[p2p-research] Oil running out far faster than predicted: report

Ryan rlanham1963 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 13 02:46:08 CET 2009

  Sent to you by Ryan via Google Reader: Oil running out far faster than
predicted: report via Environment news, comment and analysis from the
Guardian | guardian.co.uk by Terry Macalister on 11/12/09

• Swedish academics slate IEA's report as 'political document' for
countries with vested interest in low prices
• Oil production 'likely to be 75m barrels a day rather than 105m'

A leading academic institute has urged European governments to review
global oil supplies for themselves because of the "politicisation" of
the International Energy Agency's figures.

Uppsala University in Sweden today published a scathing assessment of
the IEA's annual World Energy Outlook, saying some assumptions
drastically underplayed the scale of future oil shortages.

Kjell Aleklett, professor of physics at Uppsala and co-author of a new
report "The Peak of the Oil Age", claims oil production is more likely
to be 75m barrels a day by 2030 than the "unrealistic" 105m used by the
IEA in its recently published World Energy Outlook 2009. The academic,
who runs a Global Energy unit at Uppsala, described the IEA's report as
a "political document" developed for consuming countries with a vested
interest in low prices.

The report from Aleklett and others, including Simon Snowden from the
University of Liverpool, says: "We find the production outlook made by
the IEA to be problematic in the light of historical experience and
production patterns. The IEA is expecting the oil to be extracted at a
pace never previously seen without any justification for this

There is particular concern about high future production rates
from "unconventional" sources such as tar sands, with the Uppsala
report saying there is a lack of information about the figures in the
2008 Outlook and largely repeated in the latest one. "We must therefore
regard the IEA production figure as somewhat dubious until it is
explained more fully," added the Swedish report, which is to be
published in the journal Energy Policy.

The Uppsala findings come days after the Guardian reported that IEA
whistleblowers had expressed deep misgivings about the way energy
statistics were being collected and interpreted at the Paris-based
organisation. Insiders questioned whether US influence and fears of
stock market "panic" were encouraging the IEA to downplay the potential
for future oil scarcity.

Aleklett, whose latest work was funded by the state-owned Swedish
Energy Agency, said he had experience of similar internal worries about
the IEA.

"The Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) gave
me the task of writing the report, Peak Oil and the Evolving Strategies
of Oil Importing and Exporting Countries. This report was one of those
discussed at a round-table meeting that was held in the IEA's
conference room in Paris. At that opportunity, in November 2007, I had
a number of private conversations with officers of the IEA. The
revelations now reported in the Guardian were revealed to me then under
the promise that I not name the source. I had earlier heard the same
thing from another officer from Norway who, at the time he spoke of the
pressure being applied by the USA, was working for the IEA."

The energy agency dismissed the suggestions of political influence on
its analysis as "groundless". It said the annual document was reviewed
by 200 different and independent experts.

The IEA was always trying to find ways to make its estimates even
stronger, a spokeswoman said: "We would be happy to see any initiative
to improve the data quality on reserves and decline rates. We believe
our World Energy Outlook 2008 opened an important door to have more
field data and transparency and would very much welcome similar efforts
to help improve transparency in the oil sector."

Meanwhile, Steve Sorrell, author of a recent oil supply report for the
UK Energy Research Centre, which also warned of British government
complacency on the issue, said the Uppsala paper was a "useful
contribution" to the debate on "peak oil" – the period at which maximum
levels of crude output is reached after which there will be terminal

"The IEA has taken some useful steps in recent years to give more
information about how it is arriving at certain conclusions and that is
to be welcomed. But its [oil supply/demand] scenarios have also changed
radically and that deserves greater explanation. We still need greater
access to the data that provides these assumptions," he said.

Aleklett added: "I am a scientist, not an economist or a politician. I
believe in the facts and if someone can prove me wrong I will happily
change my mind."

- Oil
- Energy
- SwedenTerry Macalister
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