Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cheap Energy

The United States has what, 300 million people? They consume about 25 barrels of oil apiece, per year. The majority of the World's population live in Southern and Eastern Asia. This area is currently undergoing rapid economic and industrial development. They consume much more oil than they did a decade ago but still only a little more than 1 barrel a year, per person. It is likely that the energy requirements of Asia will at least double, in the next few years. They will still be using minuscule amounts per capita, compared with the developed West. The increase in the cumulative demand will be a different story.

Americans may have cut their oil usage by a percent or two, in the last several months, as the price of oil has impacted on their pocket books. They may continue to find ways to use less energy and utilize alternative sources. This would be a good thing. It's not going to affect the price of oil in the free market, in the long term.

Currently, all commodity prices are in correction and going lower. This is due to the unwinding of long positions, that tied up commodities during the recent inflationary commodities Bull Market. Now, speculators are going the other way and shorting the commodities. This is bringing prices rapidly down and releasing commodities for consumption. The availability of commodities, in excess of immediate demand, at lower prices, spurs even more drastic price reductions and continues to enrich market movers. It does not herald a new, long term era of cheap, plentiful food, fuel and industrial raw materials, which are the building blocks of human society.

We can produce the food we need and the raw materials to fuel economic growth but to do it we need energy. Petroleum is and will remain, at least for the foreseeable future, the most important energy source in the World. The majority of the World's petroleum deposits are old sources in declining production, supplemented by lesser, newer finds in ever more difficult and expensive to exploit locations. There has not been a major new source of petroleum discovered, anywhere in the World, in the last 30 years.

We may solve our problem of cheap energy requirements. The answer may be out there but if it is, nobody has found it yet.

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