Thursday, April 06, 2006

Saudis suddenly see the benefits of peak oil

My friend Mary sent me this link: Demand May Outpace Saudi Oil Capacity. Mary writes:
"this is one of the more chilling things I've read in a while. Why? Because the Saudis have always been publically in bold denial about peak oil, and now all of a sudden they're crying uncle. It really brought it home to me in a stark way. I have been reading about peak oil for a long time but it has always seemed kind of abstract to me, almost theoretical. Now it seems real. The quotes that some of these Saudis make are astonishing. A real eye opener."

Then I saw this, a true conspiracy theory by Huffington contributor Raymond Learsey: Oil Prices Being Pushed Ever Higher By Manipulating Oil Futures Trading. Learsey's thesis is that Saudi Arabian speculation is behind the recent rise in oil, not any fundemental supply and demand issue. It does fit rather nicely with the shift in official Saudi statements. However conspiratorial it sounds, I think it is neither unlikely nor incompatible with peak oil (although Learsey presents no evidence for his theory). Peak oil, or just the perception of peak oil, creates the market conditions in which manipulation is possible.

All commodity producers hope and dream of controlling the price of their commodity, preferably in a smooth uptrend. But they can only do that in sellers' markets. Powerful commodity consumers hope to control the price downward. Sometimes the opposing forces balance out, but if they don't, then one side can be said to control (manipulate) the market. Industrial nations, led by the USA, successfully drove the prices for practically all commodities down for decades in the 1980s and 1990s. It was in their interest to do so and they did. Central banks wanted gold to go down. They were able to do that. I see this as normal.

But now it is a sellers' market for oil and most other commodities. I would assume that the Saudis are manipulating oil! And so are the Norwegians, the Venezuelans, the Texans, and anyone else who wants to pile on for a quick buck.

It is important to recognize that pushing oil up is also a backhanded way to push the dollar down. Is oil worth more? Or is the dollar worth less? Same difference!

1 comment:

Thaxter said...

Oh man -- it's great getting quoted in someone else's blog!

Yeah, the Learsy post is quite amusing. And it is a true conspiracy theory:

"It's only logical to conclude, based on events past and present, that the oil futures markets are being played with by an entity that commands the very considerable resources needed to distort a market of such vast dimensions."

But, even if his assertion is plausible, I detect a whiff of desperation in those quotes by the Saudis. The plea for assistance is not incompatible with covert price manipulation, but I think the fact that they made a public plea at all is quite revealing. Unless they are so cunning that they are able to manipulate global public opinion by stoking an environment of fear over peak oil...

I wish Matt Simmons would weigh in on these recent comments by the Saudis.

But, hey, why worry? Chavez says he has enough to last two centuries! We can all breathe a sigh of relief while our economy tanks this year and next.