulf of Mexico oil and gas capacity, Europe has been sending us 2 million barrels of crude oil and "refined product" a day from its collective strategic petroleum reserve. The "refined product" includes 800,000 barrels of gasoline, plus diesel, aviation, and heating fuel. Meanwhile, US domestic production has fallen to around 4 million barrels of conventional crude a day. America uses close to 22 million barrels of oil a day. Bottom line: post-hurricane, total imports have accounted for 80 percent of America's oil consumption.
Now, the important part of all this is that last week the International Energy Agency (IEA), Europe's energy security watchdog, declared that it would now end the 2 million barrel a day shipments to the US. Not because they are hateful meanies, but because, after all, it is Europe's strategic reserve and they can't sell it all to us because, well, some strategic emergency might come up for them, too.