Experts do not expert falling energy prices

A great majority of experts questioned in the course of the ZEW energy barometer by the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) expect rising prices for electricity, natural gas, crude oil and coal for industrial clients over the next five years. In the short run, i.e. over the next six months, most experts forecast stagnating prices for coal and natural gas. With regard to electricity and crude oil an eqal number of experts predict stagnating and rising prices respectively.

An overwhelming majory of the more than 200 experts asked expect energy prices to rise in the long run. Thus 84% think that prices for electricity will increase over the next five years. About 13% believe that prices will stay at their current level and just 3% forecast prices to fall.

According to experts, oil and natural gas prices will also continue to rise over the years to come. Approximately 84% of those questioned think that prices for natural gas will increase and 82% expect this with regard to prices for oil. Only a minority believes that prices will stop rising and remain at a certain level (11% with regard to oil and 9% with regard to natural gas). The percentage of experts who forecast prices to fall in the long run is even smaller (about 7% as far as gas and oil is concerned).
Expectations as to the development of coal prices, however, are not that pessimistic. Even though 65% of experts still expect rising prices, 30% believe that by the year 2012 the coal price could be at a similar level like in 2007 and 5% even think that it could even fall below this year´s level.

As far as the short-term development of energy prices is concerned, experts had still predicted falling prices half a year ago. However, these predictions had soon to be corrected. In the course of the current survey just 49% of experts think that electricity prices will stagnate over the next six months (in the first half of 2007 about 57% thought so). Just 2% expect prices to fall (as compared to 6% in the first half of 2007). On the other hand, 49% now believe that electricity prices will increase over the six months to come.

Experts´ view on the short-term development of oil and gas prices is also far more sceptic than six months ago. Thus, a narrow majority expects stagnating prices (about 47% for oil and 50% for natural gas). Approximately 45% of experts, however, think that oil prices will increase and 40% believe so with regard to natural gas. About two thirds of experts predict coal prices to remain constant, about 30% believe that they will rise and just 3% forecast coal prices to fall in the next six months.
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