"They see speculation in the market, I see decline in global inventories. I don't think this is a big surprise, that we've had a jump in price when there has been a decrease in crude inventories."— Energy Secretary Sam Bodman, Bloomberg News, Mar. 5, 2008
"It should be obvious to you all that the [gasoline] demand is outstripping supply, which causes prices to go up." — President George W. Bush, Associated Press, Mar. 5, 2008
Just so we can all get on the same page, here are the verifiable facts on oil supplies, production, and gasoline demand.
In January of this year, the U.S. used 4% less petroleum than we did a year ago. (Oil demand was down 3.2% in February.) Furthermore, demand has been falling slowly since July of last year. Ronald Bailey of Reason Online has pointed out that worldwide production of oil has risen 2.5% in the first quarter, while worldwide demand has grown by only 2%.
Production is expected to increase by 3.3% in the second quarter, and by as much as 4.1% by the third quarter. The net result is that the U.S. daily buffer for oil production against demand, which was a paltry 1.5 million barrels as recently as 2005, is now up to 3 million barrels in excess capacity today.
ExxonMobil (XOM) Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson was quoted by Marketwatch as saying, "The record run in oil prices is related more to speculation and a weakening dollar than supply and demand in the market." He added, "In terms of fundamentals, fear of supply reliability is overblown."
As for the speculators, in 2000 approximately $9 billion was invested in oil futures, while today that number has gone up to $250 billion.
Is this guy making a good point, or is he making the carnal sin of not evaluating the oil market from a global perspective?