I don't know whether what happened in 2008 reached the absurdity stage for the world's energy industry, but if it didn't, it didn't miss by much.
As you recall, amid a general commodities run-up, crude oil came within a hair's breadth of $150 by July. And then, as if all of the commodities were marching in lockstep, crude quickly rolled over with its metals and natural gas brethren and slid below $34 a barrel by February. The result was an incredibly bifurcated year for virtually any company dealing in natural resources, from ExxonMobil
Now, however, we seem to barely have noticed that oil has doubled from its 2009 low. But what's worse, the "green shoots" that have been reported as the early signs of a recovering economy could bring on a repeat of last year's energy run. As long as the economy remains soft, demand for crude oil and refined products should be tame (despite the recent run-up in gasoline). Indeed, the Paris-based International Energy Agency believes that crude demand will decline by 3% this year.
However, given the number of energy projects that have been canceled by the likes of Royal Dutch Shell
In fact, NYU professor and market seer Nouriel Roubini believes that oil could reach $200 a barrel as the economic recovery begins in earnest. And beyond that, he contends that the green shoots that some think they've spotted are still just yellow weeds. If that were true, it would likely signify months of additional recession time ahead. I don't know about you, but I don't think I want to invite Mr. Roubini to a dinner party.
So, while the professor and I may not concur on the magnitude of the crude price hike that lies ahead -- I'm betting on about $80 a barrel by year's end -- we do agree about the direction. If we're right, it's a signal that Fools need a strong energy component in their portfolios. My favorites include the biggest of Big Oil, ExxonMobil, along with its oilfield services counterpart, Schlumberger
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