How does one explain such an explosion in oil prices?
First of all it is necessary to differentiate between the short and the long term. Some analysts say that if the prices soar, it is because there is no more oil.
However, if they are blazing today, it is because a hurricane devastates the Gulf of Mexico. In the short term, the surge in the price of oil is due to a combination of phenomena: growth in world demand, reduction in stocks, under-investment. In the medium term, that is to say four or five years, the uncertainty lies in the response of supply and demand to the level of higher prices that we see today. It is only in the long term that we can envisage a problem of resources. In the short term, the problem is that for two or three years, we have faced a continuous increase in demand, while supply has not increased at an equivalent speed. The result is an erosion of the available production capacity of OPEC countries: this overcapacity has dropped from 5% of world consumption in 1990 to 2% today. We can also highlight tensions at the refining level. At the slightest incident, there is a product layout problem. The tense international climate brings pressure on prices. As to how far this hike can go, I believe the numbers announced by some - up to $ 300 - are far-fetched. What is clear is that the market reacts very quickly. Hurricane Katrina weighs today on the market as a fortnight ago the announcement of possible attacks in Saudi Arabia. And a slowdown in demand would weigh on prices in the opposite direction.
What solutions exist to deal with this price explosion?
Anything that can lead to energy savings goes of course in the right direction. All the resolutions of the past few years have been forgotten and waste should be reduced. We forget, for example, that the use of air conditioning in cars results in an increase in gasoline consumption. Concerning a possible reintroduction of the floating TIPP, I believe that it is not the adapted solution if one wishes to reduce the oil dependence of France. If rising prices create social problems, they need to be addressed, but in other ways.
Does this rise in the price of oil not revive the debate on renewable energies?
Oil is largely consumed in transport. 95% of the energy consumption of the transport sector comes from petroleum and there is no significant alternative to date. We can certainly use biofuels or electrical energy, but this remains reduced.