David Feldman

Myths of Energy – Experts Can Predict Oil Markets

Blog Post created by David Feldman Champion on Feb 10, 2017

It’s true that there are a lot of really smart people out there.  They’ve created very complex and fairly reliable models to predict the oil markets.  I don't disagree with that.  But the reality is this: People who say they can predict the future, probably can’t.


The oil and energy industry is full of prophesying pundits that will be happy to tell you what to expect  in the next ten, twenty and 30 years, but the energy markets -- particularly the oil markets -- are extremely complex, and to be perfectly honest, are nearly impossible to predict.


There are many reasons the oil markets are difficult to predict.  A few decades ago, people worrying about peak oil never would have imagined the advancements we’ve seen in unconventional oil and gas like we have today.  And those predicting slow progress in renewables certainly have been surprised with how dramatically wind and solar have surpassed expectations.


These are just two examples I quickly thought of that serve as good lessons for anyone making dramatic predictions about what's going to happen in the future.


It’s almost ironic.  When someone says they don’t know what’s going to happen, people think they don’t know what’s going on, or are uninformed.  However, it’s usually the people that say they know EXACTLY what’s going to happen who understand the least.


This applies equally to people who make grandiose claims.  You’ll hear things like:


  • The US will easily be energy independent in XX years!
  • We’ll reach peak oil in XX years!
  • Renewables will overtake fossil fuels in XX years!
  •  Etc... Etc.. 

It’s tempting to always believe “energy experts”, and usually we believe the ones that align with our political leanings, but the first step to approaching energy issues in a rational way is admitting that most of the time, we just don’t know.