[Marxism] Why High Gas Prices Are Here to Stay
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Mar 13 11:19:48 MDT 2012
Counterpunch March 13, 2012
A Tough-Oil World
Why High Gas Prices Are Here to Stay
by MICHAEL T. KLARE
Oil prices are now higher than they have ever been — except for a
few frenzied moments before the global economic meltdown of 2008.
Many immediate factors are contributing to this surge, including
Iran’s threats to block oil shipping in the Persian Gulf, fears of
a new Middle Eastern war, and turmoil in energy-rich Nigeria. Some
of these pressures could ease in the months ahead, providing
temporary relief at the gas pump. But the principal cause of
higher prices — a fundamental shift in the structure of the oil
industry — cannot be reversed, and so oil prices are destined to
remain high for a long time to come.
In energy terms, we are now entering a world whose grim nature has
yet to be fully grasped. This pivotal shift has been brought
about by the disappearance of relatively accessible and
inexpensive petroleum — “easy oil,” in the parlance of industry
analysts; in other words, the kind of oil that powered a
staggering expansion of global wealth over the past 65 years and
the creation of endless car-oriented suburban communities. This
oil is now nearly gone.
The world still harbors large reserves of petroleum, but these are
of the hard-to-reach, hard-to-refine, “tough oil” variety. From
now on, every barrel we consume will be more costly to extract,
more costly to refine — and so more expensive at the gas pump.
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