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    For Oil Prices, a Case of Schizophrenia

    Experts predict that oil prices will drop to $35 per barrel -- or increase to $100.

    BOSTON -- At the RBC Capital Markets 2005 North American Energy and Power Conference, a survey found that two-thirds of energy executives and institutional investors polled expect oil prices to fall back to $35 per barrel in the next five years -- while nearly one-third said it could reach $100 per barrel in the same time frame.

    Respondents expect oil prices to remain high for the balance of the year, peaking at $62 per barrel, and believe oil prices will retreat to roughly $53 per barrel by year-end. They also said that the average price at the pump this year will be about $2.60 per gallon.

    However, higher energy costs don't come without a price to the general economy, the execs said. Almost half of the respondents said that they are concerned about an economic slowdown.

    "The effects of rising oil prices on global economic growth and the demand for energy in China continue to impact the fortunes of the energy industry," said Kurt Hallead, managing director at RBC Capital Markets. "While this trend will likely continue, concerns about terrorism have largely abated, thereby substantially reducing the supply disruption premium."

    RBC Capital Markets, the corporate and investment banking arm of RBC Financial Group, has a North American energy practice focusing on exploration and production; power, pipelines and utilities; oilfield services; MLPs, income trusts and limited partnerships; and refining and marketing.

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