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IEA Whistleblower Claims Agency Has Downplayed Looming Oil Shortage

Jeremy Hsu, Popular Science
A senior official at the International Energy Agency turned whistleblower just prior to the release of a major IEA report, and claimed that the international organization has downplayed a looming oil shortage to appease the U.S. and prevent panic buying.

The anonymous whistleblower apparently told his story to The Guardian on the eve of the new World Energy Outlook report that went public Tuesday. He alleged that the international watchdog has bowed to U.S. pressure to underplay the decline of existing oil fields and overplay the possibility of tapping new fields.

Outside economists and energy experts have already criticized a figure within the new report that states oil production can grow from 83 million barrels per day to 105 million barrels per day by 2030…
(11 Nov 2009)
Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg comments:
“this is surprising….in my experience popsci has been pro-tech, pro-growth in every instance. they’re the last ones I would expect to get on board PO”

“It’s Really Bad” – Oil Supplies Intentionally Overstated

Chris Martenson,
The Guardian published an explosive article today. If true, it means that governments have been intentionally overstating the amount of oil that we have and could pump out of the ground. The implications are enormous.

This confirms the evidence that I saw at ASPO that had been painstakingly developed by independent researchers. So we might want to incorporate this news into our personal and financial frameworks.

…If this is true, and if it needs to be confirmed, it means that all models of stocks and bonds that rely on long-term cash flow models are wrong. It means that our primary assumption of petroleum fueled growth is wrong.

It means that we are several decades late in responding. It means that we do not have time to slowly modify our fleet to carbon-fiber electric cars or any other fantasy technology.

It means that we’ve squandered (and continue to squander) our most valuable resource of them all – time.

I’ll be honest, I would feel completely differently if there was even a glimmer that anybody in DC had the slightest inkling of the seriousness of the situation, but they display no public awareness…
(9 Nov 2009)

Looming oil crunch played down: IEA whistleblower

CBC News
A whistleblower at the International Energy Agency has accused the organization of deliberately underplaying the seriousness of a looming oil shortage.

The whistleblower, identified by the Guardian newspaper in the U.K. only as a senior IEA employee, told the paper the world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit but that the agency has toned down its warning to avoid triggering panic buying.

A senior official with the International Energy Agency is accusing the group of downplaying a looming shortage of oil. (CBC)
The official claimed the agency is responding to U.S. pressure to downplay how fast existing oilfields are being depleted while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.

Both the unnamed current employee and a former staff member quoted by the Guardian raise concerns about the ability of the world to increase oil output. The IEA predicted in its latest report that demand will increase to 105 million barrels a day by 2030 and that the world’s energy resources are “adequate to meet the projected demand increase through to 2030 and well beyond.”

…One of them, Matt Simmons of Simmons & Co. International, told CBC News he agrees. Simmons is the author of Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, in which he argued that Middle East reserves have been overstated.

Simmons said it’s impossible for the world to meet expected demand, and once India and China return to normal growth rates they “will drain up every scrap of oil we’ll ever be able to produce.”

…The IEA’s prediction about natural gas, which represents two-thirds of the activity in Canada’s energy industry, also has potentially serious consequences. The agency expects new supplies of natural gas from previously untapped shale formations will create a glut that will extend until 2015.

However, Simmons dismisses the idea that shale gas will create a sustained glut as the “single biggest illusion in the industry in the last 40 years,” saying it overestimates by 20 to 25 years how long shale gas wells will be able to keep producing…
(10 Nov 2009)

Did the US pressure the IEA over oil supply forecasts?

Kate Mackenzie, Financial Times
Claims that the US has pressured the IEA to put a more optimistic spin on future oil supplies gained a huge amount of attention today. But just how likely a scenario is that?

Kevin Drum on Mother Jones wrote:

It’s almost certainly true that analysts within the IEA disagree with each other about long-term projections, and it’s also probably true that there are regional pressures of various kinds within the organization. That’s pretty normal for international groups.

The US is the most powerful of the IEA member countries. It is also the member that publishes the most comprehensive statistics on its own energy production and consumption. So of all the member countries who might lean on the IEA, the US would be in the best position to do so.

…The question is: why would it want to? If a crime has been committed, the suspect certainly seems to lack a motive.

Want to find out more? The IEA today decided to make its chapter on oil production, which was a special feature of last year’s report, available online for free today.
(10 Nov 2009)