“This is not some pie-in-the-sky kind of thing,” Romney told a modest crowd outside a truck warehouse in New Mexico. “This is a real, achievable objective, and I have a chart that’s still, despite the wind, still holding up up here.”
While Romney stressed the idea of independence, the plan relies heavily on imports from Canada and Mexico, two of the world’s biggest oil producers. Hence the use of the phrase “North American” before energy independence.
With storm clouds rolling in, Romney turned to a bar graph propped perilously next to him on a makeshift easel to make the sale. But first, this: “These guys have held it up with about every piece of weight you can think of,” Romney said. “You can’t read the writing, it’s too far back, but I can read it even from here so I’m going to tell you what it says.”
The United States produces about two-thirds of the oil needed to meet its own demands, he said. He pointed to a gray bar showing “conventional sources,” meaning current domestic wells, then detailed where oil production would expand under his plan.
Romney, gesturing at his chart, said his plan would result in 2 million additional barrels per day in offshore drilling, and 2 million additional barrels in “tight oil — that’s oil that comes from places where you have to use fracking technology to get it out.” He cited the Bakken range in North Dakota and sources in New Mexico. In both areas, oil companies are using a combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to tap previously uneconomic resources.
Looking to U.S. neighbors, Romney said, “Canada has oil sands, we’re going to take advantage of those and build the Keystone Pipeline,” adding, “that last little bar that I have there is Mexico.
“Mexico, I’m not counting on any increase there,” he said. “They’ve actually been declining slightly.” But he added that he would work with the country’s new political leadership to develop technologies in Mexico to boost production.
“The net-net of all this, as you can see, is by 2020, we’re able to produce somewhere between 23 million and 28 million barrels per day of oil, and we won’t need to buy any oil from the Middle East or Venezuela or anywhere else where we don’t want to,” Romney said. That figure would include output from Canada and Mexico, according to Energy Information Administration figures.
To reach those totals, Romney also cited output of biofuels — ethanol or diesel, for instance — which would produce about 1 million barrels a day in additional capacity. While Romney has criticized subsidies and tax breaks for renewable energy sources, his white paper said he would preserve the government-mandated renewable fuels standard, which requires oil refiners to blend minimum amounts of biofuels into gasoline. That mandate has helped prop up demand for biofuels in recent years.