Peak-oil enthusiasts and skeptics alike will find much to chew on in this page-one piece from today’s Wall Street Journal.

By all accounts, China’s explosive energy-demand growth over the past several years has strained the ability of OPEC and other oil producers to keep up. Now, the Journal claims, that pressure shows signs of easing:

This year, China is on track to account for about 16% of the world’s new oil consumption, little more than half last year’s share. The Centre for Global Energy Studies estimates that Chinese demand will rise by about 230,000 barrels of oil a day this year — a large increase, but a far cry from the 860,000-barrel-a-day jump of 2004 and a much more manageable pace for global suppliers.

Reader support makes our work possible. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations TRIPLED!

The article also features the spectacle of a big-time oil exec engaging in a bit of what’s known on Wall Street as “jawboning” — trying to influence the market (in this case talking it down) with mere words. The Journal reports:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Though most market watchers were caught off guard by last year’s steep run-up in China’s oil demand, [Exxon Mobil CEO Lee] Raymond said that its consumption growth has been generally in line with industry expectations. “Speculation” accounts for about $20 of the current per-barrel price of oil, Mr. Raymond estimated. “The fundamentals” of supply and demand, he said, “support something like $35 or $40.” The Exxon chief said that, in about a decade, it will be likelier that oil prices will be below $35 than they will be to stay at today’s level of about $60 a barrel. [Emphasis added.]

Might outrage over last quarter’s startling profits, as well as the Congressional price-gouging hearings, have influenced Raymond’s desire to describe a frothy, puffed-up oil market?