Friday, April 08, 2005

Roger that, Houston.

Halliburton is a major oil services firm that has contracts all over the globe. The CEO of Halliburton was on CNBC the other day and was asked what his customers are doing in terms of investments in oil projects in the current environment.

He indicated that his customers are using a mid-20's oil price benchmark to test their potential investments against, and are not letting today's oil prices drive these decisions. He believes that oil companies are generally being much better conservators of their capital than they had historically been. [Historically, it's been boom to bust. I just read in Daniel Yergin's "The Prize" that due to serious overproduction of oil in East Texas in the early 1930's, oil prices fell to 13 cents a barrel. This threatened the entire oil industry so drastically that on Aug 17, 1931 martial law was declared in order to bring in Texas Rangers and guardsmen to East Texas to rein in overproduction!]

As a person who holds oil stocks, that's actually what I want to hear.

I reflected back to a trip I took to visit a friend in Houston back in the late 1980's, which was shortly after their oil bust down there. I saw a lot of brand new office buildings, shopping centers, etc that had obviously been built on spec and were completely empty and looking new, yet somewhat forlorn.

I guess it probably looked somewhat like what the pessimist Peak Oil folks envision for the whole country when things get really drastic.