Analysts foresee 'new world energy order'

A leading global energy monitor fears there may not be enough oil out there to slake the world's thirst -- and is preparing a landmark forecast that could reverberate through the global economy even as major companies announce fuel-related cutbacks. Less oil would mean even higher prices for everything from gasoline to food.

"We are entering a new world energy order," chief economist Fatih Birol of The International Energy Agency (IEA) told The Associated Press. Market analysts call the Paris-based IEA the world's most reliable independent source of oil information and welcomed its decision to undertake a deep study of oil supplies. Birol said the IEA study, whose results will be released in November, was prompted by concern about the volatility of world oil markets and uncertainty about supply levels.

Birol said one of the key shifts coming up is that the world will become increasingly reliant on national oil companies instead of multinational ones. "Up to now, we have seen that the international oil companies were responsible for bringing a big chunk of the oil to the markets. Now, in many cases, since existing reserves are declining, a big part of oil will need to come from national oil companies. And they have their own conditions, their own context."

Birol noted that, "Both on the demand side and supply side, we have new actors who change the rules of the game." He said most demand now and in the coming decades will come from China, India and the Middle East. That is a stark shift from past decades, when the U.S. and Europe were demand-drivers.

[Associated Press]

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