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We like round numbers

January 2, 2008

The price of a barrel of oil hit $100 today (at the time of this post, it’s just under). Even though it’s only $1 more than $99, it’s a nice round number, which makes it newsworthy. Since I’m posting about it…I guess I’m included in the bandwagon-jumping activities.

I posted about this milestone several weeks ago here.

The more significant milestone, however, is breaking the inflation-adjusted record of $101.70. But, again, this is just a record…easy to report about in the news. Ideally, the reporting of such a thing will foster discussion about our usage of a resource that continues to rise in demand even though we may have (if we haven’t already) surpassed peak global production.

Here is a key statement from this report:

Retail gasoline prices have not risen as fast as oil prices over the last few months, largely due to weak demand.

There are, of course, some top-down solutions for evading a full-blown energy crisis that need to be discussed, but we should not forget about bottom-up solutions, such as good ol’ conservation (gasp! … how dare I suggest such a thing!). You want to help keep prices of fuel down? Buy less of it. Does this solve everything? Of course not…that’s ridiculous. But, my point is that it’s not all about top-down solutions.

Top-down solutions are easier to cite as the “answer” because they seem so good on paper…plus, when they don’t work as envisioned, it’s easy to point to one entity as the reason it didn’t work.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2008 4:24 pm

    What about the bright side? Dwindling supplies and higher prices means more demand for exploration geologists.

  2. January 2, 2008 4:57 pm

    If supplies are dwindling, and the giant fields have all been discovered (for the most part), hiring more geologists won’t solve anything. I would re-word that to say that the companies are going to demand more from their existing geologists. That is, “find me a billion-barrel field or it’s your job”.

    I see the next couple decades as more of an engineering problem – sucking out remaining reserves from existing fields, figuring out the best ways to deal with unconventional hydrocarbons, and so on.

    Besides…personally, I think high prices are a bright side…sort of. People need to wake up to the broad issue of energy. The scary wild card is if prices get too high and/or their are spot shortages, which will freak people/markets out.

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