President Carter will fail to meet his goal of cutting American dependence on imported oil through a boost in domestic coal production over the next seven seven years, according to a congressional energy study released yesterday.
While Carter's energy plan calls for reducing oil imports from 8 million to 6 million barrels a day by 1985, the Library of Congress study says imports from the Middle East and North African countries alone will rise from the current 2.5 million barrels to 7.4 million a day by the mid 1980s.
"If our projections prove correct, there is no doubt the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) oil cartel will become stronger than it is now by the early 1980s," said Dr. Herman T. Franssen, who headed the nine-month study.
The study further concludes that Carter's goal of reducing the annual growth in domestic energy consumption from about 3.5 per cent a year to less than 2 per cent by the mid-1980s will not be met. Instead, the study projects a "base case" 2.9 per cent average energy growth rate between now and 1990.
The study, conducted by a task force of 30 energy analysts and based on extensive polling of the oil industry, concludes that under the most optimistic political and economic assumptions, domestic oil production will rise from 10 million barrels a day in 1976 to only ablut 11 million barrels a day by 1985.The National Energy adviser James R. Schlesinger Jr. made a similar projection.
The study also concludes that, under the most optimistics assumptions, domestic natural gas production will decline frm 19.7 trillion cubic feet in 1976 to about 16.9 trillion cubic feet by 1985.
The assumptions include:
Early congressional action to decontrol new natural gas prices.
An aggressive program to develop potential natural gas resources on the Outer Continental Shelf.
Completion of a natural gas pipeline system to move gas from Alaska's North Slope to the lower 48 states.
A very high rate of finding new gas through 1990.
"It is also clear," Franssen said, "that without decontrol, supplies of natural gas will be even lower." A recent Office of Technology, Assessment study undertaken by Congress came to a similar conclusion.
On the other hand, Franssen said, "our study tends to confirm hte suspisions of the Carter asministration that there is no such thing as infinite elasticity of supply - in other words, if energy prices go up, the additions of new supplies will not be as high as the Federal Energy Administration had concluded."
The greatest shortcoming of the Carter program, the study data indicate, has to do with the administration's goal of displacing oil imports by boosting coal production to 1.1 billion tons a year by 1985.
"Our analysts of coal is faf more pessimistic; industrial users simply will not convert from oil and natural gas to coal unless they are forced to convert," Franssen said.
"It is highly unlikely that the coal utilization goals of the administration will be reached," the study says.
Franssen, and the more than 30 energy analysts who worked on the study, conclude that coal production will reise from about 650 million tons a year now to 940 million tons - 200 million tons short of Carter's 1985 goal.
Another major factor in coal production is the declining energy content - measured in British thermal units - of coal mined, the study says. As production shifts from the higher BTU coal fields in the East to lower BTU strip-mining operations in the West, the average energy content of a ton of coal will fall from 11,100 BTUs in 1977 to 10,100 in 1985.
The study disagrees sharply with a Central Intelligence Agency study Carter released the week he unveiled his energy plan last April. The CIA study concluded that the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc countries would import up to 3.5 million barrels of oil a day by the mid-1980s.
"The Soviet Union is not expected to become a major net exporter or importer of energy throughout the 1980s," the latest study says.