Robert Rapier, a petroleum engineer and blogger, recently posted an ‘Open Letter to Our Next President.’ He has recently been doing a good job of showing why ideas like a summer gas tax holiday or suing OPEC for the right to buy oil at the price we want are wrong-headed popularity stunts. He has also been doing a good job of highlighting the degree to which current petroleum prices are largely the product of long-term trends. If more and more people want ever-more oil, at the same time as existing fields are producing flat or declining yields and new discoveries are not keeping pace, prices are certain to keep rising.
The question is whether one of those four pillars will be eroded. It is possible we will finally get a handle on per-capita oil demand, and start along the long road to renewable energy use. It is also possible that economic conditions will reduce the growth in world demand for oil as people in India and China are forced to grow richer more slowly than at present. It is possible that new technology will significantly increase yields from existing oil fields for some period of time. Finally, it is possible that big new finds will keep the (planet destroying) party going a bit longer for everybody.
It is time to start thinking much more seriously about the possibility than none of those ‘outs’ will materialize.