A few months back we had people calling for $150 and $200 oil, but now many people are saying $50 or $60 is not only possible, but likely. What a difference hedge fund liquidations and a recession can make. Is the oil bull market over, or just put on hold due to an impending global recession? My best guess is the latter.
Consider the charts below. They show crude oil consumption for this decade, with current 2009 estimates included. The first one shows oil consumption in the U.S. which isn’t very impressive and screams lower prices. After all, we represent 5% of the world’s population but consume 25% of the world’s oil.
Will the current recession result in a reversal of this graph? Probably not to any large degree. The line will flatten surely, and perhaps even dip slightly, but by the time that happens any global recession will be mostly over and demand growth will be set to resume alongside economic growth. Long term I still think the oil bull market remains intact until we truly start replacing large amounts of oil consumption with alternative fuels.