I am skeptical, too, and think the only way to figure it out is to read all I can and hope to get some degree of understanding. Perhaps reality will emerge from the fog. In the meantime, I think it is best to error on the side of conservation and preservation of this very useful, and finite gift of the earth.
There are a couple things that don't make sense to me. One is why would the government/oil companies be so quiet about peak oil? This seemingly very big issue has been strangely kept out of the public eye. There are a few documents here and there, but they are mere tokens. Why has the government not been honest about oil as the rationale for invading Iraq? It makes much more sense than WMDs, or 9/11, or evil empires, etc. Much of this country's history has been directed by the concept of "manifest destiny". If the survival of western civilization were admittedly at stake, I think more Americans would support a war of pillage and conquest than one based on the lies they have been fed. So why are we still happily trotting down the garden path of plenty?
The other thing is market altruism; I don't buy it. I don't trust the "market" to find solutions to the problems of the masses when it doesn't benefit the market even more. I wonder if the super wealthy might see a managed disintegration of our present society as one more game to play and win, leaving them to rule an “improved” planet. I don't think they are stupid; they see the same things we do: overpopulation, pollution, global warming, deforestation, etc. One big, and ugly answer is to radically reduce population. The disease, famine, etc. postulated by the peak oil disaster proponents would be an effective way to do this. Why build extermination/concentration camps when natural disaster can get the job done.
Big oil, like all big corporations, is driven by the quarterly bottom line. Profits today are more urgent than long term survival. When the shit hits the fan, the big shareholders and executives bail out with their plunder, leaving the rest of us with a bag of air. They don't give a shit about the company, its employees, or its customers. Their loyalty is to themselves and their cronies. The company is just a deck of cards to be played to win.
The only meaningful long term goal of the super wealthy is to build dynasties and insure their descendants are in control. It is social Darwinism taken to an extreme.
The extremely wealthy today will survive an oil crisis in fine shape, or at least vastly better shape than we will. They don't need "cheap oil"; they will be able to afford needed oil products at any price. The society you and I live in may collapse and whither, but they will be living safe and comfortable lives in enclaves guarded by private armies. It may only take a generation or two for the dust to settle to a point where the elite can re-emerge and take control of the impoverished masses.
World Empire; that is quite a heritage to leave to your children!