Sunday, February 21, 2010

the other shoe...,

Telegraph | Barclays and Bank of America see looming oil crunch. For oil markets, it as if the Great Recession never happened. Surging demand in China, India and the Middle East is making up for decline in the debt-crippled West, ensuring another global crunch within three or four years.

Bank of America and Barclays Capital, two leading oil traders, have told clients to brace for crude above $100 (£64) a barrel by next year, before it pushes relentlessly higher over the decade. This is a stark contrast from recessions in the 1980s and 1990s, when it took years to work off excess drilling capacity built in the boom.

"Oil has the potential to flirt with $100 this year. We forecast an average price of $137 by 2015," said Amrita Sen, an oil expert at BarCap. The price has doubled to $78 in the last year.

"The groundwork for the next sustained step up in oil prices is now almost complete. Global spare capacity is likely to be reduced to low levels within a relatively short time. The global economic crisis has postponed, but not cancelled, a crunch which would otherwise be starting to bite now," said Barclays.

Francisco Blanch, from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said crude may touch $105 next year, with $150 in sight by 2014. "Approximately 1.7bn consumers in emerging markets with a per capita income of $5,000 to $20,000 are eagerly waiting to buy cars, air-conditioning units, or white goods," he said.

China has overtaken the US as the world's top car market. Mr Blanch expects oil demand to rise by a further 2.8m barrels per day (bpd) in China and 2.5m bpd in India by 2015, when two giants will be absorbing the lion's share of Gulf output. Consumption in the West has already peaked and will fall each year as populations shrink and we waste less, but the West no longer sets the price. Global use will increase by 8.8m bpd to 95m bpd.

Supply is scarce. Sir Richard Branson warned this month that the world faces 'peak oil' within five years. "Don't let the oil crunch catch us out in the way that the credit crunch did," he said.