Courtesy Reuters

Forecasts that long-term oil prices would recede again this decade have turned out to be well off the mark, but not because those who had predicted scarcity had it correctly. The problem with oil supplies today is fundamentally political. Vast oil resources that lie under the ground in places such as Iraq, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and West Africa could eventually bring to bear the low-price scenario envisioned in "Shocks of a World of Cheap Oil." Yet the likelihood that they will be exploited in a timely fashion has faded with a dramatic change in the political landscape of those countries.

The new world oil crisis began, not weeks ago, but over a year ago, with Venezuela's crippling civil war, which radically altered the outlook for the Americas' oil balance almost overnight. Under the leadership of populist President Hugo Chavez, political acrimony and a prolonged oil workers strike heavily damaged

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