Empty gas station at night

¿Se está volviendo inviable el petróleo?

LONDRES – La opinión generalizada acerca de la reciente caída del precio del petróleo es que estamos ante una repetición del colapso de 1985-1986, cuando Arabia Saudita elevó su producción como parte de una disputa con otros miembros del cartel de la OPEC. Se piensa que esta vez el país hace lo mismo como respuesta a su pérdida de mercado frente a la producción de gas de esquisto en los Estados Unidos.

Pero existe otro paralelo incluso más relevante, y con importantes consecuencias para el precio del crudo en el largo plazo. El actual colapso recuerda una caída similar en el precio del carbón, desde un breve pico de $140 por tonelada a cerca de los $40 actuales, causando que algunos yacimientos se volvieran “financieramente inviables” (es decir, que el coste de explotarlos supera los ingresos potenciales).

La caída estuvo determinada por las políticas ambientales de largo plazo, como los programas que apuntan a mitigar el cambio climático, que han causado una menor demanda de carbón. La proporción del carbón en el mercado energético se ha visto reducida por las iniciativas de mejora de la calidad del aire en China, las normas de emisiones de carbono y mercurio en Estados Unidos, el abaratamiento del gas natural y las crecientes inversiones en energías renovables.

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