Energy price forecasts that seemed to be on a prolonged rampant upswing have taken one heck of a U-turn. Take Goldman Sachs
As recently as May, the company noted an expectation that global crude prices could reach $150 to $200 over a 6- to 24-month period. By last month, the firm had "settled" on a $110 average price for next year. But now, with prices having dropped by a whopping 50% just since July, it's cut its forecast for the year-end U.S. crude price to $70, down from its previous expectation of $115. Beyond that, it says that the $50 level is possible should the current credit and financial crises continue.
If that series of prognostications strikes you a little like driving by looking in the rearview mirror, you may have a point. But from my perspective, it flies in the face of predictions from energy seers like ExxonMobil
Admittedly, lots can happen between 2009 and 2030 (including a special price-cutting OPEC meeting next month), but it's also inescapable that we're still paying today for the crude price declines in the 1980s, which resulted in a severe reduction in infrastructure spending and a decline in the numbers of students studying petroleum engineering, geology, and other energy-related curricula.
And while lower crude prices and more reasonable gasoline prices at the pump may please you -- and they should -- keep in mind that a too-severe decline in energy levels could have dire consequences down the road:
- As the major importer of crude into the U.S., Canada’s oil sands development could be hindered.
- Development of energy assets in places like Russia and Kasakhstan could be curtailed.
- Development of the big new discoveries offshore Brazil likely could be slowed.
- Work on alternative energy forms could be marginalized, putting us in the soup as the world's thirst for energy ramps up.
These trends -- along with the precipitous declines in energy shares during the past few weeks -- signal a tremendous (and renewed) opportunity for investors in the energy sector. I'm inclined to point to the likes of Devon
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