free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 232. INTERPRETING THE USGS STUDY

Thursday, February 09, 2006

232. INTERPRETING THE USGS STUDY

[Note from JD: Rembrandt Koppelaar is author of the World Oil Production & Peaking Outlook, the first bottom-up study of future oil production with an open methodology/ sources and no expensive price tag. He has kindly offered to contribute to POD from time to time. This is his first article.]

The problem with the world petroleum assessment of the USGS is not the study itself. As JD has noted "The USGS explicitly says that it is not making a forecast". The problem lies with the interpretation made by various institutes, of which the most problematic is the one by the International Energy Agency. They use the numbers of the USGS as the ultimate guideline to predicting a peak beyond 2030. Interestingly enough the IEA stopped copying the numbers directly in their World Energy Outlook 2005 as opposed to the WEO 2004:

World Energy Outlook 2004:

World Energy Outlook 2005:

The main change is that instead of using data as of 1 January 1996 from the World Petroleum Assessment 2000 by the USGS, they are probably citing up-to date numbers per December 2004. The numbers from the World Energy Outlook 2004 caused various institutes (which I will not call by name) in Holland to believe that we had only used 717 billion barrels up till end 2004, while this number was dated until end 1996. Who reads small letters below tables anyway? And there is even one governmental example who interpreted remaining ultimately recoverable resources as proven reserves. Talking about a misinterpretation…

Anyway what can we learn from the difference between 2004 and 2005 in respect to the USGS study? The total ultimately recoverable resources stayed the same, 3,345 billion barrels, while 331 billion barrels have been produced between 1996 and 2005. It's hard to tell what their real view is since these tables are not explained in detail. For instance in the WEO 2004 they are noting 939 billion barrels of undiscovered per January 1996 quoting the mean value from the USGS study. In the WEO 2005 they are noting 883 billion barrels of undiscovered, mainly outside of MENA (Middle-east North Africa), based upon the USGS study but no starting date is given. What amount of oil has been discovered according to the IEA in the period between 1996 and 2005? We cannot subtract 939 from 883 billion barrels since more oil was discovered in this period.

The biggest shift is observable in reserve growth, going from 730 billion barrels to 308 billion barrels while remaining reserves have increased. According to the "IEA/USGS mix", it's hard to tell what their real view is since these tables are not explained in detail. We could interpret the shift as a large amount of oil went from the reserve growth category to the remaining reserves category and the cumulative production category. But since no underlying method is given, this is quite speculative. It could also be that reserve growth was reassessed (below the table it says IEA analysis based on USGS).

The amount of reserve growth between 1995 and 2003 according to IHS energy amounted to a maximum of 190 billion barrels. If we take this rough number and subtract it from 730 billion barrels we get a number of 540 billion barrels of reserve growth remaining in 2005. This would mean a downgrade of reserve growth by the IEA of 232 billion barrels. That is a massive difference in figures from the IEA within one year, which I find disturbing. But since these tables are very vague, and nobody is pressing on answers from the IEA, we will not know what is behind them.
-- by Rembrandt Koppelaar

9 Comments:

At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 10:38:00 AM PST, Blogger nukeengineer said...

My question is "who the hell cares?" So we get a peak in 2015 instead of 2010. Or in 2020 or instead of 2025.

 
At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 2:14:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

Seriously NE, is that the best you can do? The date of the peak is really quite important, because it determines how serious the problem is.

 
At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 2:56:00 PM PST, Blogger Rembrandt said...

Nukeengineer, besides the date of peak being important, there is another tremendously more important issue.

The IEA is the agency that causes the halting of all the wonderful efficient energy technology being employed (at least in Europe). I'm not talking bullshit here, It is all over the World Energy Outlook (alternatives to oil won't play a serious role according to them and I think that is crap). The second point is that my goverment has a holy belief in the IEA and they are very naive about the effects of peak oil if we do nothing. This is partially because the highest level regarding energy is part of the IEA.....

My goal is to bring out the truth, and that will mean looking at the holes in the IEA numbers (if there are any and I think there are a lot). Besides that, what the IEA says is not transparant, just like Campbell's model is not transparant also.

I want a world that is better and more sustainable for as much people as possible. The direction that our world goes to is not important for me(technological, efficient or more local and simpler). Both are fine with me, as long as we can live better lives in peace.

That's why I care, and that's why I am fighting for it.

Well enough ranting for now, as you may have guess the "who the hell cares" attitude makes me pissed off.

 
At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 4:25:00 PM PST, Blogger LogicPanda said...

Wow, NE. In every single thread you earn my ire.
Let me spell it out for you, genius: the date of peak tells us how long we have to switch from oil to an alternative. Knowing the date of this gives us a timeline, and thus a strong piece of information for formulating said plans.
Your words show nothing but sheer ignorance. I loathe you.

On a lighter note: good posting Rembrandt.

 
At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 4:43:00 PM PST, Blogger JD said...

We cannot subtract 939 from 883 billion barrels since more oil was discovered in this period.

I don't understand what you mean here, Rembrandt. Can you explain more clearly?

For reference, I transcribed Campbell's discovery figures (from the "Growing Gap" graph), and Campbell gives a figure of about 90 Gb (regular conventional) discovered in the period from 1996 to 2005. IHS figures seem to be about 100Gb (liquids) for the same period. Oddly, neither Campbell, nor IHS, seems to have included Azadegan or Ferdows/Mound/Zagheh.

 
At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 7:22:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

I want a world that is better and more sustainable for as much people as possible. The direction that our world goes to is not important for me ... as long as we can live better lives in peace.

That is incredibly well said. I'm tired of people with agendas. We just need the truth.

 
At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 10:59:00 PM PST, Blogger Avo said...

Great to see you posting here, Rembrandt. I look forward to reading more of your insightful analysis.

Avo

 
At Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 11:36:00 PM PST, Blogger Freak said...

He is not an Engineer.

 
At Friday, February 10, 2006 at 4:48:00 AM PST, Blogger EnergySpin said...

@rembrandt
You are correct in saying:
"What amount of oil has been discovered according to the IEA in the period between 1996 and 2005? We cannot subtract 939 from 883 billion barrels since more oil was discovered in this period."
The proper way of handling this, is by using Bayes theorem to update the nice PDF (probability density function) of the undiscovered oil. If we had access to the datasets that were used to generate the USGS report in 2000, then we could do use probability theory to update P5/P50/P95 predictions ...
Or we could do what Sweden is going to do by 2020 :-)

 

Post a Comment

<< Home