Where you a car owner or driver when gasoline price hit $4 per gallon a decade or so ago? If so, you probably remember that mass hysteria that hit the country. Some of the media were saying things about "the good times being over" and gas prices were going up much further. And staying there.

Overnight, the "conventional wisdom" of people being more or less unconcerned about petroleum costs shifted to a new mindset. It was no longer smart to drive gas-thirsty trucks and SUVs. As matter of fact, it was looked down-upon. Smart, conscientious consumers moved over electric and hybrid cars -quickly.

Well, it didn't happen

10 years later, it appears that this conventional wisdom remained intact. The price of gasoline didn't go much higher, and today, well, gas is cheap. The best news is that according to many petroleum experts, its likely to stay that way for quite a while.

The End of Petroleum Pessimism Back in the late 1990s, peak oil theorists, environmentalists, economists, and others were convinced that oil was running out, scarcity was coming, and the world-wide battle for oil resources was about to begin. No one was predicting that gas prices, adjusted for inflation, could possibly ever decline to near historic lows. And yet, that is what we have today.

Peak Oil Back in 1956, while working at Shell Oil's lab in Houston, Marion Hubbert, Shell's head engineer, predicted that oil production in the United States would peak at some point between 1966 and 1972. And after hitting that peak, all of America's oil production would begin a steady decline.

Well, as it turned out, most of America's oil field did peak in the early 1970s and Hubbert's scientific methods were quickly extended out to oil production facilities across the globe. The results were a trifle sobering -virtually all the world's oil wells were going "peak" in the early 2000s and decline after that.

New Techniques

But the development of advanced oil harvesting techniques, like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking resulted in a radical increase in the world's oil production. In fact, from a low of 5 million barrels a day in 2008, oil production in the United States has almost doubled today. American oil production is now almost at historic peaks.

And it should stay that way for a while

The federal government's Energy Information Association (EIA) expects U.S. oil production to maintain 9 million barrels a day for at least another decade. And while America is producing more oil than ever, the rest of the world is pumping as fast as they can too. Why? Because they need the money. Governments in countries like Russia, Iran and Venezuela depend on oil revenues and can't afford to slow down exports. And Saudi Arabia, long the lowest-cost and largest producer of crude oil in the world has increased their production too. Today, the world is awash in oil.

And demand is slowing

Americans are using less gasoline than they used to. In 2007, the country burned through 142 billion gallons of gasoline — just about twice what we used in 1967. But with the economic slowdown of 2008 came a drop in usage. And by 2015, when economic activity was supposed to be increasing, that number had dropped even further. As a country, we have started to use oil more efficiently and hopefully will continue to do so.

Plus, our subject matter experts at, a Kia dealer in Clarksville, TN, bring up a good point: demographic changes are reducing demand as well. As the baby boomers age into retirement, they use less gasoline. And younger Americans are increasingly moving into cities where public transportation is more accessible and gas use is decreasing.

The Future Of course there will be price fluctuations in the future but barring some unforeseen event — like war in the Middle East— oil should find a relatively low, stable price point and stay near there for a while. It is important that we not squander this opportunity though. At some point oil is going to become scarce and we should have realistic, alternative energy technologies ready to go.