Today's New York Times story on the oil industry is full of juicy factoids and observations:
1) Western corporations now control just 13 percent of the world's oil production.
2) In the latest quarter, the five biggest publicly traded oil companies said their oil output had declined by a total of 614,000 barrels a day, the steepest of five consecutive quarters of declines.
3) The 10 largest holders of oil reserves are state-owned companies, like Russia's Gazprom and Iran's national oil company.
4) This is the money graf: "At a recent conference in Madrid, Christophe de Margerie, the chief executive of the French company Total, said the world would be hard-pressed to raise supplies beyond 95 million barrels a day by 2020. Only a few years ago, forecasters expected 120 million barrels a day by 2030, a level many analysts now view as unrealistic."
My bottom line: Big Oil will continue to diversify into alternative energy. It has no choice. So before we start taxing its "windfall profits," we should remember that all that dough will increasingly go toward clean energy. And the private sector will do a much better choice vetting new technologies than Washington. But I also find it interesting that just as whole swaths of the globe are off limits to Big Oil—experts call this "geopolitical peak oil"—so are whole swaths of America, such as ANWR and the coasts of California and Florida. I guess this is self-imposed "political peak oil."