I must admit to being of two minds about the slide since July in crude price.

Oh sure, the overall economy will benefit if black gold maintains its perch around $100 or slides even lower. Surely, the U.S. economy and those of a growing number of other nations could use that sort of financial vitamin B-12 injection.

But I do worry about the short-term memories of many of my countrymen. Should crude and gasoline fall far enough, many will again be drooling over General Motors (NYSE:GM) Suburbans or Ford (NYSE:F) Expeditions. Which is fine from a host of perspectives, but the word "permanent" shouldn't become stuck in the vocabulary of anyone watching crude. Tie into a gas guzzler today, and it just might be that within a couple of years some event might have you wishing you'd opted for fuel efficiency.

And then there's Canada. As you know, because of the petroleum-like goo that sits in its Alberta sands, Canada has become the largest supplier of oil to the U.S. But for all sorts of environmental and other reasons, turning that goo into usable crude and petroleum products is becoming increasingly expensive. So take crude prices appreciably lower and the economics of production from Canadian oil sands likely become questionable.

Ironically, however, the key reason that I think that "permanent" doesn't fit with the world of crude prices -- in addition to long-run supply demand considerations -- is an observation of the geopolitical tender spots that dot our planet. For instance, Nigeria remains a tinderbox, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to make absurd statements about Israel, and Russia is ever unpredictable.

Fine, you say, but with the world's energy situation essentially bipolar, should we be buying, selling, or holding our energy stocks? My best response is quite simply this: I believe that the strongest names in the energy sector today remain those of the offshore drillers. Their equipment is generally booked for years, and crude prices would have to slide a long way and for an awfully long time to render their metrics unattractive.

On that basis, I'd recommend that Fools with a bent for energy not lose sight of the inherent values to be found in the likes of Transocean (NYSE:RIG), Diamond Offshore (NYSE:DO), Ensco (NYSE:ESV), and Noble (NYSE:NE).

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He does, however, invite your comments or questions. The Fool has a disclosure policy.