A Comment by Thomas Seltmann

Until now, politicians, the media, and the public have been provided with information about energy issues almost exclusively by sources who, first and foremost, have their own benefit at heart. Many actually have an existential interest in veiling the explosiveness of the situation. For example:

  • The producers of fossil and atomic fuel, in their efforts to torpedo the vigorous search for alternatives;

  • Governments, in their desire to avoid having to take decisive measures and confess to dramatic policy errors.
  • The providers of established consumption technologies, in their striving to avoid the premature loss of their market share and power.

Systematic disinformation has led to the waste of valuable time, making it all the more important and urgent to present the true situation in unadulterated form, both foreseeable problems and durable solutions.

Transparency – to which the Energy Watch Group is unswervingly committed – will help sweep away the illusions and half truths and open people’s eyes to new opportunities. The numerous letters, e-mails, and calls we’ve received have articulated interest, approval, and enthusiasm in regard to our efforts.

In an extremely short period of time, we have succeeded in establishing a new, independent voice providing direct access to accurate data and facts about the energy supply – and have attracted significant attention and publicity. This bulletin presents our updated study about oil. In the coming months we will expand on what we have achieved and develop it further. We welcome all types of support in this endeavor because our project is not a one-way street; we seek to create a network of stakeholders.

Press conference on May 21st, 2008 in Berlin:
“The era of cheaply available oil is past”

The attentive, SRO audience (with some of the knowledgehungry guests even sitting on the floor!) stretches the seminar room of the German Federal Press Conference building to its limits.

Based on the study “The Future of the Worldwide Oil Supply”, Dr. Werner Zittel substantiates the fact that speculation is not the main cause of high oil prices. Unlike previous decades, since 2006 it has not been possible to raise worldwide oil production. Despite previous claims to the contrary, a drop in annual production must be reckoned with – by perhaps as much as 50% of current figures in 2030. How much of it will still be available on the free market is also questionable because “the exporting countries will meet their own economic needs first”, according to Zittel.

Dr. Aribert Peters, chairperson of the Organization of Energy Consumers, states that the oil shortage has had direct effects on the price. According to economic theory, based on the Energy Watch Group’s data, the oil price could climb “around 30% annually”.

Assessing worldwide oil reserves

The current developments on the global oil markets confirm the core message of the study presented by the experts of the Energy Watch Group, a comprehensive analysis of empirical data regarding worldwide oil production. A temporary drop in prices changes nothing: The hope that the ostensible speculation bubble will burst is futile.

It is highly probable that worldwide oil production has already reached its apex and will continue to fall back. “Peak Oil” is now. By the year 2030, worldwide oil production could even drop to fifty percent of current levels.

The Energy Watch Group’s analysis has basically been confirmed by other institutions and by the ongoing change of opinion at the International Energy Agency IEA, the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources. In unambiguous terms, the heads of almost all oil companies – and even OPEC insiders – question whether production capacities can still be raised appreciably.

But the situation is no surprise: the fairy tale of neverending oil supplies has been propagated far too long. The geologists already recognized the high point of new oil finds in the sixties, and the residual reserves have been sinking since the eighties.

Since 1986 less oil has been discovered than the amount pumped. Indeed, new technologies have made it possible to extract more oil from the known fields even faster.

However, there have been no major new finds for decades, and none are to be expected. Even the exploitation of ecologically and technologically problematic deposits like those in the Arctic or the Canadian oil sands will not be able to stop the downward trend.

Even the repeatedly called for increases in exploration and production investments cannot reverse the trend toward higher prices. On the contrary: If the amounts produced sink in spite of increasing expenditures, the costs will also increase. The age of cheap, easy-to-get oil is gone forever.