Consumers should brace for crude oil and natural gas prices possibly doubling or tripling this winter, Matthew Simmons, a best-selling author and oil-supply bear, said on Wednesday.
"Prices are really cheap today and they need to go a lot higher, and they probably will go a lot higher," Simmons said in Ottawa.
"I am very concerned, given the destructive damage done by (Hurricanes) Katrina and Rita, that the United States must be closer to starting to see significant product shortages than we've seen since 1979."
Too much got destroyed and too little has been brought back on stream, the Houston-based analyst said.
He also said that cold weather this winter could bring a very high risk of natural gas curtailment in the United States.
"Either one of those events (oil product shortage or natural gas shortage) could send prices two to three times higher than they are today," he said after a speech in Ottawa.
That could translate into natural gas prices of $40 per million British thermal units from more than $13 now, he said. Doubling or tripling crude would put it in the range of $125 to $190 per barrel.
"Everyone keeps thinking there is a (price) ceiling...There is no ceiling," said Simmons, who wrote in his book "Twilight in the Desert" that Saudi oil output is at or near its peak.
He said he has seen little sign that higher prices so far have done much to reduce consumption.
Simmons said supplies of heating fuel oil were in okay shape, but could drain fast if the weather turned cold. Diesel is tight and shortages of jet fuel had caused some planes to be diverted from some airports.
"It's going to be painful for people to get used to actually paying real money for a really valuable resource," he said.