Raise your hand if you live in a country in which the press, or even the general public, understands anything at all about supply and demand as it relates to the oil industry. If your hand is in the air, you are in the tiny minority, gentle reader. We’re certainly not blessed with an overabundance of intelligence or understanding here in the US. A recent headline from CBS News pretty much sums it up: “Why aren’t oil companies drilling?” The subhead reads, “CBS Evening News: Oil companies are only exploring one-third of US land they have rights to.” Wow, where to begin? OK, item 1. Oil prices are in the toilet, relatively speaking. A recent speaker put it succinctly when he said, “We’re not going to produce any oil if we have to give it away.” This is why rigs are being stacked in some of the country’s hottest plays – there is a cost to finding and developing oil and gas, and most businesses prefer to make a profit, not operate at a loss. Item 2: The places oil companies actually WANT to drill are, by and large, still off-limits. In the news this week was much talk about Energy Secretary Ken Salazar making the rounds on the West Coast, listening to concerned Californians who, despite the fact that their gasoline prices are always higher than the rest of the country and their state is monumentally huge, still don’t want to sully that Pacific Coast view with offshore infrastructure. Meanwhile, Alaskans have been meeting this week, also with Salazar, to square off against one another to discuss the future of their state’s oil and natural gas development. According to the Anchorage Daily News, vast amounts of hydrocarbons could be opened up to leasing if the oil industry holds sway. “The [Interior] department’s Minerals Management Service handles oil and gas leasing in federal waters off Alaska’s coast,” the article states. “The MMS estimates Alaska’s offshore energy basins might hold 27 Bbo and 132 Tcf, much more fossil fuel than has ever been produced from land on the North Slope. But many tribal governments oppose drilling because they fear potential damage to lucrative commercial fisheries in the Bristol Bay region and subsistence hunts in Arctic waters.” Item 3: Oil companies are actively drilling, even in this country. At last week’s Developing Unconventional Gas conference, several speakers commented on their continued development plans, despite low commodity prices. Which leads to item 4: If some of the leased land is not being drilled, um, er, well, maybe that darned geology is to blame. In the CBS report, John Felmi, chief economist with the American Petroleum Institute, said, “The leases aren’t being drilled because there’s probably no oil there.” One wonders how hard Felmi had to work not to snort while he made the statement. And this is a choice comment from the reporter covering this story: “A recent US Government Accountability Office report suggests otherwise. Bottom line: oil companies only ‘develop leases when it is most profitable to do so.’” No. REALLY? Does this scream “conspiracy” or what?? Seriously, since when was the oil industry a not-for-profit organization? Of course oil companies are going to develop the most profitable areas first. Then they’ll go back to the less profitable areas and work them over as well. It is this business approach, I believe, that has staved off Peak Oil for so many years. But don’t try telling that to the US media. It just doesn’t make for very good news.