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On Not Jumping the Gun By Sharon Astyk

The e-mails started coming in to my mailbox this fall, their quantity and excitement level tracking the rising oil prices. Had I heard that this analyst just predicted $110 a barrel of oil by next year? How about this analyst, who suggested we might hit $200 a barrel by the end of 2015? As oil snuck past $80 a barrel toward $90, more and more of these predictions were made by analysts seeing a trend, and more and more of them were sent to me by correspondents as evidence that oil prices are going up – way up.

I understand why my fellow peak-oil activists are excited. High oil prices make sense to the general public, and when oil prices are high, peak oil gets serious attention. Phrases like “the end of cheap oil” start making sense to people. When gas and heating oil prices make the news, the language of peak oil resonates. It is easy to explain to someone ignorant of energy issues: “Peak oil means that you won’t be able to afford to get to work and that the price of everything made with oil (which is everything) is going up.”

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The Tierney-Simmons Bet

Five years ago, John Tierney, a columnist with The New York Times, and Matt Simmons, peak oil guru and founder of energy investment bank Simmons & Co., made a bet. Simmons argued that oil prices would be much higher in 2010. Tierney, a believer in human ingenuity and a follower of economist Julian Simon, took the other position. Simon, a so-called Cornucopian, argued that there would always be abundant supplies of energy and other natural resources and that the real price of commodities like oil would remain stable or decline over time.

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Top 10 Developments of 2010

Top 10 Developments of 2010

1. Unexpected Growth in Global Demand

As the global demand for oil increased during 2010 the IEA was forced to steadily increase its forecast for average annual demand. In January the agency said that the increase over 2009 would be 1.4 million b/d. By July that had increased to a 1.8 million b/d gain and in mid-December the estimate was up to a 2.5 million b/d increase in global oil consumption. The agency notes that in the 3rd quarter global demand may have been up by 3.3 million b/d over the previous year, a rate which is clearly outstripping increases in production and indicating that a drawdown in global stocks is taking place.

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Review January 3, 2011

Top 10 Developments of 2010

1. Unexpected Growth in Global Demand

As the global demand for oil increased during 2010 the IEA was forced to steadily increase its forecast for average annual demand. In January the agency said that the increase over 2009 would be 1.4 million b/d. By July that had increased to a 1.8 million b/d gain and in mid-December the estimate was up to a 2.5 million b/d increase in global oil consumption. The agency notes that in the 3rd quarter global demand may have been up by 3.3 million b/d over the previous year, a rate which is clearly outstripping increases in production and indicating that a drawdown in global stocks is taking place.

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