That worry (or hope, depending on your point of view) that oil might soon drop to $10 a barrel? It might be here – or maybe not. It all depends on who you ask.

If you ask the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the answer seems to be "low prices ahead." Right now, supplies of petroleum products in the U.S. are higher than they have been for 20 years, according to numbers from the EIA. At the end of August, CNN reports, the U.S. has a supply of 1.87 billion barrels. With demand down thanks to a slow economy, CNN writes that, "awareness has gradually dawned that we may be looking at an oil surplus for years to come." Of course, the EIA's official price predictions are that oil will remain north of $80 a barrel, but that's because, "Official estimates of future oil supplies don't yet reflect this emerging consensus [of a surplus]."

If, on the other hand, you ask the German military, you get a dismal picture that doesn't just encompass peak oil but also all of the problems that will come with that, like a "total collapse of the markets" and a shift in the global balance of power. This information comes from a leaked document from within the German military that shows the organization is preparing for – or at least thinking about – these contingencies. In a similar vein, the Guardian recently reported that the UK government has been keeping secret its worries about dwindling supplies of oil and other important resources.

Put these two main ideas together and you can see they aren't as incompatible as they appear on first blush. It's entirely possible that we'll have surpluses for the next few years – just enough to make people relax – but then we will have to face the real shortage.

[Source: CNN, Guardian, Green Car Advisor | Image: DieselDemon – C.C. License 2.0

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