Energy analyst Charles Maxwell of Weeden & Co. sat down to discuss peak oil, alternative energy and the future cost of a barrel of crude with Index Universe managing editor Olivier Ludwig recently. Maxwell, a man who has been involved in the oil industry for more than half a century, is pretty sure that peak oil is nearly upon us. Maxwell's vision of a world forever changed by dwindling petroleum supplies is startling, so let's hope it's not entirely accurate.

When Ludwig prodded Maxwell on the question of what his oil price outlook as this whole new world order begins to take shape, Maxwell responded with:
The supply and demand of oil in the world today are pretty close to each other, and there shouldn't be too much deviation in 2010 and 2011. We think prices will stay within a band roughly between $67-$87 a barrel. When it gets up toward $87, it seems to retreat, and when it gets down toward $67, it seems to take off again. That's because supply and demand are in rough balance.

At that stage, prices will break through this $87 boundary-in about 2013, I'm thinking. And by 2015 we'll be up to around $130-$150 a barrel. And then by 2020, when we have 1.5 percent increases in demand each year and 0.5 percent declines on the downside, then we'll really be in a fix. At that time, I'm looking at $300 a barrel in money of the day.

But as the economic recovery continues, as more people use oil because there are more people in the world, and China and India continue to progress with rapid expansion of cars and the roads they are offering their people, demand for oil will continue to climb between 1 and 1.5 percent per year. That, combined with the depletion of these mature oil fields we've talked about, will bring us to a plateau by 2015-2017, where the rising production of newer oil fields will equal the falling production of old fields.

If the thought of $300 barrels of crude elicit a fierce response, then perhaps reading the entire interview with Maxwell will push you over the edge. So be careful out there.

[Source: Index Universe | Image: jkirkhart35 – C.C. License 2.0]