Ah yes, peak oil. The nasty specter that floats deviously about the head of the energy industry like a Sword of Damocles. Ever since M. K. Hubbert speculated that oil production would eventually reach a point of no return and then it's all downhill from there, energy specialists have reacted with either stringent denial or mounting fear.

So when an organization such as CERA predicts that production will increase to 112 million barrels of oil in the next decade, which is about 25 million barrels more than current levels, the more cautious Association for the Study of Peak Oil-USA has decided to make them put their money where their mouth is. ASPO-USA has bet CERA $100,000 that their research can't support their optimistic claims. They've even published a score card showing CERA's not-so-accurate past predictions.

ASPO-USA co-founder Steve Andrews says, “CERA is forecasting an addition of 20 million barrels within a decade. That’s a vision in search of reality. Anything is possible on paper, but we are betting you can’t do that with the drillbit.”

CERA so far has remained mum on the issue, declining opportunities for a debate. Shame, because it would be fun to watch the rhetoric fly on both sides.

–Stephen Payne, Editor, Oil and Gas Investor This Week; spayne@hartenergy.com