Have we reached 'peak oil'? Would the world's industrial output come to a grinding halt when we ran out of fossil fuel.
Peak oil is not about absolute depletion of crude oil and the world running out of it.It is a theory of whether oil extraction have reached its peak and in terminal decline as featured in the 'Hubbart Curve'.
Below is Hubbart's theoretical chart
Click to read:
From the said chart he theorised that oil extraction would decline to zero by the year 2200.
Will it happen? I would think so, maybe, not on the exact Hubbart's time frame, but the day would come when mother earth would run out of fossil fuel. I am also optimistic that by then humans would have found abundance of alternative sources of energy through technological advancement and new inventions capable of mass production of energy producing substances.
The recent high oil prices we saw this year was not the consequence of the law of supply and demand but has an added element of human greed in the form of speculation of oil futures.Again greedy speculators took advantage of this forward and futures contracts and took it to the casinos.
In 1972 the price of crude oil was around US$3.00 a barrel.During the Yom Kippur War or the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973/74 the price of oil quadrupled to US$12.00, not because of shortages but because of Arab's anger at America and the West for having sided with Israel.The Arabs put a brake on productions that increased the price.This year we saw the highest price of over US$150 per barrel fuelled by rising demands and needless to say price highly aggravated by speculations.
Prices have begun to fall over recent weeks as speculators moved out of the market in anticipation of the financial market collapse.The crude oil market is now finding its own price level.Below is a chart showing the prices of crude between 1947 to May 2008:
With increasingly high unemployment in the developed economies, industrial outputs are going to plummet to a low level and consumption of energy would likewise follow.
As more people lose their jobs, businesses going into bankruptcies and reduction in global industrial outputs the demand for oil would show a sharp decline.Consumption would continue to decline as long as the global economy continue to shrink which is expected to continue well into 2009.With reduced global demand prices are expected to fall below US$50 a barrel before the year end.
If the global recession become hard-headed and carry on without any sign of recovery than prices may even drop below US$30 per barrel by the first-half of 2009.
It may sound like good news but it is not.In fact it is a scary scenario, it means the global economy is in the doldrums and there would be widespread hardship among the populace of the world.
Those who have cash are kings and can go bargain hunting.