What’s Up With Oil Prices?

Oil prices in New York remain north of $110 this morning–the highest in three years. What’s behind the spike in prices? There’s no shortage of opinion, and it’s not necessarily in agreement. For some perspective, several oil analysts opine on what’s happening via a fresh round of interviews, courtesy of Integrity Research Associates.

Here are some excerpts:
Matt Smith, Summit Energy: “The recent rise in crude has predominantly been a risk premium added to prices rather than a change in supply.”
Peter Zeihan, STRATFOR: “The majority of it is driven by speculative activity.”
James L. Williams, WTRG Economics: “Inventories are high, which should be a bearish indicator for prices. However, there is a legitimate war and revolution supply interruption risk premium, which increases every time there is a potential problem in an exporting country, and this supply interruption risk premium tends to be greater the lower our spare capacity is. Right now, our supply interruption risk premium is high, and our spare capacity is lower than we had expected. However, this is all amplified by hedge fund and ETF speculation in futures.”
Max Krangle, ABS Energy Research: “The current price of oil is based more on political, economic, transport factors, rather than underlying supply issues. Simple fact is that global proven reserves of crude oil are relatively stable – and is actually increasing if you count oil sands in Canada. Even with roughly 80m barrels/day pulled out of the ground, reserves appear to remain relatively stable. This has been true for the last 20-30 years.”