Wednesday, November 12, 2008

IEO World Energy Outlook released

...and if they were honest, they'd have titled the thing "expletive deleted". But, being close to massive global energy companies has never done anybody's honesty any good. The Oil Drum has the basic rundown. As for how plausible the projections are, I'd commend to you this paragraph from TOD's analysis:
Under the reference scenario, production reaches 104 mb/d in 2030, requiring 64 mb/d of gross capacity additions –(six times the current capacity of Saudi Arabia) –to meet demand growth & counter decline. Historically, the 1960's was the decade with the largest capacity addition, with about 30 Mb/d added during that 10 year period. So, the IEA Reference Scenario assumes we need to do as well as the best decade ever over the next 22 years.
This is lunacy. All of the cheap, easy oil is either gone or going soon. Anybody who thinks we can do as well at increasing oil production as we did in the 1960s -- when we were doing things like bringing the Saudi and Kuwaiti super-giant fields in to full production -- is insane. Unfortunately, we seem to have a global energy market where insanity has a seat at the table.

The global economy needs massive amounts of new capacity to meet existing demand, given existing declines in the older, large fields we get most of our oil from. The IEA has in the past responded to this fact -- which they acknowledge -- by a bit of hand-waving and the assumption that supplies will be procured to meet demand. Today, they released a report which... basically did more of the same, but sounded really worried about it. Sure, they say the economy needs trillions of new dollars for energy investment. But they're still assuming massive amounts of undiscovered oil exist out there, quietly waiting for homo sapiens to liberate them from the deep. Don't believe me -- take a look:

That's from the WEO report, and you can see the slice that comprises "fields yet to be found". I also think that the "fields yet to be developed" should be taken with a huge dose of salt, but that's just me.

Bottom line is that the IEA is at least starting to ring the alarm bells on oil production -- though arguably about a decade too late to recognize the problem. It's also worth pointing out that the IEA (and the national-level agencies that it relies on) has a really poor record on estimates of oil production, always being proven too optimistic by reality.

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