My assumption is the mid-east will flair up in the near future and push oil higher. There also seems to be some consolidation going on, with large oil companies buying up smaller ones (Natural gas and oil).
Upside seems more likely, with oil in the $85 to $95 range. Thoughts?
While they do a good job of hosting guests with all points of view, the following message keeps recurring among those I deem sane:
1) Peak oil is real. 2) Declining US/OECD demand is in no way going to offset ROW (rest of world) demand. 3) The "low hanging fruit" of lush, shallow oil-fields are a thing of the past. What remains (off-shore, deep, hard to extract) is *expensive* to get. 4) There are forward-looking countries in the world, who are doing everything they can to lock in long term contracts with countries for a supply of oil, and then there are short-sighted countries in the world who think they're the only game in town, and can set the price of oil by fiddling in the futures market as they please. 5) Emerging countries, that are developing under conditions of oil-as-scarce-commodity, have a chance to do it right for that paradigm; established countries with systems that were designed upon the premise of cheap available oil may be in for a bit of a rough go.
Check out the FSN mp3s/podcasts; good listening on commutes or while fiddling around the house on weekends.
I'd also recommend the book "Oil 101" by Morgan Downey. A comprehensive look at petrol products, with lots of interesting I-didn't-know-that tidbits for us commoners.
As for $80+ a barrel, while anything can happen over the short term, the long term prognosis is up-up-and-away. Painfully so. Nat-gas may (emphasis on may) offer some relief in the mid-term, but the new methods of obtaining it all rely upon copious amounts of water, and may have serious implications for ground-water contamination.