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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

 

IEA accused of masking peak oil


the guardian yesterday reported on a whistleblower asserting that the international energy agency has succumbed to pressure from the united states to misrepresent global oil production and recoverable reserves from new discoveries in an effort to cover up a global peak and decline in oil, broadly known as 'peak oil'. the motive was ostensibly to suppress oil prices.

edward harrison:

Conspiracy theorists will love this one! But, we don’t need a conspiracy theory to see that the end of cheap oil is upon us. To find high quality oil deposits (I am not talking about Oil Sands in Alberta here) is becoming more and more expensive. And one oil field after another is hitting peak. We have seen it in Mexico, Russia, the North Sea, the Alaskan North Slope and elsewhere. The only thing keeping us from realizing the peak is Saudi Arabia, the swing producer in OPEC.


british petroleum provides, via seeking alpha, this chart of oil prices back to 1861. in real terms the price of oil clearly has never been so expensive as recently. it's impossible to divorce the effects of financialization from the asset price, but i suspect it is also reflecting a new era of increasing scarcity. and this is not new news. industry opinion has been moving in this direction for years. we at the behest of vice president and halliburton CEO dick cheney invaded iraq and will remain there to secure oil reserves -- the 2003 invasion was very much another in a long-running series of global resource wars over oil. i'm sure it won't be the last as the US and other nations attempt to overcome the ramifications of the net oil export problem and reach for some sort of energy autarky amid the dearth of new discoveries. even the allegedly-optimistic reports of the IEA have been pointing toward slowing production.

but this revelation very definitely demonstrates that peak oil is a deep and growing concern in the front of the collective mind of the oil industry. if assessments are being tinkered with for political reasons, it is because there are real problems entrained with real consequences for oil-dependent societies -- and there is no more oil dependent society on this earth than the united states, whose entire infrastructure was constructed in the age of cheap oil, whose industrial farming model is predicated on cheap petroleum products.

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