Wednesday, February 14, 2007

US Military and Energy - Intro

Over a week I have been putting together my old files on US military oil consumption statistics into one big file. I have made the necessary updates and once again the results didn’t surprise me. Since I do all these hobby activity after work it takes more time than you can imagine. And good luck to anyone who wants to dig in the US military oil consumption statistics.

As far as I could follow from the limited free version of Statscounter, the majority of visitors to my blog are from the US military and defense industry servers. Therefore I would be very grateful if people could suggest (by email) publications or reports I oversaw or am not aware of. In the following posts you will see which ones I use.

I was waiting for the Defense Energy Support Center factbook for Fiscal year 2006. Will it ever come out? Even though it is not an easy read report, it contains a lot of useful information.

Military oil consumption has been getting more and more attention over the past few years. Reducing energy consumption, reducing oil dependency, increasing use alternative fuels, targets, Executive Orders, awards etc has already helped producing thousands of pages. Meanwhile there are more and more conference presentations (as well as conference subjects) on military energy consumption. About five years ago I could barely see one or two article related to US military energy consumption in a month. Now, there is almost no passing day without any news article or report on it.

For example, Senator Dick Lugar’s website contains a section on “Oil and the Military,”[1] And the Wall Street Journal ran an article on military oil savings efforts in January 2007.[2]

This is the good news. At least people understand the vital strategic importance of oil to military. The bad news is that comprehensive and coherent data on US military energy consumption (hence oil) is still lacking, at least publicly.

How much energy by fuel type does the US military consume? How much of each fuel type is used in stationary and mobility activities broken down by military services (Air Force, Navy, Army etc)? Also how much of it is attributed to the US and to overseas bases?

Sound simple, no? But I am convinced that even the Department of Defense cannot answer all those questions. And yet the Department spends millions of dollars on reports, research and development on alternative fuels and energy saving options.

The DoD spent $20 billion on energy in Fiscal year 2006. Of that amount $17 billion was on oil only. The funny thing is that even though the DOD spent 85% of its energy bill on oil, the share of oil (in terms of paper, ink, time and brain cells) is not probably more than 15% of the total efforts on alternative energy sources and on reducing energy consumption.

Over the past 20 years oil constituted over 70% of total DOD energy consumption. In 2006 this share was 77%. And yet most of the emphasis is still on reducing energy consumption in facilities (buildings etc), which use mostly electricity. You can find millions of words on solar, wind, geothermal etc published in military sites. But when it comes to oil, what you read either fantasy land type of alternatives (such as adding 3% of alternative into conventional oil) or synthetic fuels (as 50% blend only). I have yet to read about the real efforts on conservation (excluding the reductions planned for flight training) and on increasing fuel efficiency.

It is oil that runs about 11,000 US military aircrafts and helicopters, 200 combat and support ships, 28,000 armored vehicles, 187,000 fleet vehicles (passenger cars, busses etc), 140,000 High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles.

Yes, the US military is completely addicted to oil. Unsurprisingly, its oil consumption for aircraft, ships, ground vehicles and facilities makes the Pentagon the single largest oil consumer in the world. By the way, according to the 2006 CIA World Factbook rankings there are only 35 countries (out of 210) in the world that consume more oil per day than the Pentagon.

I am currently working on an article which will contain lots of hard data with comparisons. I am not sure whether my blog is a place to post them because it would contain a lot of tables and charts. And it is a big pain (to me) to convert everything on picture but I will do my best. Maybe I will try to publish it in a military journal. Anyway, I will let you know.

[1] The charts on Senator’s site need an update.
[2] Masood Farivar, “Military Seeks Oil Savings,” The Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2007. The article is behind a firewall but you can read it on Skybuilt’s site. By the way, you will see my opinions in there as well.

Tags: Military Energy Consumption, Alternative Fuels, Department of Defense, Military Oil Consumption


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