We're at war. This is not a war on terrorism or the war involving military troops involving guns, missiles and bombs being dropped from fighter jets.
Instead, this is a war based on the energy we use to power our cars, trucks, planes and trains. It is for the oil and natural gas we use to heat our homes and places of business.
This war has an impact on our economy now but has the potential to have a dramatic impact on American's use of anything relying on oil or gas for years to come.
In interviews I did last week with a couple of people with a unique perspective of why our gasoline prices are currently at historic lows, and why the price of a barrel of oil has dipped below $30 it became apparent they both feel strongly the war being waged on the United States by the Saudis and the OPEC nations of the Mideast is part of a long-term strategy on their part to tip the supply and demand of oil on a global scale for years to come.
Pittsburg State University Assistant Professor Michael Davidsson said while the bulk of the nation's consumers are currently benefitting from the low prices of gasoline and oil, that could change in years to come.
Overproduction on the part of Mideast oil producing nations is helping drop the price of a barrel of oil and the gasoline it produces. Davidsson said the move is not philanthropic gesture on the part of the Saudis and their counterparts to give consumers worldwide a break in their pocketbooks.
Instead, Davidsson said their goal is to drive oil prices to such a low level for a long enough period of time that new drilling and exploration among U.S. producers will no longer be feasible. The move should result in a drastic cutback in fracking and the drilling of new wells and have an impact on America's domestic oil supply for years to come.
While OPEC nations are also feeling the impact of low oil prices now, Davidsson said they can probably weather the drop for as long as a year to a year-and-a-half.
"They want our fracking industry to go way," he said in an interview. "It just depends on how bad the Mideast wants to break us."
Jim Cornish, of Chanute, and president of the Eastern Kansas Oil and Gas Association, agreed with Davidsson's analysis.
"The Saudis and OPEC are intent on destroying the fracking industry in the U.S.," Cornish said. "They're protecting their own interest."
He said for Mideast producers, their long-term best interest is to see fracking in the U.S. go away. "If OPEC continues on their path it would not take a lot to really impact world markets," he said.
Davidsson said he would not be surprised to see the price of a barrel of oil drop to $20. And, if OPEC producers want to really push the U.S. fracking industry to the brink, they would probably allow prices to get as low as $13 a barrel.
Sustained low oil prices for a long period of time means the U.S. oil and fracking industry will be in real trouble that could take years for it to recover from whenever oil prices recover back to the $80-a-barrel, or $100-a-barrel or higher.
If and when that happens it means the U.S. will be at the mercy of energy producers from outside our borders. It means we will lose our energy independence and it means we will be vulnerable in time of war or blockades of those incoming supplies of oil.
One of the big reasons this country prevailed during World War II was our ready supply of oil. Let us not forget the lessons that history has taught us — oil greased the war machines of the past for the nation and could do so again if the need arises — but only if we are not overly dependent upon sources of energy from countries outside our borders.
— Mike Elswick is a staff writer for The Morning Sun. His column runs on Thursdays. He can be emailed at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ mike_elswick.