#1 cleantech news, reviews, & analysis site in the world. Subscribe today. The future is now.

Fossil Fuels peak oil is here

Published on February 9th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan


WikiLeaks: Saudi’s Oil Reserves Overstated by Nearly 40%

February 9th, 2011 by  

confirmed, again

Well, this should really come as absolutely no surprise, Saudi Arabia’s got a lot less oil than its been saying. And what that means, of course, is that prices will keep on rising (perhaps more and more steeply) and we need to get moving towards some sort of alternative… hmm, cleantech?

The cables that have revealed this information were released to the Guardian. “The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom’s crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels – nearly 40%,” John Vidal of the Guardian reports.

While analysts believe that Saudi Arabia and its Opec cartel partners can pump more oil to lower prices for a short time if demand starts to get cut off from the recent oil price increases, this finding points to the long-term inability to keep oil prices low.

Whether we want to wake up to the fact or not, oil is running out.

According to the cables, peak oil could be hit as early as 2012. Which is, more or less, in line with what everyone informed on the matter has been saying, give or take a couple years.

One cable on the topic lays out what gives (why the overstated supply):

According to al-Husseini, the crux of the issue is twofold. First, it is possible that Saudi reserves are not as bountiful as sometimes described, and the timeline for their production not as unrestrained as Aramco and energy optimists would like to portray. In a December 1 presentation at an Aramco Drilling Symposium, Abdallah al-Saif, current Aramco Senior Vice President for Exploration and Production, reported that Aramco has 716 billion barrels (bbls) of total reserves, of which 51 percent are recoverable. He then offered the promising forecast – based on historical trends – that in 20 years, Aramco will have over 900 billion barrels of total reserves, and future technology will allow for 70 percent recovery.

Al-Husseini disagrees with this analysis, as he believes that Aramco’s reserves are overstated by as much as 300 billion bbls of “speculative resources.” He instead focuses on original proven reserves, oil that has already been produced or which is available for exploitation based on current technology. All parties estimate this amount to be approximately 360 billion bbls. In al-Husseini’s view, once 50 percent depletion of original proven reserves has been reached and the 180 billion bbls threshold crossed, a slow but steady output decline will ensue and no amount of effort will be able to stop it.

Really, given the rate at which oil companies were able to improve and pump oil out of the ground, it is no surprise they overestimated what they’d be able to do in the future. Of course, the future is long gone, and everyone knows we’re in a pickle now. (Well, maybe everyone but most of our members of Congress and the right wing media,… which, ironically, is owned in quite large part by a certain Saudi Kingpin.)

Related Stories:

1. Are Technological Solutions to Peak Oil Possible?
2. Peak Oil This Year, Leaked German Military Report Says

Image Credit: madaboutasia

Tags: , , , ,

About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • Nathan Green

    We need to move to a natural gas powered transportation system as soon as possible. Many corporate and government fleets already are. Natural gas is a third of the price of gasoline and it is cleaner than gasoline, diesel, or coal. We also have a 110 year supply in the US. Natural gas fueling stations are being built across the country right now.

  • Hi

    As you wrote, it should not surprise. We all knew that, but now that it is sure, it’s even more important. I guess the only way out is with electric cars.

    The main problem with them is the range, for that, we made a iPhone app that will help you find out if EVs are great for you. If you are interested, go to http://dottribes.com/iEV

    I only hope USA will not start another stupid war…

    Thank you


    • mds

      Yes, we will if we don’t begin changing over to EVs and E-REVs. If the range of a current EV is not enough for you then purchase an Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV) like the Volt or Karma. There will be several more available in the next two years and the price will be coming down with increasing scale of production. E-REVs are all-electric at freeway speeds for the first 40 or 50 miles, after that they are HEVs. You can use them as an EV for short commutes using just electricity. You can use them as an HEV if you need to drive across the country using only gasoline. Best of both worlds! An EV with no range anxiety!

      78% of USA drivers travel an average of less than 40 miles a day. If we all drove E-REVs then this would reduce our fuel use for light trucks and cars by over 78%. This would reduce our national oil use by 78% of 50% = 39%, well over a third.
      This will be a big step in the right direct and the huge scale of this will help drive battery technology to the point we no longer need oil for transport. …and it will foster the same throughout the rest of the world.
      …of course EVs will continue to gain market share for those who only need the short distance (<100) ability in a vehicle.
      If we have functioning brains it should be apparent we don't really need as much oil.

  • If this proves to be true the only option open to the US will be to buy oil from Iraq.

  • 500cid

    Aramco presenters never take into account that Canadian North, Alaska and Russian territories have a lot of untapped reserve. The presentation I was privy too, the presenter did not once answer any questions regarding these 3 places… I think they know the writing is on the wall, and that once those reserves are fully developed, the Saudis/OPEC will be power less.

    • Nabi

      Don’t depend on the Canadian oil–presently development is using more than what’s produced and the schemes are fraught with near impossible environmental and political issues. The tar sands scene is a house of cards–sustained not because it’s logical but because so many giants have been sucked into investment.

  • Pingback: Environmental, Global Warming, and Animal News – Planetsave.com: climate change and environmental news()

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention WikiLeaks: Saudi’s Oil Reserves Overstated by Nearly 40% – CleanTechnica: Cleantech innovation news and views -- Topsy.com()

  • This news didn’t surprise me as it has been floating around for a bit now. Good to see it come from another source with a some more in depth info.

    I thought it was pretty interesting to me too, that the Emirates are said to having a shortage of gold bars as buyers have been on the hunt.

  • Pingback: Peak Oil is a Comin’, WikiLeaks Confirms – EcoLocalizer()

Back to Top ↑