Are you wondering when—or if—the price of gasoline is going to ease back from its recent highs?  You’re not alone; that seems to be the question of the hour.  But the truth is that there is absolutely no firm consensus on when, if, or how a substantial drop in crude prices might come about.

Yesterday’s edition of The New York Times had an fascinating summary of the international oil situation, focusing on Saudi Arabia.  The article discusses the competing estimates of various experts who, based on roughly the same set of evidence, have dramatically different views about how much oil the country can produce, and on what timetable.

Of course, virtually none of the Northwest’s petroleum comes from the Middle East; most of it comes from Alaska and Alberta.  But oil is what they call a "fungible commodity"–which means that it doesn’t really matter where our oil actually comes from, since there’s really just one big global oil market.  At this point, the price of Alaskan crude moves bascially in lock-step with international trends, so in terms of the price we pay for oil, political turbulence in far-flung parts of the globe might as well be in our own backyard.  That’s the price we pay, apparently, for shackling our economy to a commodity of which we produce not a single drop.