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IEA WEO 2008 – Fuzzy Focus on Saudi Arabia

JoulesBurn, The Oil Drum
Given the central role Saudi Arabia will play in the world’s energy future, the continued fuzziness regarding its oil prospects is cause for concern.

According to the IEA 2008 World Energy Outlook, Saudi Arabia will remain the world’s largest producer through at least 2030 as its output climbs from 10.2 mb/d (million barrels per day) in 2007 to 14.4 mb/d in 2015 and 15.6 mb/d in 2030. The future totals include Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) production as well as additions from enhanced oil recovery efforts (EOR).

The 2008 WEO represents a step forward in that projections are purportedly based on a bottoms-up querying of a database containing reserves and past-production information for 800 of the world’s largest oilfields, rather than just being extrapolated to what future demand will require.

However, the results obtained from such a data mining effort are limited not only by the quality of the data therein, but also by the assumptions made when querying the database.

A close look at the data and projections for Saudi Arabia in the WEO reveals a rather spotty effort, providing neither a clear picture of what is happening in this important region nor much confidence that the overall report for the world is accurate.
(18 November 2008)

Robert Hirsch suggests ‘keeping relatively quiet’ in near-term about peak oil

Joseph Romm, Gristmill
Peak-a-boo, I don’t see you?

The WSJ blog reprints an incredibly dumb “You can’t handle the truth!” memo from uber-peaker Robert Hirsch.

Yes, the author of the seminal 2005 study [PDF] funded by the Bush Energy Department on “Peaking of World Oil Production” has written a memo “To The Peak Oil Community,” recommending that group “minimize its effort to awaken the world to the near-term dangers of world oil supply.”

Well, I’m not on that distribution list, so instead of endorsing Hirsch’s inanity, I’ll endorse his original conclusion:

The world has never faced a problem like this. Without massive mitigation more than a decade before the fact, the problem will be pervasive and will not be temporary. Previous energy transitions (wood to coal and coal to oil) were gradual and evolutionary; oil peaking will be abrupt and revolutionary.

So why is a guy with such foresight now urging temporary blindness? Read his dopey memo and see if you can figure it out: …

(17 November 2008)
Big Gav has this response:
As Joe notes, this is an odd change of tack for someone who has done exactly that for years. Personally I think the whole fear thing can be useful for grabbing a little attention – sometimes – but on the whole is counterproductive and has been for years. So I’d actually agree that it would be nice for the hard-core doomers to tone it down a little and spend a bit more time focusing on solutions – however “quiet down” is an instruction everyone should ignore, no matter who is making the request.

Pirates seize oil tanker off East Africa coast
(security issues)
Borzou Daragahi and Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times
… The raid did little to roil the depressed oil market, but it did raise major security concerns.

… Security specialists are concerned that pirates might someday seize a tanker carrying pressurized liquefied natural gas, or LNG, then blow it up or sell it to terrorists.

“If it was an LNG tanker seized, we’re looking at something potentially catastrophic,” said Candyce Kelshall, a specialist in maritime energy security at Blue Water Defence, a Trinidad-based firm that provides training to governments and companies combating piracy. “An LNG tanker going up is like 50 Hiroshimas.”

Mullen said he was not surprised that pirates were able to capture such a massive vessel, because they are often so lightly manned.

The Sirius Star’s crew of 25, consisting of citizens of Britain, Poland, Croatia, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines, was actually double the size of that manning some supertankers.

Shipping firms under pressure to maximize profits often staff the huge high-tech tankers with as few as 12 sailors. They frequently get around maritime regulations by designating the cook as the security officer after a brief training course, security specialist Kelshall said.
(18 November 2008)