Oil still bubbling up– buyers beware

Following up on my entry from last week and its graph of per capita oil consumption rates, this site gives us the 2008 breakdown on a country basis.

Here we can see that although Canada is number 2 for per capita consumption, because there are less of us in the country, we rank number 9 in terms of overall consumption totals. Meanwhile notwithstanding the incredible populations of China and India, together they account for just under 12% of world demand. The US accounts for over 25%. This underlines why the ongoing US recession will put a slack in oil demand (once speculators move on). It also makes the point again why we in North America have lots of room to reign in wasteful consumption habits.
Some interesting comments in the past few days on present oil prices.
First OPEC's Sec'y-General, Mr. Abdallah El-Badri, speaking near the end of last week repeatedly stated that current prices are not being driven by natural demand forces:
“We are not very happy with this increase in oil prices. Volatility has nothing to do with the fundamentals. It has nothing to do with world demand. The price was $130 [one day} and today is at $135, so it is really a crazy market…this price has nothing to with the market, there is a lot of oil in the market. There is no shortage whatsoever; the stocks are very high, at comfortable levels. The main problems are speculators.”
John Mauldin quotes antecdotal evidence that there is a shortage of available oil tankers for lease in the world at the moment. Lease prices are a large $140,000 a week, and in the past few weeks these lease prices have soared. There is now a serious shortage of available tankers in the world because so many people are using tankers to store and hoard oil supply. Speculators are betting that oil prices will continue to soar enough from here to still make $140k a week storage fees palatable.
Apparently this was a common tactic among speculators in the early 80’s oil boom. It was also a hallmark of the top of that bubble. Once prices soften, these excess “reserves” help to violently drive prices down as speculators move to dump their hoards at the same time. See “Whither the price of oil?”
Buyers and holders at these levels should do so forewarned. Risk to capital is very high.

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