It's fashionable to bash the theory of "peak oil," the idea that world oil demand has already passed or is about to pass world supplies. But doesn't peak oil look something like this?
A central reason that oil supplies are not rising much is that major producers outside the OPEC cartel, like Russia, Mexico and Norway, are showing troubling signs of sluggishness. Unlike OPEC, whose explicit goal is to regulate the supply of oil to keep prices up, these countries are the free traders of the oil market, with every incentive to produce flat-out at a time of high prices.
But for a variety of reasons, including sharply higher drilling costs and a rise of nationalistic policies that restrict foreign investment, these countries are failing to increase their output. They seem stuck at about 50 million barrels of oil a day, or 60 percent of the world’s oil supplies, with few prospects for growth.
“According to normal economic theory, and the history of oil, rising prices have two major effects,” said Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the International Energy Agency in Paris. “They reduce demand and they induce oil supplies. Not this time.”
For most American consumers, the "lede" of the article is buried way down:
The outlook for oil supplies “signals a period of unprecedented scarcity,” Jeff Rubin, an analyst at CIBC World Markets, said last week. Oil prices might exceed $200 a barrel by 2012, he said, a level that would very likely mean $7-a-gallon gasoline in the United States.
I wonder what kind of gas tax "holiday" President McCain will propose in his 2012 re-election campaign. Meanwhile, it's slightly off-topic, but maybe the good people of New Delhi, pictured at top, should look into the idea of reverse commuting.