Future Reserves

Just going through some files on my hard drive, and I ran across the following story. Unfortunately, I don’t have the source. But it’s an interesting look at where projected future oil reserves are expected to come from. It also reinforces the difficulty that the international oil companies are going to have replacing their reserves – as most of the remaining reserves are in the hands of national oil companies.

Who Will Supply the World?


The continent has about 10 per cent of proven global oil reserves and 8 per cent of the world’s gas. The biggest oil producers are Nigeria, Algeria, Libya and Angola, which account for roughly three- quarters of Africa’s oil production. West Africa has become a focus for exploration and has attracted huge investment, such as BP’s dollars 900m deal with Tripoli. The US is expected to buy about 25 per cent of its oil from the area within the next 10 years, up from 15 per cent, which accounts partly for an increase in US military cooperation with African states. China is also securing exploration and drilling licences.

Saudi Arabia

The kingdom accounts for 19 per cent of world oil exports. Many analysts expect it to supply a quarter of the world’s added production over the next few years. And as the only producer with significant excess capacity, it has played a crucial role in alleviating temporary supply disruptions. The Saudis won’t say how much oil they are extracting from individual wells, or what reserves remain in individual oil fields. But the total amount that the kingdom produces has been declining, down a million barrels a day over the last two years. Giant oil reserves were discovered six years ago in the vast desert known as the Empty Quarter. According to estimates, the new fields could produce up to 2.2 million barrels a day for another 50 years.


Less than 10 per cent of its territory has so far been prospected for oil. Given adequate investment and technological modernisation, Iran could more than double its present production levels to eight million barrels a day, a capacity it had in the early 1970s when oil prices hovered around dollars 11 per barrel. In real purchasing power, today’s oil price is cheaper than it was then.


The discovery of new fields in Eastern Siberia could provide between two and three billion tons of oil. In the past two to three years the Natural Resources Ministry has offered a significant number of fields in tenders in Sakha Republic (Yakutia) and Irkutsk region.


In the next decade, PetroChina plans to increase its proven oil reserves to 100 million metric tons a year at its Daqing oilfield to meet rising energy demand.


Important new fields are being prospected all the time, most notably and recently in the Anbar province, where al-Qaeda forces have been making their strongest challenge. Iraq has the third largest oil reserves of any nation, and that’s if you take the lowest estimate of its reserves. Its oil is of purer quality, and nearer to the surface, than that of many of its rivals. Basra could be as rich as Kuwait in five years.


A huge offshore oil discovery could help Brazil join the ranks of the world’s major exporters, but full-scale extraction is unlikely until 2013 and will be very expensive. The “ultra-deep” Tupi field off the coast of Rio de Janeiro could hold eight billion barrels of recoverable light crude, and initial production should exceed 100,000 barrels daily.

Brazilian state oil company Petrobras will start pilot pumping in 2010 or 2011, but full production will take several more years. Getting the oil out will be an expensive and formidable challenge because the oil is so deep under the earth’s surface. The lag time before production means that any impact on world oil prices won’t come soon.

2 thoughts on “Future Reserves”

  1. OIl, oil everywhere, and not a drop to burn.
    The oil gods favor thug regimes, where democracy, voting, freedom of press, human rights are chimeras.
    No, I do not favor invasions, I am just calling it as it is.
    The doomsters are wrong on the world running out of oil. The are right about the world running thin on oil we can get our hands on.
    A fascinating epoch ahead: Declining demand from developed nations, but thug control of oil deposits. How does it play out?
    RR may have missed Kuwait, which is planning a huge expansion as well.

  2. Benny,
    You may want to consider the opposite cause and effect, something one might call the curse of resources. Consider Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran: when oil prices were low, all were showing signs of moving (slowly) toward democratic principles. Now that the oil money is flowing in, oppression is ruling supreme.

    Consider a nation with few, if any, resources: Japan. Somehow the Japanese figured out to be better than most at almost anything you can name. Peak Oil? What are the Japanese doing about it?

    And then we haven’t even looked at Africa, where somehow oil exports leaves the locals in poverty. Mr. President will be available on his cell phone while vacationing in the French Riviera.

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