Kuwait's new oil minister, on the transparency of his country's oil reserve estimates: "This can no longer be hidden, as we go into a new year we need to start it with a new transparency as far as Kuwait's oil reserves are concerned, whether they be 100 billion barrels, 85 billion or 25 billion..." Okay, admittedly this was probably an off the cuff remark. But if the Kuwaiti Oil Minister is deliberately lowballing the bad news - 25 billion barrels in Kuwait would be just this side of doomsday - then we've got a lot more to worry about than even I thought.
Just to be clear what I'm scared about, Kuwait is just one of the countries who've vastly inflated their reserve estimates. Officially, Kuwait has 100 billion barrels in reserve. But nobody but stockbrokers believe that twaddle. If Kuwait's accurate accounting is closer to the 25 billion barrels the minister mentions, that has enormous implications for the entire Persian Gulf. A similar factor of 4 reduction in Saudi reserves would mean about 65 billion barrels under the control of the Saudi Aramco. Or, about 2 years worth of global demand.
Please, please, please let that have just been a slip of the tongue, Minister Kamel al-Harami.