One who intends to leave others better off for his having existed.

3/11/11

On global oil supplies: If every new beginning is another beginning’s end, where’s the middle?


Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower


 


The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage…


 


The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.


 


The allegations raise serious questions about the accuracy of the organization’s latest World Energy Outlook on oil demand and supply…


 


In particular they question the prediction in the last World Economic Outlook, believed to be repeated again this year, that oil production can be raised from its current level of 83m barrels a day to 105m barrels. External critics have frequently argued that this cannot be substantiated by firm evidence and say the world has already passed its peak in oil production.


 


Now the "peak oil" theory is gaining support at the heart of the global energy establishment. "The IEA in 2005 was predicting oil supplies could rise as high as 120m barrels a day by 2030 although it was forced to reduce this gradually to 116m and then 105m last year," said the IEA source, who was unwilling to be identified for fear of reprisals inside the industry. "The 120m figure always was nonsense but even today's number is much higher than can be justified and the IEA knows this.


 


"Many inside the organization believe that maintaining oil supplies at even 90m to 95m barrels a day would be impossible…And the Americans fear the end of oil supremacy because it would threaten their power over access to oil resources," he added.


 


A second senior IEA source, who has now left but was also unwilling to give his name, said…the fact was that there was not as much oil in the world as had been admitted. "We have [already] entered the 'peak oil' zone. I think that the situation is really bad," he added.


 


Matt Simmons, a respected oil industry expert, has long questioned the decline rates and oil statistics provided by Saudi Arabia on its own fields. He has raised questions about whether peak oil is much closer than many have accepted.


 


A report by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) last month said worldwide production of conventionally extracted oil could "peak" and go into terminal decline before 2020 – but that the government was not facing up to the risk. Steve Sorrell, chief author of the report, said forecasts suggesting oil production will not peak before 2030 were "at best optimistic and at worst implausible"...


 


Terry Macailster


Guardian.co.uk


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