Oil prices could double and surge past all-time highs of around $150 a barrel with a possible supply crunch on the horizon, analysts at Bernstein Research warned.
Energy producers had pulled back on spending during a period of weak crude prices, shunning large exploration projects. Only 15 companies are now responsible for 80% of global oil reserves, according to a Bernstein research note cited by CNBC. By cutting investments, the industry risks creating a shortage of oil in the long run, Bernstein said.
“Any shortfall in supply will result in a super-spike in prices, potentially much larger than the [$150-a-barrel] spike witnessed in 2008,” the analysts wrote in a note to clients Friday.
Oil companies currently hold enough reserves to last 10 years. By comparison, the industry had 15 years of reserves in 2000.
“At some point the proverbial ‘chickens will come home to roost,’” Bernstein said, according to CNBC. “The impact will be production declines and another super-cycle in oil prices.”
U.S. crude spiked to a record of about $147 a barrel in July 2008. Prices settled at $73.80 a barrel on Friday.