Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower  

Posted by Big Gav in

The Guardian has an article on claims by anonymous whistleblowers at the IEA that the US pressures the agency to release unrealistic estimates of future oil supplies - 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 for fear of triggering panic buying.

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 organisation's latest World Energy Outlook on oil demand and supply to be published tomorrow – which is used by the British and many other governments to help guide their wider energy and climate change policies.
'There's suspicion the IEA has been influenced by the US' Link to this audio

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 organisation believe that maintaining oil supplies at even 90m to 95m barrels a day would be impossible but there are fears that panic could spread on the financial markets if the figures were brought down further. 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 a key rule at the organisation was that it was "imperative not to anger the Americans" but 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.

TreeHugger has a post referencing an interview with Jeremy Leggett at The Oil Drum - Five Hundred Oil-Industry Geologists Vote on Peak Oil.
The theory of peak oil itself is fairly non-controversial. But saying that we're close to this absolutely peak in oil and gas production is still debated by very knowledgeable people on both sides. A few years ago, it seemed like the balance was tipped in the direction of the "peak oil is not a problem for the near future" side, but lately, it seems like things might be going the other way. At the Petroleum Geology Conference in London, 500 geologists took a vote on wether "Peak oil is no longer a concern" (something that was argued by some of the speakers). The results were interesting.

Only about 1/3 of the votes supported that claim!

This was surprising even to Jeremy Leggett who argued against the claim that "peak oil is no longer a concern". In an interview with The Oil Drum he said:
Q: Were you expecting to win this debate?

No way! I thought I'd be lucky to get 10% of the vote. I expected it to the one of those masochistic experiences I put my hand up for, from time to time, in the possibly misguided feeling that it is better to preach to the unconverted than the converted. And I don't kid myself that ten minutes of woffly rhetoric from me changed any minds, or that David's arguments were so poor that he converted people for me. This was a pre-formed group opinion.

Q: What do you think the result means?

The result seems to suggest that the rank-and-file practitioners hold a very different view of peak oil from the BP/Shell/Exxon etc. top tables.


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