Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Oil at $120, soon to be $200?

"Wait, wait, wait. $200 oil? Just let me get my head together a minute man...I'm still trying to get used to the idea of $120 a barrel."

The internal monologue of the average American (in dazed hippy-speak) when considering recent oil prices and the prospect of much higher prices to come?

Okay, I'm speculating here. I can't see inside the average person's head, and he probably doesn't even talk like Tommy Chong.

But I think we can say that your average American Joe has probably been surprised by the extent and duration of this nine-year uptrend in crude oil prices. Especially when you consider that this protracted price rise was accompanied by a constant, sustained chorus for "lower oil prices ahead!" from many of the media's talking heads.

And believe me when I say that if you have a car (or two, or three, or an Elvis-sized fleet), this is one commodity market you are likely to have kept up with. Even if you don't like to read the financial papers or watch business news on tv, you've probably glanced up at that sign in your gas station parking lot and shaken your head in disbelief a few times.

Now that crude oil prices have climbed above the $120 mark, some analysts, like Goldman Sachs' Arjun Murti, are already making forecasts for $150-$200 oil. And you know what? I think a growing number of people are starting to realize that these prices are not that crazy, given current (and projected future) global supply and demand fundamentals.

We've talked a lot about higher crude oil and energy prices here in the past. For those who might like to revisit some of the earlier forecasts of tight oil supplies and higher prices, here are a few items of interest that will add some perspective on the current state of high energy prices.

1. Our August 2006 interview with energy investor, Bill Powers, of Powers Asset Management.

2. Jim Rogers forecasts tighter oil supplies and $150-$200 oil in this late 2007 CNBC interview.

3. Matthew Simmons tells Bloomberg (in early 2007) that oil is priced more cheaply than store-bought water and higher oil prices are sure to come.

What do you envision: higher oil prices to come, or the start of a longer-term drop in prices?