I have a secret.
Amid all the talk of an “oil boom,” the world still consumes more oil than it produces.
It's an open secret. The EIA publishes the data right on its website. Here's an unadulterated image of it:
There it is, plain as day.
In the most recent year for which there's data, the world consumed 87.421 million barrels of oil per day.
It produced 87.085 million.
Boys and girls, what happens when demand is greater than supply?
That's right! Prices go up.
They started 2011 at $91.58 and finished at $99.73.
And have a look at the broader five-year trend:
When the global economy isn't experiencing economic death throes, the market knows oil should head higher. And that's what it's done since 2009, when Texas crude bottomed out at $37.00.
We live on the cusp, not realizing how close we are each day to not having enough. But the just-in-time method has weak links, doesn't it?
New York and New Jersey rationed gas by license plate number just two months ago.
What Happens When...
Six of the top ten oil-producing countries are now also on the list of top oil-consuming countries?
But here's the thing: Their rate of consumption is growing much faster than production growth, especially in Saudi Arabia and Brazil. I wouldn't be surprised if Mexico made the top consumers list some year soon as well.
When these countries had smaller populations and economies, they didn't need as much oil. Now that they're growing, they need more of their oil for themselves. And that means less oil available for the global market — and for importers like the U.S. and China.
Prices have to rise.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I go long oil when it's below $85.
I trade it with the ProShares Ultra Crude Oil ETF (NYSE: UCO). I've had Early Advantage readers do it ten times now. And we've never lost on it.
The global oil market is so tight that one positive economic announcement or one supply disruption sends prices soaring.
And even with the shale revolution we — and now everyone else — have been telling you about, the United States still consumes 18.9 million barrels per day while producing 10.13 million barrels. So much for oil independence.
However, higher prices do make shale drillers more profitable.
That's why energy investors love high oil prices. It makes profiting so much easier.
Oil's gone from $88.00 to $93.00 over the past few days...
It's left my portfolio a bit higher — and me scratching my head at respected analysts who were calling for $40 oil within 12 months this past spring.
Some people will never get it.
Call it like you see it,
Nick is the Founder and President of the Outsider Club, and the Investment Director of the thousands-strong stock advisory, Early Advantage. Co-author of two best-selling investment books, including Energy Investing for Dummies, his insights have been shared on news programs and in magazines and newspapers around the world. For more on Nick, take a look at his editor's page.