Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Oil at $262/barrel?

People get jittery when gas pump prices go from under $2 to over $3 per gallon. But how about $12 per gallon? Unrealistic? Consider this article from Fortune magazine:

Ready for $262/barrel oil? (Excerpted)
Two of the world's most successful investors say oil will be in short supply in the coming months.
By Nelson Schwartz, FORTUNE senior writer
January 27, 2006: 4:40 PM EST

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

That's the message from two of the world's most successful investors on the topic of high oil prices. One of them, Hermitage Capital's Bill Browder, has outlined six scenarios that could take oil up to a downright terrifying $262 a barrel.

The other, billionaire investor George Soros, wouldn't make any specific predictions about prices. But as a legendary commodities player, it's worth paying heed to the words of the man who once took on the Bank of England -- and won. "I'm very worried about the supply-demand balance, which is very tight," Soros says.

"U.S. power and influence has declined precipitously because of Iraq and the war on terror and that creates an incentive for anyone who wants to make trouble to go ahead and make it." As an example, Soros pointed to the regime in Iran, which is heading towards a confrontation with the West over its nuclear power program and doesn't show any signs of compromising. "Iran is on a collision course and I have a difficulty seeing how such a collision can be avoided," he says.

To come up with some likely scenarios in the event of an international crisis, his team performed what's known as a regression analysis, extrapolating the numbers from past oil shocks and then using them to calculate what might happen when the supply from an oil-producing country was cut off in six different situations. The fall of the House of Saud seems the most far-fetched of the six possibilities, and it's the one that generates that $262 a barrel.

More realistic -- and therefore more chilling -- would be the scenario where Iran declares an oil embargo a la OPEC in 1973, which Browder thinks could cause oil to double to $131 a barrel. Other outcomes include an embargo by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez ($111 a barrel), civil war in Nigeria ($98 a barrel), unrest and violence in Algeria ($79 a barrel) and major attacks on infrastructure by the insurgency in Iraq ($88 a barrel).


David said...

yeah I gotta love any of those scenarios UGHH

Kristen said...

Wow, that's unfathomable, but it makes sense nonetheless. Just when I thought gas prices were improving a few weeks ago, I went to the pump this afternoon and paid $2.58 per gallon.

I'd say it looks like things are going from bad to worse.

But I don't want to end this comment on a negative note - Ross, thanks for directing me to your blog! Looking forward to the next missive your mind concocts in the near future...