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Crude oil supplies are on pace to reach their longest surplus since 1985 and are just one quarter away from meeting the previous six-quarter record set in 1997 and 1998.

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.

Part of the problem is speculation: individual and institutional investors betting on higher future oil prices. Another big factor is the very weak U.S. dollar. But the bulk of the reason oil and gas prices have climbed so high is that age-old Economics 101 supply/demand equation. Global demand, especially by developing countries, continues to grow, while supply does not.