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An oil glut?

A Reuters columnist says that markets have yet to face up to the fact that there could soon be a “glut” of oil. In other words, the scarcity-mongers are mistaken.

“A final conclusion to draw from the next oil revolution is a little more existential. This is yet another reminder that what both common sense and expert consensus assure us to be true very often isn’t. It was obvious that efficient markets worked and financial deregulation would stimulate economic growth, until the financial crisis and the subsequent international economic recession. It was equally apparent that we were running out of oil – until we weren’t.”

Quite. In these depressing times, it is easy to miss the positives.

16 comments to An oil glut?

  • Actually I read this as saying this guy thinks people who thought efficient markets worked and financial deregulation would stimulate economic growth were also wrong.

    Which also suggests that he thinks we *had* efficient markets and financial deregulation before the financial crisis.

  • Sigivald

    It was obvious that efficient markets worked and financial deregulation would stimulate economic growth, until the financial crisis and the subsequent international economic recession

    To echo Mr. DeHavilland, this guy thinks we had efficient markets and financial deregulation?

    They’re a great idea. We should try them sometime. But we sure as hell didn’t have them in, say, 2006, or 2008. Not in finance, not in real estate.

  • Laird

    I agree with Perry and Sigivald; those were my thoughts exactly.

    But it’s still nice to know that we’re not going to run out of oil anytime soon.

  • President Obama and Secretary Salazar are doing their level best to address the problem of a global oversupply of oil. If England would just get on board and ban drilling in the North Sea, we’d be making real progress.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    You’ve got to pity doom-mongers, haven’t you? The Cold War doesn’t get hot, the Y2K ‘bug’ comes to nothing, and even swine flue (whilst nothing to sneeze at) didn’t do us in. Now Western Civilisation has oil and energy coming out of its’ ears! It’s enough to make a pessimist depressed!

  • Roue le Jour

    Collapsing economies use less oil, and so there is a glut.

    This is good news how?

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    But we’re NOT collapsing. The current depression is not a collapse, and here in Australia, we’re not in any sort of depression!

  • I’m far from convinced there will be a glut of oil. Every oil company – with the possible exception of Saudi Aramco – is straining at the bit to produce as much as possible, and the political obstacles to producing more are formidable. If the Chinese bubble burst we can expect the oil price to fall a bit, but it won’t be a glut.

  • bob sykes

    The currently increasing supplies of oil do not constitute a glut, and they depend on relatively high oil prices. Somewhere around $70 to $90 per bbl depending on whom you ask. So if prices go down, so will the supply.

    That said, it is clear that Julian Simon is correct once again and that the oil peak people simply don’t understand economics at all.

    Once the shales are depleted, there will still be gas clathrates in the ocean and coal. So, expect to be driving gasoline/diesel powered cars for a very long time, probable hundreds of years.

  • CaptDMO

    Which manifestation of oil?

    Crude from the ground?
    The stuff that powers international shipping container ships?
    The stuff that powers uh…power palnts?
    The “just in case” stuff for solar/wind energy?
    The stuff that keeps me cozy, in lieu of using up all the trees for heat/hot water?
    The stuff that powers freight locomotives, trucks, construction, agriculture?
    The “high test” stuff that powers executive/legislative/diplomatic limosines?
    The adulterated/less energy efficient stuff for the “flex” fuel legislation? (how’s that “exess” corn workin’ out for ya”?)
    The stuff I put in my pre 2000 Jeep?
    The stuff used for an astonishing amount of injected plastic crap-available at (ie.) Mall Wart (mostly sub-standard/planned obsolescence,Chinese products) and ever “essential” cell phones/ “credit” cards?
    The stuff for “cosmetics”?

    Which of the above, despite claims of “economic” rationing, does there NEVER seem to have been an actual “shortage” of?

    Have Socialist/fascist/ “activists” (by ANY othe name) EVER run out of gas on the way between their cozy homes, and “work”, at the (US) Capital, UN building, or Center for the “advanced studies” (too complicated for publication/review)of {fill in THIS election-(where-applicable) cycle} fad?

  • jerry

    A minor point –
    The Y2K ‘bug’ ( which wasn’t a bug at all – it came about because, at one time, computer storage was VERY expensive ) didn’t materialize because –

    At long last, after YEARS of persuasion by engineers, systems programmers etc.. companies finally accepted that there was going to be a problem and thousand upon thousands of people worked their collective butts off to prevent what would have been a global catastrophe !!!

    I was there, saw the frustration, aggravation, grief and hard work and to hear someone say ‘it came to nothing’ is something of an insult. It came to nothing BECAUSE of the efforts of many unseen people.

  • Richard Thomas

    Jerry, that may actually be the point. Though Nuke may have somewhat unartfully seemed to imply that no intervention was needed, the fact is that the doom failed to materialize because you can’t simply look at three points on a graph and draw exponential curves to infinity.

  • Y2K? In the late ’70’s I remember laughing with my co workers about how, if the software was still in use, it would fail the instant the year leading digits flipped from 19 to 20.

    As to the rest, the Saudi government budget is dependent on oil being at least $90 per barrel, while BP can make a profit from the US shale fields as long as the price is $40 or over.

    Israel has shale fields somewhere between (depending on the report you read) equal to Saudi reserves to double them. The US has four to eight times Saudi reserves, ditto Canada and Venezuela. And now Russia is claiming between ten to one hundred times the US reserves…..

    The only thing that will prevent a glut is political interference, and that won’t last. I kinda like the idea of living in a world where the Saudi’s have their financial influence smashed.

  • lucklucky

    I contend that the oil would be cheaper already if the scarcity mongers wouldn’t dominate the narrative.

    As always the Leftist-Socialist Media crushes the poor.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Mt point was that doom-mongers seem to assume that nothing can ever be done- doom is just around the next corner! The Y2K bug spawned plenty of tele-disaster scenarios!
    I suppose doom-mongering is exaggerated caution. Neither good nor bad times last forever, so crying doom when times are good strikes a chord of experience. Here in Australia, we have had over twenty years without a recession or depression- and we keep thinking, “Can it last?”

  • The currently increasing supplies of oil do not constitute a glut, and they depend on relatively high oil prices. Somewhere around $70 to $90 per bbl depending on whom you ask. So if prices go down, so will the supply.

    I disagree. In the medium term – meaning 10 years or so – this might be the case, but supply won’t drop on the short term. And the demans slump probably isn’t going to last 10 years. It takes about 10 years to take an oilfield from discovery to production, and from about the 7th year a company is committed to completing it. If there is a demand slump now, it will mean companies will delay Final Investment Decision on projects which would be coming on stream between 2015-2020, and until then you would see almost no difference in the supply. True, some relatively minor upgrade projects might get cancelled, but no company is going to shut in production or do anything other than maximize it, even if demand should fall brining oil prices to $60 per barrel. Perhaps the Saudis will, but nobody else will, no way. And whereas oil companies do tend to panic and bin projects as soon as the oil price dips, they know full well that demand will pick up in a few years and that they’d better be ready to meet it, which means maximizing production. Having worked as a contractor for 2 super majors, and currently working as staff for another, I can assure you that no matter what, maximizing production is the daily task of all oil companies. We get hammered on it on a daily basis, regardless of what the global economy is doing.