23 September 2005

US$5-trillion needed to tap oil reserves

The International Energy Agency said technological investments will expand world oil supplies, dismissing "peak oil" theories that supplies are running out. "There is no shortage of oil and gas in the ground, but quenching the world's thirst for them will call for major investment in modern technologies," IEA executive director Claude Mandil said in a statement marking the publication of a 150-page book Resources to Reserves, Oil and Gas Technologies for the Energy Markets of the Future. At least US$5-trillion in investment will be needed in the next three decades to tap reserves, the IEA said. The IEA has never before directly responded to "peak oil" theorists, who say the agency is overly optimistic about estimates of increased production. "Peak oil" is based partly on the work of M. King Hubbert, a former Royal Dutch Shell geophysicist who predicted in 1949 that US domestic onshore oil production would plateau by about 1970, a prediction that proved accurate. The IEA said a 5% increase in average recovery rates from the current level of about 35% would "bring more oil than Saudi Arabia's reserves." Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, has the world's largest oil reserves at 263 billion barrels, according to BP statistics. So-called non-conventional oil sources, such as heavy-oil deposits in Canada and Venezuela and reserves in extremely deep water or remote regions may hold more than half of the world's undiscovered oil, the report said. The IEA estimates there are roughly 10 trillion barrels of oil equivalent of conventional oil and gas in place and at least as much non-conventional oil.
(National Post 050923)

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