OPEC paper barrels


Opec believed to overstate oil reserves by 70%


TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Analysts at a New York-based research firm believe that the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (Opec’s) global oil reserve statements could be inflated by as much as 70%.

Global oil prices are expected to dramatically spike from the end of the decade as a result of depletion, and continue to dramatically rise into the future as a result of oil-producing countries being unable to replace reserves fast enough, research specialist Lux Research analysts told Mining Weekly Online on Thursday.

Oil, gas and mining analyst Rick Nariani said Opec’s stated reserves skyrocketed from 878-billion barrels to 1.2-trillion barrels throughout the 1980s and 1990s, without any new significant discoveries being made. With cumulative oil production of 449-billion, the true reserves for Opec could be as low as 428.94-billion, which would result in global price shocks by 2020.

He explained certain Opec members were deliberately increasing their stated oil reserves to flout Opec regulations, which allowed oil-producing countries to only produce oil at a rate calculated as a certain percentage of its total reserves. “We now know that the numbers are significantly inflated. The model we have built from available data shows that Opec reserve statements could be overstated by as much as 70%,” Nariani said.

Nariani, who is co-authoring a report, ‘The Race to Replace Reserves’, which is due for publication during the next couple of weeks, told Mining Weekly Online that the official figures did not add up. He said that given certain new discoveries of oil, such as in Venezuela and certain technological advances which allow for previously uneconomical known deposits to be exploited, many Opec countries continued to increase their oil reserves, without announcing any new discoveries, and, all that while producing significant amounts of oil.




Wikileaks Cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices

The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show….

However, Sadad al-Husseini, a geologist and former head of exploration at the Saudi oil monopoly Aramco, met the US consul general in Riyadh in November 2007 and told the US diplomat that Aramco’s 12.5m barrel-a-day capacity needed to keep a lid on prices could not be reached…..

Husseini said that at that point Aramco would not be able to stop the rise of global oil prices because the Saudi energy industry had overstated its recoverable reserves to spur foreign investment. He argued that Aramco had badly underestimated the time needed to bring new oil on tap.


US embassy cables: Saudi oil company oversold ability to increase production, embassy told


According to al-Husseini, the crux of the issue is twofold. First, it is possible that Saudi reserves are not as bountiful as sometimes described, and the timeline for their production not as unrestrained as Aramco and energy optimists would like to portray.



Graph from: PFC Energy’s Global Crude Oil and Natural Gas Liquids Supply Forecast, September 2004

updated with data from: http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?



“Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower”


Reserves are inflated by 300 Gb of “resources”

From: Sadad-Al-Husseini (ex-Saudi Aramco), presentation at the Oil &Money Conference in 2007, London, organised by Energy Intelligence http://www.energyintel.com/om/program.asp?year=2007

Oct 2004


IEA WEO 1998

“ Total OPEC official oil reserves increased by almost 300 billion barrels between 1985 and 1989. Following the fall in the oil price in 1986, OPEC’s oil production quotas became an important issue to its member governments. Since reserves were an important potential factor in determining quota allocations, every OPEC country had an incentive to increase its published reserve estimate. In the space of just four years, total OPEC oil reserves increased by 62%. Since then, OPEC’s total oil reserves have remained virtually unchanged year after year. ”