Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Raw Energy And Market Action

There is no advanced civilization without energy.  How the world meets its energy needs determines whether nations can life impoverished masses out of despair with growth. 

OPEC claims it can boost output to lower the rising price of crude oil.  Good luck.  Many of OPEC's larger producers are at or near the peaks of their reserves.  Better drilling technology can flatten a peak by reaching previously unrecoverable reserves, but that takes time to deploy.  OPEC's smaller producers - yes, Libya - will have a tough time producing anything if their workers are revolting. 

Constricted supply means other producers are free to pump and reap windfalls.  Russia likes the windfall profits and support for the ruble that have come with high oil prices.  Net oil importing countries have every incentive to start pricing oil imports in a currency other than the U.S. dollar. 

Option traders aren't sleeping through this bonanza action.  The betting game is on, wagering any attempt by Saudi Arabia to meet world oil demand will be nixed by protests on a "Day of Rage" and afterwards. 

All of this oil action makes it easy for other energy sources to escape notice.  Resource-rich nations don't want to miss the next phase of the global commodity boom.  Mongolia needs help from big Western coal companies to develop its coal deposits.  It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.