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That's good news too for oil workers, petroleum engineers and geologists, as even fields once thought tapped out are getting attention. Sites like oilfieldworkers. com are touting jobs for $100 a day, with no experience needed. Is gushing oil too icky for you? Hate living in camps outdoors? Oil companies are looking for cooks and medics too, say the ads. At oilfield jobs ok.com the come-on is for 700 jobs in Oklahoma, paying $20,000 to $60,000, with benefits, flex hours and job training. "Great opportunities for hardworking guys like you!" says the ad.
Oil has also been a great opportunity for hardworking guys who run countries that are on less than chummy terms with the U.S. Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Presidents of Venezuela and Iran, respectively, have benefited from the rhetoric of U.S. foreign policy. The Administration's confrontational response to Iran's nuclear policy and Venezuela's anticapitalism is actually making those countries richer and their rulers more popular by driving up the price of oil, a commodity they possess much of. In Venezuela the self-proclaimed Bolivarian revolutionary Chávez has taken state control of some oil fields and threatened ExxonMobil and other oil companies with raising royalty payments and lowering their partnership interests.
When oil traders in New York City's Mercantile Exchange hear Iran threaten to stop pumping in a market that is already tight, they immediately bid up the price of contracts for future oil delivery. That cycle of fear isn't the only thing sending prices higher. Hedge funds, sniffing profits, are pouring money into oil and other commodities. The chase has added $10 to $15 to the price of a barrel of oil, say economists. Nor do the fundamentals of global oil offer much hope for lower prices over the long run. The growth in demand is exceeding the growth of supply by 400,000 bbl. a day, fed by the rapidly expanding Chinese and Indian economies.
Americans, however, are the original gas hogs. The U.S. uses more oil per day than any other country--4.5% of the world's population guzzling 25% of the planet's petroleum output. But voters viscerally blame their petrodependency on the man and the party in charge. In a recent CNN/ Gallup poll, 75% of those surveyed said a President could control oil prices; 71% said this President wasn't doing enough to bring them down.
Conversely, many analysts argue that the best way to create new energy sources and encourage conservation is to raise gasoline prices, not lower them. Fadel Gheit, senior energy analyst with Oppenheimer & Co., defends Exxon Mobil while blasting politicians and consumers. "We're a bunch of crybabies. They pay the equivalent of $6 a gallon for gas in Germany," he says. But with elections looming and consumers fuming, the Republicans can't ignore what every TV news show is headlining the Pain at the Pump. The cost of gas may be high now, but for the Republicans by November, it could be a lot higher.