Lehman Brothers has warned the oil sector could be heading for a crisis similar to the dot.com collapse of 2001.
The investment bank says that as in the dot-com period, when "new economy" stocks became popular, a growing number of Wall Street analysts have been repeatedly raising their forecasts as oil prices have risen.
“These revised forecasts have been partially responsible for new investor flows, driving prompt and forward prices to perhaps unsustainable levels,” it warns.
The banks is concerned that perceived market tightness belies reality and says past performance is predicting future inflows, which is in turn creating an asset bubble.
Other problems it identifies are producers have not been active, allowing “peak oil” and “peak demand” theories to reign.
Worryingly, it forecasts temporary spurts of strength are likely to desert oil markets by the fourth quarter.
Lehman Brothers says: “Market momentum is likely to continue to reinforce the view that even if peak oil is not yet here and even quite far off, there is unlikely to be new supply in the market for at least half a decade.
“Summer market tightness could, under these circumstances, continue to propel oil prices upward to untested levels. But when peak prices hit, we believe they are also likely to fall precipitously.
“That is the way cyclical turning points tend to occur-in the midst of a market trend, turning points can be sudden, unexpected, and severe. If history is a guide, the turning point will come, getting the timing right is the difficult part.”
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Reporting to Steve Hill
Appointed on 19 September