Thinking randomly about how much of the policy space is dominated by simply waiting for oil prices to go up again. In essence waiting for another oil boom. But how likely is that? Took a look at some long term data and two things stand out.
First, in terms of actual income per person (without incorporating costs of production) from crude oil sales, the 1980s oil boom was way way larger than the 2010 oil boom. Especially once you adjust for inflation. The actual oil production was not that different but the driver was population growth. In the 1980s we had circa 70 million people. By 2010 we had 170 million, but still producing roughly two million barrels per day.
The second thing that stands out to me is that the booms are kind of exceptions. This is not to say that oil didn’t matter. During the lean years in between the booms we had some oil income but not a boom per say, and that did not translate into economic growth.
So what is the likelihood of another oil boom? Or rather, what oil prices, given our rather stable production, would we need to get another meaningful oil boom given our population and population growth rates?
From my calculations we would need oil prices between $150 and $200 to get another 2010s oil boom again. Probably not happening. To get another 1980s boom we would need prices between $400 and $500 per barrel. Definitely not happening. What does this all mean? The likelihood of another meaningful oil boom is very small, and maybe zero. So why exactly are we waiting for oil prices to go up for?