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Oil prices are still high. Ten reasons that's a problem.

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(Read caption) In this March 2012 file photo, PetroChina oil rigs are seen near the banks of a snow covered lake in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province. New oil sources may help supply somewhat, Tverberg writes, but the high cost of extraction and resulting high oil prices are not likely to go away.

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A person might think from looking at news reports that our oil problems are gone, but oil prices are still high.

In fact, the new “tight oil” sources of oil which are supposed to grow in supply are still expensive to extract. If we expect to have more tight oil and more oil from other unconventional sources, we need to expect to continue to have high oil prices. The new oil may help supply somewhat, but the high cost of extraction is not likely to go away.

Why are high oil prices a problem?

1. It is not just oil prices that rise. The cost of food rises as well, partly because oil is used in many ways in growing and transporting food and partly because of the competition from biofuels for land, sending land prices up. The cost of shipping goods of all types rises, since oil is used in nearly all methods of transports. The cost of materials that are made from oil, such as asphalt and chemical products, also rises. 

 
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