Emphasis on “Little”

When I saw this [via TPM], I figured I had to be reading it wrong:

“Our strategic reserve is sufficiently large enough to guard against any major supply disruption over the next few months,” [Bush] said. “So by deferring deposits until the fall we’ll leave a little more oil on the market.”

The amount of remaining oil that was scheduled to be delivered to the reserve was 2.1 million barrels in May, which would supply about two hours of the average 21 million barrels of oil the United States consumes each day. “Every little bit helps,” Bush said.
Bush unveils plan to counter high oil prices

So hold on now. The president is saying he’s going to allow the oil companies to hold back petroleum reserve deposits until the fall — fair enough. Except (at least as far as May is concerned) that represents just 1/310 of the average usage? Then who the hell cares?

Clearly this is a P.R. move on the part of the Administration, but I have to say the Reuters story is also rather weak on context. If you look at Wikipedia’s entry on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, for example, you’ll see that the reserve holds some 727 million barrels, and is currently full (a process that took years from the 2001 order.) However, according to the “drawdowns” section, there’s only about 10 million barrels outstanding.

So, assuming demand in May is typical (entirely unlikely, but hang with me), that’s May/June/July/August = 4 * ~600m barrels/mo = 2.4bn barrels consumed. And we’re deferring 10m barrels to get back out in the market? Wow, that’s almost 0.5%! Amazing.

…or maybe I’m missing something altogether. It would be nice if Reuters took a little more time to explain.

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