The Truth About Oil'

ABC's Gibson examines the petroleum industry in 20/20 special

NEW YORK -- On Friday, ABC News will run "Over a Barrel: The Truth About Oil" on its 20/20. Anchored by Charles Gibson, "Over a Barrel" moves up the pipeline, from the gas station to the refinery to speculators on NYMEX to supply and geopolitics, while asking at each "choke point" in the supply chain, "What affects the price you pay?"

"There's no blame game," according to a review by Newsday, "but Gibson at times cautiously lifts an accusing finger at the speculators, or the Middle Eastern oil lords or companies that have limited refinery construction. [image-nocss] Mostly, though, the experts weigh in." They include Energy Secretary Steven Chu, energy-focused business icon T. Boone Pickens and former General Wesley Clark, who continues to suggest the war in Iraq was based on oil. (Click here for a CSPTV segment on Pickens.)

Here is how ABC describes the upcoming special:

With Americans facing another summer season of rollercoaster gas prices, ABC News' Charles Gibson has traveled the country to uncover some of the little known secrets of the oil industry, including why prices fluctuate so much and what exactly is behind it.

From the trail of oil pipelines snaking through Oklahoma to the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, Gibson crisscrossed the country in search of the answer to one salient questionwhat is the true cost of oil? He reports from Cushing, Oklahoma, a remote outpost where the price of a barrel of oil there dictates the price nationally. He travels 160 miles off the coast of Louisiana to see one of the deepest drilling oil rigs in America and visits "refinery row" along the Gulf Coast, where a third of America's oil refineries are concentrated.

Despite talk of dwindling oil reserves, new technologies have vastly increased the amount of oil, providing a larger reserve today than a decade ago. Last summer's $147 a barrel price baffled many Americans, but Wall Street insiders tell Gibson that speculators caused the price to skyrocket.

Americans consume a quarter of the world's oil, yet make up only 3% of the global population. When confronted by Gibson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu admits "we're headed for a train wreck." Chu explains how a new generation of biofuels could help the U.S. decrease its dependence on foreign oil. In addition to interviews with dozens of experts and industry leaders, Gibson also sat down with General Wesley Clark, the former NATO commander who discussed the role that oil played in the Iraq war.

"This is a monstrously big subject.... ABC News can't quite give us the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but instead offers what appears to be a reasonable, clear-headed and sober approximation," said Newsday. "Simply put, we consume a lot of oil, and the suppliers want to keep it that way. Yup, we're addicts, but the program doesn't tell us how to break this addiction, or how to curtail speculation or keep prices low. Moreover, it doesn't follow the pipeline deeply enough. Aren't some of the world's great oil fields, like Saudi Arabia's Ghawar or Mexico's Cantarell, already in decline? How will this affect prices at the pump? Still, all told, a very interesting hour."

"Over a Barrel: The Truth About Oil" airs on a special edition of ABC's 20/20 on Friday, July 24 at 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET.