Oil prices are expected to remain “significantly higher for many years” and could even touch $100 per barrel by the end of this year as underinvestment in the hydrocarbons sector keeps a lid on supply, according to a top economist.
Underinvestment comes as the world focuses on transitioning to clean energy as it seeks to cut emissions.
“We all care about global climate change and we all wanted to decarbonise but what has happened is that there is one massive underinvestment for the last five years into fossil fuels whether it is coal, whether it is oil, whether it is natural gas,“ said Nouriel Roubini, chairman of Roubini Macro Associates, a global macroeconomic consultancy based in New York City.
The massive under investment is “going to lead to a reduction in the supply of hydrocarbons and fossil fuels for many years to come”, he told the Alternative Investment Management Summit (AIM) in Dubai on Monday
Oil prices have been rallying in the past few weeks as demand outstrips supply owing to a surge in gas prices and a quicker-than-expected economic recovery in developed countries. The rise in natural gas prices before the winter season has also increased the possibility of higher volumes of oil products being consumed to generate power, boosting overall demand.
Brent, the international benchmark for more than half of the world's crude, is up 2.33 per cent to $84.31 per barrel at 4.39pm UAE time on Monday. West Texas Intermediate, the key gauge for US oil, is also trading higher at $81.64 per barrel, up 2.89 per cent. Both benchmarks slipped to $83.5 and $81.17 at 9.35pm UAE time.
Mr Roubini also said the supply of green energy and renewable energy was not “rising fast enough” to meet the growing demand as global economy recovers from the coronavirus-induced slowdown.
The rising oil prices will also lead to higher inflation globally, resulting in a slowdown in the growth, he said.
“We’ve lived for the last 30 years … a period of great moderation, inflation was low and growth was stable. This regime is over and we are going to move to a period of what I call a period of great economic and financial instability … where inflation is going to be much higher,” the economist, nicknamed Dr Doom due to his dire predictions, said.
Annual inflation across some of the world’s largest economies increased to 4.3 per cent in August, driven by rising energy and food prices, the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development said in a report earlier this month.
Concerns around stagflation – a situation in which the inflation rate is high and economic growth stalls – are also growing amid higher energy costs.
“Today if you look at the data, we are already in mild stagflation. In the third quarter of this year, growth in the US, Europe and China has gone south, much worse than expected, and inflation has been much more than expected.”
Mr Roubini also highlighted a number of factors that could affect global economic growth in the coming days including rising protectionism, geopolitical tensions, and ageing population.