But like all commodities, oil is cyclical. There is no gentle way to recalibrate supply and demand, and inevitably, this brutal downturn in the industry will sow the seeds of the next run-up in oil prices.
On the demand side, the picture is improving rapidly. Global consumption will jump by 1.7 million barrels per day this year, the most in five years, despite the slowdown in China and emerging markets, according to the International Energy Agency.
On the supply side, U.S. production is tumbling, and may continue to do so as long as prices stay so low. Longer term, output outside the United States may be affected, as this year's reduction in investments begins to be felt across the global industry.
Surging demand and plunging output are a recipe for a tighter market and higher prices.
US Output Must Grow Again
Any bullish outlook for oil must be tempered by the fact that the U.S. producers still have a vast resource base of oil that they can tap into. That oil hasn't gone away, and drilling will quickly resume when prices rise to economic levels.
That said, going forward, the market needs U.S. oil. The output to satisfy the annual 1 million barrels per day or more of demand growth must come from somewhere. With OPEC effectively maxed out, the United States is the only country that can bring online significant volumes of production in a relatively short amount of time.