Worries Over Oil Shortage Swelling

When oil production stops rising to meet growing demand, it "will result in dramatically higher oil prices, which will cause protracted economic hardship in the United States and the world," a team of Energy Department consultants has warned.

Published: 23-Mar-2005

In the space of a couple of hours last week, crude oil prices hit a record $56 a barrel, President Bush fretted publicly over world oil shortages and the Senate voted to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to drilling.

The converging events drew attention to what administration officials call a temporary global energy crunch. Bigger worries also are bubbling to the surface -- fears of a day of reckoning over world oil reserves.

Even as China and India are joining the grab for oil, most experts agree that world production will peak sometime in the next several decades -- more likely in the next couple of years, say a gaggle of academics.

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