In an interview with ABC, President Obama gave his views of opening the U.S. oil reserves to combat high oil prices:
"We are monitoring the situation very closely. The strategic petroleum reserve was designed for when oil actually shuts off," Obama told ABC.
"The reserves, I think, are something that we've got to be very careful about. And what we don't want to do is catch ourselves in a situation, particularly when things are uncertain in the Middle East, where we're using it now and it turns out we need more later."
While I shed a tear every time I fill up, I have to agree with the President on this. The oil reserves aren’t a silver bullet to high prices. Once the reserves are gone, they have to be refilled. What if prices are even higher then? Well that’s more we have to pay out to the reserves.
Another, very plausible scenario is the instability in the Middle East right now. We are talking about a region that 100 or 1,000 year uprisings are not uncommon. If we opened up the reserves now, we don’t know what might happen tomorrow or next year. We could see some major uprising or war that shuts off a big chunk of the supply. With depleted reserves, we would be stuck with even higher prices.
Sadly there isn’t a simple solution to the current oil prices. Some say we should start drilling here, but even if we started today, we wouldn’t see anything pumping out for at least 10 years.