Oil Well

At least one author is warning consumers not to be fooled by relatively steady gas prices and prognostications of plentiful petroleum. Richard Heinberg, in his book Snake Oil: How Fracking's False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future is warning people that any prediction that the world has staved off the prospect of diminishing returns on continued oil drilling is inaccurate, and that the recent increase in supply may merely accelerate the overall decline.

Heinberg says we need to look to history, pointing out that oil industry members and some US government agencies were trumpeting oil abundance a decade ago. They said oil prices would remain under $25 a barrel, but it was the so-called "Peakists" who forecast the price spikes that ended up coming to fruition. Heinberg, in a book excerpt reprinted by Grist, notes that the recent US fracking craze that has boosted production of both oil and natural gas will only increase supplies in the short term, and says extraction rates may decline "sharply" after the end of the decade. To soften that blow when it comes, Heinberg is pushing for greater investment in solar and wind energy.

Oil executives have recently been looking to allay fears of an imminent shortage, a recent example being Gulf CEO Joe Petrowski, who last month said on CNBC's Squawk Box that oil prices would drop about 50 percent by the end of the year partially because North America was producing "record amounts" of oil and natural gas.