Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The fat lady gets a Prius.

Note the prediction of an oil price drop to $60 to $80 over the next several years as consumption actually declines. Note also that Henry Groppe has a track record of solid predictions. (search for his name, I'm in a rush right now).

The Aspen Times: Where virtue, market meet.


And it's happened. Americans have responded. People who don't need trucks to visit the mall are looking for more fuel-efficient vehicles, and the guzzlers are sitting on the lots. Seems to be a recent change.

To find out how recent, I consulted an oil-price analyst — not just any energy expert, but Henry Groppe, a Houston-based veteran and independent thinker. "All our work indicates consumption has actually been flat these three years," he said.

In 1980, when the Iranian revolution sent oil prices soaring, everyone else — Exxon, Shell, the U.S. Department of Energy — predicted that a barrel of oil would soon cost $80, $85, $100 a barrel. In a contrarian forecast, now legend, Groppe said that oil would fall below $15 a barrel. And that's what happened.

Why did his firm, Groppe, Long & Littell, expect the price collapse? "We thought there would be a significant drop in consumption," he said.

Groppe sees consumption dropping now. "Everybody is still in denial about the magnitude of the changes." He predicts the annual average price of oil will fall back to $60 to $80 a barrel in the next several years.

The faulty forecasts, Groppe says, reflect a reliance on the flawed work of the International Energy Agency. His group gathers its own data.

For example, the IEA last year forecast a major rise in production by nations outside of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The actual increase was tiny.

"The Saudis made a mistake taking the IEA forecast seriously and cutting production when they should not have done it," Groppe said.

That raised prices to the point where consumers started using less energy. The Saudis want us hooked.

As for the Americans' part in this, Groppe thinks that "the most important thing is more efficient usage — particularly greater mileage performance of our vehicles."