View Full Version : Here's the real scoop on boycotting "foreign oil" usage

04-06-02, 09:45 AM
Okay guys here's the scoop on the "foreign oil supports terrorism" e-mail that is now circulating. Keep up to date on urban legend and the utterly ridiculous at www.snopes.com

Claim: Spurning gasoline from Shell, Chevron, Texaco, Exxon, and Mobil will cut off the funding of terrorists.

Status: False.

Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2002]

Nothing is more frustrating to me than the feeling that every time I fill-up the tank, I am sending my money to people who are trying to kill me, my
family, and my friends. It turns out that some oil companies import a lot of middle eastern oil and others do not import any. I thought it might be
interesting for Americans to know which oil companies are the best to buy their gas from.

Here is the list:

Top 4 companies that import middle eastern oil (for the period 9/1/00 - 8/31/01). By the way, 86% of all middle eastern oil comes from Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Shell 205,742,000 barrels of oil
Chevron/Texaco 144,332,000
Exxon/Mobil 130,082,000
Marathon 117,740,000

If you do the math at $30/barrel, these imports amount to about $18 billion. That's a lot of money.

Here are some large companies that do not import much Middle Eastern oil:

Citgo 0 barrels of oil
Sunoco 0
Conoco 0
Sinclair 0
Phillips 0
BP Amoco 62,231,000

All this information is available from the Department of Energy and can be easily documented. Refineries located in the U.S. are required to state where they get their oil and how much they are importing. They report on a monthly basis.

Keep this list in your car; share it with friends. Stop paying for terrorism!

Origins: Nothing is more frustrating than all that's wrong with this exhortation to stop "funding terrorism" by not buying gasoline from companies who import crude oil from the Middle East. To wit:

The political na´vetÚ that asserts "Middle Eastern" equals "terrorist," and that by purchasing gasoline refined from Middle Eastern crude oil you are "sending your money to people who are trying to kill you." Not everyone from the Middle East is a terrorist, nor does every terrorist hail from the Middle East. Moreover, groups such as the Al-Qaeda have built up financial investments and portfolios so complex and diverse over the years that they can operate quite effectively without receiving direct revenues from oil exports.

The notion that because a refinery purchases crude oil from a non-Middle Eastern country, they're not buying Middle Eastern oil. A good deal of the crude oil purchased from Russia, for example, is oil from Iraqi fields sold through Russian middlemen, but it still shows up in the refineries' books as having been imported from Russia.

The implication that most of the oil exported to the U.S. comes from the Middle East. According to the Energy Information Administration (as reported by The New York Times), the biggest exporters of oil to the USA in 2000 were (in millions of barrels per day):

Canada: 1.69
Saudi Arabia: 1.57
Venezuela: 1.52
Mexico: 1.36
Nigeria: 0.89
Iraq: 0.61

The shaky grasp of supply and demand evidenced by the proffered scheme. Oil refineries generally operate at close to full capacity; if everyone in the USA stopped buying gasoline from Shell, Chevron, Texaco, Exxon, and Mobil, and instead purchased their gas only from Citgo, Sunoco, Conoco, Sinclair, Phillips, or BP Amoco-supplied service stations, the companies in the latter group wouldn't be able to come close to satisfying the sudden increase in demand for gasoline, because their refinery capacity is limited. Their supplies would run out, and prices would skyrocket. And even if they could somehow come up with extra refinery capacity necessary to fulfill the increased demand, they'd almost certainly have to turn to Middle Eastern exporters for the additional crude they'd need to supply those refineries.

After crude oil has been pumped out of the ground, put in tankers, shipped around the world, refined into gasoline, and delivered to service stations, that gasoline can't necessarily be traced back to its point of origin. Nor do oil companies sell only gasoline to their own branded stations -- that a consumer buys gasoline at a non-Shell service station is no guarantee that the gasoline
didn't come from Shell, or that it wasn't refined from Middle Eastern crude.

04-06-02, 12:17 PM
Thanks for the info Multimom. I think that within that whole urban legend is a much more widely believed myth and that is that most or all of our oil comes from the Middle East, which is simply not the case. It's interesting how misinformation gets propagated because people simply believe what someone else says, without doing a double check.

04-06-02, 05:09 PM
For what it is worth, here in sydney australia we have abunch of different service station chains and companies.

But all of our petrol comes from a shell refinery in newcastle. All of the petrol chains purchase from shell.

If you boycotted the listed oil companies then it is quite likely the ones not being boytcotted would just by surplus production from the refinerys of the companies that are being boycotted.