Financial Times


Away with jerry cans! Oil bubble is bursting
Financial Times

One of the great pleasures in life for economists is watching bubbles burst. First the speculative air is pumped in just beyond the point of reason. There is always a trader willing to say that a tulip bulb will soon be worth a million guilders; an investment bank ready to predict $200 oil prices by the end of the year. There is always a looming war or a potential harvest failure to add spurious justification. But the end is inevitably the same. The bubble bursts.

That is what is happening now in the energy market. Sometimes the bubble deflates rapidly, as with the US natural gas price – now at a 10-year low of less than $2 per mmbtu. In other cases the air escapes slowly. That is what has been happening to the oil price since the announcement of a modest fall in Chinese imports.

Nor is the fall likely to be temporary. Years of high prices have encouraged investment and technical advances have started to transform the energy market. The focus of attention has been on shale gas, with US production up 14-fold since 2000 and now meeting almost a quarter of US demand. In China, shale gas exploration is just beginning and if successful could dramatically reduce import requirements over the next decade. In Europe, the environmental debate is unresolved but following the UK government’s supportive report, a forthcoming paper from the Royal Society could help set new standards, opening the way for production across the continent.

Pendant ce temps au Québec, 37 000 idiots utiles ont signé une pétition contre le gaz de schiste