Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oil Prices are in Play: No Safe Harbour There

Chemical engineer Robert Rapier is normally quite reserved and cautious in his predictions. But Robert recently predicted that in 2012, US oil imports will be up, the price of oil will be at least $150 per barrel, or both.

I doubt that Robert will win any bets on such predictions. But when it comes to oil prices, there are no truly safe bets.

US petroleum imports for 2009 were down 9.2%. Not all of the drop was due to reduced economic activity. New oil and gas finds had a lot to do with it. New pipelines from Canada bringing oil sands to US refineries plus new Gulf of Mexico finds can reduce imports in the future.

In fact, the general outlook for petroleum prices for the near future does not look that good. Again, not all of the downside is due to reduced demand due to economic downturns.

Canadian oil sands activity appears to be enjoying a definite uptick.

And it is not just US oil companies that are interested in the Gulf of Mexico.

Peak oil doomers have been predicting $500 a barrel oil prices for many, many years now. Their deadlines come and go, yet they are not discouraged. They come up with an excuse for earlier failures, and "reasons" why the next prediction is certain to come true. And on it goes . . . .

Robert Rapier is not a doomer, but neither is he in possession of a generalist's knowledge of all of the factors that influence oil prices. His numbers relating to the facts of energy are likely to be correct. His predictions, not so much.

Political peak oil -- due to wars, prohibitions, nationalisations, incompetence, and other actions of oil dictators and wannabe dictators -- can change the picture instantaneously. The Obama - Pelosi regime (including the Obama EPA) is bringing incompetence to new heights, and malicious regulation, taxation, and litigation to the economic breaking point.

Something has to give, and I suspect it will be the O - P reich, if there is any justice in the world.

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