Comment: Just how much oil does the Middle East really have, and does it matter?

Just a few months ago, oil economists were debating if the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries had the power to hold oil prices in the mid-$20/bbl range. There was talk of the increasing demands for oil from China's new economic prosperity, but generally the age-old perception that supply must always equal demand in a properly functioning open market remained in tact.Admittedly, it was recognized that production in North America was in relentless decline, meaning that the need for growing imports was not about to abate. The growing dependence on oil from the Middle East did give rise to some concerns, with the countries in that region being commonly depicted as "politically ...

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