<I> 60 Minutes:</i> Another Gulf Rich In Oil

Gulf Of Mexico May Have World's Richest Reserves

Some of the potentially richest new oil fields are right in America’s backyard and not in Alaska, says an international oil executive.

In a 60 MINUTES interview with Lesley Stahl, Lord John Browne, the CEO of British Petroleum/AMOCO, says, “The deep-water, Gulf of Mexico part of the United States, is probably one of the greatest new oil provinces in the entire world.” The interview will be broadcast Sunday at 7 p. m. ET/PT.

Browne also believes there’s more oil to be pumped from there than from all of Alaska. It’s so promising that, in a few years, the Gulf should be providing just as much oil – an estimated 1.75 million barrels per day – as the U.S. now imports from Saudi Arabia.

But will the U.S. ever become oil rich enough to provide for all its needs?

“Absolutely not. It’s not possible,” says Browne. America is estimated to hold only three percent of the world’s proven oil resources but consumes about 25 percent of all the oil produced – most imported from 50 countries, he says. The U.S., thanks mostly to millions of autos and gas-guzzling SUVs, uses so much oil that Saudi Arabia’s contribution is just 9 percent of its daily consumption.

Independence from oil producing countries, especially those in the oil-rich Middle East, won’t happen unless drastic changes take place, changes that have begun, but proceed at a snail’s pace.

According to Toyota’s James Olson, an electric car that runs on hydrogen could lead to an almost oil-free future for Americans. “But there’s a lot to do,” he concedes. That includes changing gas stations to hydrogen stations, gasoline refineries to hydrogen factories, all of which could take up to 40 years before most people are driving such vehicles.

Hybrids, cars that run on both gasoline and electricity, are available now, they’re just not what SUV-happy Americans want and therefore not big in automakers’ plans. Sales of Toyota’s Prius, a hybrid that gets more than 50 miles per gallon in city driving, constitute less than 1 percent of its U.S. sales.

Conservationists also like the Prius for its emissions. “When you drive a Prius in Los Angeles, the exhaust coming out of the tailpipe is cleaner than the ambient air…most days,” he tells Stahl.

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