The fear is that all the easy-to-reach crude has been found. These may be 'the good old days,' one expert says.
"As much as you're uncomfortable with today's oil prices, these are going to be the good old days," oil expert Robert L. Hirsch told a recent Santa Barbara gathering of policymakers and environmentalists. "We're talking about pain here that is unimaginable."
In five years, demand for oil may exceed 94 million barrels a day and continue rising, spurred by growth in China and India, the International Energy Agency estimates.
Experts put daily global production at between 82 million and 86 million barrels, and even the most optimistic oil authorities can't see production keeping up with demand without a big boost from unconventional sources such as Canada's vast oil sands or U.S. oil shale.