In recent days oil market has witnessed surge in global oil price. Crude oil went to a two-month high on concern that U.S. refiners will fail to produce enough gasoline to keep up with peak demand this summer.
Short fall in supply of oil from Nigeria and uncertainty on Iranian nuclear issues are already keeping buyers of oil nervous. Delivery in May future hit $68 per barrel, a 20 pct jump from last years $56.5 per barrel, only $2.85 from August 2005 high’s of $70.85. Since last 3 years oil market has been witnessing a substantial rise in the average price of oil. Last week number of oil analyst and agencies have one again raised their 2006 average forecast price to $63.
US Energy department Data reported that refineries are operating around 86 pct of their capacity. Analyst estimates that during same period last year, plants utilised 94 percent of their capacity. Not to forget that February, March & April are also crucial as all the maintenance work is done during these months.
There is difference of opinion as experts differ on whether the current soaring oil demand will outstrip the current supplies, and how quickly.
But for oil watchers, what could be more concerning is that if the current surging demand from China and India persists then Saudi Arabia, which has a known 25% global oil reserve, may see its oil reserves dwindle in twenty years time. Many leading oil analyst says Saudi Arabia is believed to be forced to over supply http://www.topsuppliers.com .
The country has the ability to produce 15 million barrels per day. Middle Eastern Oil analyst is of view that if Saudi Arabia produces 15 mbp, the lifespan of Saudi Arabia’s proven oil reserve of 260 billion barrel, 100 billion has already been used and therefore the reserves can be used in our lifetimes.
Meanwhile, last year’s impact of five major hurricane hitting United States of America still has the biting effect on the oil industry. Coastal oil refineries are still fighting to deliver maximum production.
Developing oil sands or natural gas-based diesel fuel is slower and more expensive proposition, though researchers are making every effort to produce an alternate to counter oil price.
US President George W Bush in his one of his State Union address in February, called for intense effort to develop more efficient fuel sources. The US Energy Department and the Agriculture Department spend tens of millions of dollars every year on biomass-based energy research and development. This is in addition to the billions of dollars. More than $4 billion was spent in 2004.The U.S. provides in subsidies for the production of corn, from which most domestically produce ethanol is derived.
Considering how ethanol is produced, corn or sugarcane is grown, harvested and delivered to an ethanol plant. Growing and harvesting the corn and heating the reheating the fermented corn of sugarcane to produce ethanol of a high quality to replace some of the gasoline in car requires enormous amount of energy.
According to researchers, it was found that it takes 30 pct more energy to top make ethanol from corn. Wood biomass takes 55 pct more energy. Swiss grass takes about 50 pct. Ethanol is just highly uneconomical product in the West, as compared in developing countries, also due to low labour wages. It also contributes to air pollution. Cars running on gasoline containing ethanol produce more air pollution than cars running gasoline alone.
Another research work on Pig manure is underway. One pig produces 10 pounds of manure to yield up to 21 gallon of crude oil. Hence, it is estimated manure from America’s 60 million pigs could produce 50 million barrels of oil a year. Framers can earn $10 per pig from manure.
There are all very expensive propositions. The researchers would continue to search for oil alternate, but substitute for oil may still be far away. With current pace of global growth, thirst for economic boom and demand incurring due to population explosion is unending.
I have very few reasons to believe that oil prices will fall to USD 50 per barrel and would rather like to argue that we would continue to see higher oil price trend. Without which search for new oil find could not be met due to high exploration cost. Oil price could also be kept high intentionally, to give investors incentive to explore oil and to developed alternate fuel find which requires billions of Dollars.
With growing annual demand for 2 million barrel per day, most of it coming from Asia, one single event that disrupts oil production could send prices sky rocketing. Current demand for global oil is 84 million barrel per day. I expect the oil to trade in a USD 75-80 range in a short span of time. Not long ago talking of oil price averaging USD 60 was a sin. So let us get prepared for the next coming big move.