Everyone has heard the knock on corporations -- they are supposedly short-term focused and incapable of making investments that don't pump up the current quarter. We hear this in particular from government officials, right before they try to sell some egregious bit of pork-spending that is supposedly for "investment" in things these awful corporate guys won't invest in.
But of course the entire existence of the oil industry is proof-positive that this knock on large corporations can't be universally true, or else the oil industry would have gone out of business for lack of reserves some time in the late 19th century. The oil industry routinely makes huge investments that take 10 years or more to even start to pay out (e.g. Alaska pipeline, shale oil, deep Gulf). One major reason that supplies are currently tight is that most of the world's oil reserves are held by state companies (like Pemex) that are incapable of making the long-term investments their fields needs because there is so much pressure on the government to divert the oil profits into social programs rather than into renewing the reserve base.
And now look who is singing the same tune as Hugo Chavez and the other oil producing kleptocrats - Barack Obama:
"Opening our coastlines to offshore drilling would take at least a
decade to produce any oil at all, and the effect on gasoline prices
would be negligible at best since America only has 3 percent of the
world's oil," Obama said in a statement that did not explicitly
distinguish between oil and gas drilling."
Of course, offshore drilling was approved 10 years ago, but was vetoed by Bill Clinton. I don't believe for a second that this is his real reason for opposing drilling (in fact, I believe him to be in the pocket of radical environmentalists and perfectly happy to demagogue oil companies for high prices rather than take responsibility for past government action). However, if we take him at his word, this is an absolutely unbelievable lack of long-term focus from a man people like to call "visionary."