Replacing Depleting Oil Will Shortly Outpace Fresh Demand

oil camels
Peak oil poses biggest threat to peak oil, Wikileaks cable shows

You think a population approaching seven billion puts pressure on oil supplies? Soon, just making up for peak oil losses will take twice as much new oil as that, according to the Aramco whistle blower quoted by Wikileaks, Dr. Sadad al-Husseini, and covered in detail by our own Tafline Laylin this week.

“Satisfying increases in global demand will require bringing online annually at least 6 million b/d of worldwide output, 2 million to satisfy increased demand and 4 million to compensate for declining production in existing fields.

He should know. He is the former Executive Vice President for Exploration and Production at Saudi Aramco.

A leaked Wikileaks cable from a diplomat working for the Bush administration in 2007 revealed that the US was alerted that oil reserves in Saudi Arabia were  “overestimated” and that the Saudis will soon be unable to keep up with demand – as soon as 2012 – with some early mini peak oil shocks by as soon as 2009, as our own

Just how much of an impact that this will have is found towards the bottom of  the full cable:

In al-Husseini’s view, once 50 percent depletion of original proven reserves has been reached and the 180 billion bbls threshold crossed, a slow but steady output decline will ensue and no amount of effort will be able to stop it.

By al-Husseini’s calculations, approximately 116 billion barrels of oil have been produced by Saudi Arabia, meaning only 64 billion barrels remain before reaching this crucial point of inflection.

At that point, keeping up with world demand will mean simultaneously making up for depleting supplies:

Thus, while Aramco will likely be able to surpass 12 million b/d in the next decade, soon after reaching that threshold the company will have to expend maximum effort to simply fend off impending output declines.

Satisfying increases in global demand will require bringing online annually at least 6 million b/d of worldwide output, 2 million to satisfy increased demand and 4 million to compensate for declining production in existing fields.

What is extraordinary about his bleak prognosis is his estimate that merely making up for a peak oil shortfall elsewhere is estimated to take twice as much oil as satisfying growth demand in China and developing nations, which is generally considered to be the major driver of growth in the future.

Additionally, al-Husseini expressed the view that the recent surge in oil prices reflects the underlying reality that global demand has met supply, and is not due to artificial market distortions.

While most of the leaked Wikileaks documents dealing with climate and energy have revealed only routine diplomatic work and lack any actual shock value (who is surprised that President Obama’s diplomats would try to get oil exporters to agree to sign on to Copenhagen?) this one is actually a surprise to me.

The diplomat forwarding the intelligence to the Bush administration urges that al-Husseini – the former board member of Aramco – should not be dismissed as merely another “doomsday theorist” in the “peak oil camp” but that “his pedigree, experience and outlook demand that his predictions be thoughtfully considered”.l

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5 thoughts on “Replacing Depleting Oil Will Shortly Outpace Fresh Demand”

  1. Relik, that sounds a bit like a scare tactic.

    Climate change has as much capacity to create war since continued natural resource depletion will cause more stress between people; if we insist on perpetuating our dependence on oil instead of making the shift away from it, we’re literally baking ourselves. And that’s just stupid.

    Why waste money and talent on developing oil shale (b/c there will be a long testing period before realizing oil shale as a legitimate fuel source) when you can spend that money on developing a resource that isn’t going to a) contribute to climate change b)that is renewable and clean and c) that isn’t going to jeopardize a culturally, ecologically, historically, and socially important region of your tiny country?

    I understand the need to diversify our energy portfolio, but the methods used to exploit oil shale are not properly established. If it’s not good enough for Colorado, it’s not good enough for Israel. I say, why not wait until Colorado gets it worked out and then, maybe then, consider exporting the proven technology to Israel, where the stakes are so much higher.

    I am looking forward to seeing your paper.

  2. Relik says:

    Dear Tafline. Oil shale can bridge the gap to new energy resources – high oil prices are spelling war – and I don’t think you are condoning this.
    BTW – we will have an extensive environmental paper on IN-SITU oil shale in English soon and would happily send it to you.

  3. No. Oil shale won’t help; that is short-term thinking because all fossil fuels run out eventually.

  4. yuval says:

    may be oil shale will help

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