Sorry, There's No Way Oil Runs Back To $150

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We found another oil bear, but this one’s not quite as extreme as Robert Pretcher (who thinks oil will crash to $10).

Edward Morseis, Managing Director of Louis Capital Markets and an ex-State Department energy official, argues in the upcoming issue of Foreign Affairs that oil prices won’t shoot back to the moon, as key producers boost production and capacity:

 …Last year’s high prices and the recession have severely damped demand, and the growth of new production capacity, especially in Saudi Arabia, is buoying supplies.

The rapid fall and then rebound in oil prices over the past year surprised many people. But it was not unusual: commodities markets are cyclical by nature and have a history punctuated by sudden turning points. Although this generally makes it difficult to forecast prices, it is safe to say that commodities markets will remain lower over the next few years than they have been over the past five. In the oil industry, the most important new factor that accounts for low prices is the return of surplus production capacity among the members of the organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries for the first time since 2002–3.

Later on, Moresis astutely points out it’s not in OPEC’s interest to spike oil. “[Saudi Arabia] will likely use its surplus capacity to keep prices moderate in order to spur global economic growth, maintain long-term demand for oil, and deter investments in alternative sources of energy.

Low oil prices is great news, so long as the administration remains focused on its alternative energy plans. Foreign Affairs suggests cheap oil presents an opportunity “to make energy markets less volatile and strike arrangements with producing countries that will better serve the United States’ long-term interests.”

If we pull a redux of the 80’s though, and forget about the energy problem, lower oil prices could actually be our enemy.

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