How Will Katrina's Punch Hit You At the Pump?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 29, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight, Katrina has hit the oil industry hard, forcing shut down of rigs in the Gulf. These reserves make up about 25 percent of U.S. production. This of course drives up the cost of gas all over the country.

Question, what can be done? Will President Bush release oil reserves?

Joining us now from Chicago, Phil Flynn, senior managing analyst at Al Aron Trading Corporation.

All right, Mr. Flynn, best guess, is the president opening up the strategic reserves to keep the prices down?

PHIL FLYNN, SENATOR ENERGY ANALYST: I think he is. And maybe not just to keep the prices down, but to keep the refinery running.

The main issue here is because the Louisiana offshore oil port, what's known as "The Loop," has been shut down. And that's going to cause a real supply tightness of crude oil getting to the Midwest, where we desperately need it to make gasoline.

So I think that the president is going to hear the call from oil refiners, hey, we need help. And I think he'll loan some oil out from the reserve. But we might not know exactly how much until we get a full impact of the damage.

O'REILLY: All right. So if he takes the strategic reserves and he brings it to the refinery, the feds get involved, that will alleviate some of the so-called shortages that we face now, correct?

FLYNN: Well, it could in the Midwest, but not if we lose some refineries around Louisiana. So that's the big issue.

O'REILLY: All right. So whether the refineries can get up and running quickly, they don't have power down there, we don't know how long it's going to be that they have power, and this and that.

FLYNN: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: You know, the American consumer can't take much more at the pump. And I don't know if the politicians understand how intense this is. Because now we have winter on the horizon, home heating oil, I mean, people are going to be getting bankrupted. And they're going to get angry. Now this storm, will this impact home heating oil?

FLYNN: Absolutely, Bill. And I'm afraid it's going to drive prices maybe up 30 percent. And if you're at home right now, I'm giving you a warning right now. It's going to be the most expensive winter we've ever had. Make whatever preparations you can today, because I'm telling you right now, this is not going to be pretty this winter.

O'REILLY: All right. Now what preparations could people make?

FLYNN: Well, I mean, call your utilities. Find out if there's any ways you can lock in prices, a budget plan, see what you can do to make your home more energy efficient. Obviously, this is not going to totally alleviate the problem, but at least if you're aware, you can start making plans now.

O'REILLY: Well, I think you're giving very good advice. Wood-burning stoves, for example, people can buy them.

FLYNN: Well, absolutely.

O'REILLY: And heat portions of the house with that. You can get new windows and caulk your old ones.

FLYNN: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: You can look into solar panels.

FLYNN: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: There are a whole bunch of options that people can do.

FLYNN: Right.

O'REILLY: ...because I agree with you. I don't want to see the folks get hurt.

FLYNN: Right.

O'REILLY: And I just see, you know, between OPEC, the greedy American oil companies, and I don't care what they tell you.

FLYNN: Right.

O'REILLY: ...they're going to gouge it.

FLYNN: Well.

O'REILLY: And the situation of the national disaster that we're looking at here, there's no way it turns around that quickly.

FLYNN: Not real quickly, but I will say this. It's going to take billions of dollars investment to keep up with the demand growth here in the U.S. And this is a wake-up call. We dodged a bullet. Our prayers were answered. This could have been — as bad as it's going to be, Bill, it could have been a heck of a lot worse.

O'REILLY: Yes, we can have another one three weeks from now, though.

FLYNN: We sure can.

O'REILLY: You know, I mean, yes, this could have been worse.


O'REILLY: But this basically — look, we have been way too dependent on oil — foreign oil and everything else. And everybody knows that, but our politicians have let us down.

FLYNN: Yes. We have.

O'REILLY: Now if you were living in Illinois, you do, in Chicago.


O'REILLY: ...and you're just making $60,000, $70,000 a year, you would take aggressive action right this moment, all right, to do everything you could to keep your home like a fortress.

FLYNN: Right.

O'REILLY: you don't waste any oil.

FLYNN: Right. I absolutely — I mean, there's no doubt about it. And you know, the amazing thing, up until now, even with these high prices, a lot of consumers have been consuming even more. I mean, this is not — but the key thing here is that this could be different. I mean, this could be the potential that pushes us over the edge, Bill. And we can't afford to lose these refineries for a long period of time, because this could push us into an oil shock if these refineries are down...

O'REILLY: Well, I have confidence that the authorities are going to understand that and do everything humanly possible to get these refineries up and running, but we'll keep a close eye on it.

Mr. Flynn, thanks very much for your expertise. We appreciate it.

FLYNN: Thank you.

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