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 prices are soaring, it is because there is no more oil.
However, if precisely they are blazing today, it is because a hurricane is devastating 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, underinvestment. In the medium term, that is to say four or five years, the uncertainty lies in the response of supply and demand to the higher price levels observed today. It is only in the long term that a resource problem can be considered. In the short term, the problem is that for two to three years, we have been facing a continuous increase in demand, while supply has not increased at an equivalent rate. The result is an erosion of the available production capacity of the OPEC countries: this overcapacity has thus fallen from 5% of world consumption in 1990 to 2% today. We can also highlight the tensions at the refining level. At the slightest incident, there is a problem with the disposal of the product. The tense international climate is causing pressure on prices. As to how far this increase can go, I believe that the figures announced by some - up to $ 300 - are completely out of the ordinary. What is clear is that the market reacts very quickly. Hurricane Katrina weighs heavily on the market today, as the announcement of possible attacks in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago. 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 is of course in the right direction. All the resolutions of recent years have been forgotten and waste should be reduced. For example, we forget that the use of air conditioning in cars results in an increase in gasoline consumption. Regarding a possible reintroduction of the floating TIPP, I believe that this is not the appropriate solution if we want to reduce France's dependence on oil. If the increase in prices creates social problems, they must be addressed, but in other ways.
Does this rise in the price of oil not revive the debate on renewable energies?
Oil is consumed largely in transport. 95% of the energy consumption of the transport sector comes from oil and there is no significant alternative to date. We can certainly use biofuels or electric power, but this is still small.