Economists and politicians have been reassured that there is twice as much oil beneath the ground as humanity has used to date. However, international security expert Nafeez Ahmed argues that nearly half of the 1.7 trillion barrels of oil still to be recovered does not actually exist.
The discrepancy, reported in a new scientific analysis, arises from over-reporting of oil reserves to the tone of 435 billion barrels by several Middle Eastern states – whose OPEC production quotas are calculated as a percentage of their reserves – together with 440 billion barrels of Venezuelan tar sands that have been misreported as conventional crude oil. As Ahmed notes:
“The new study will place even more pressure on the oil industry with the confirmation from a former senior oil major executive that about half of global “proved” conventional reserves are not merely “stranded”, but do not even exist.”
Even the remaining 9 billion barrels is cause for concern on two grounds:
- The oil that remains is harder and more expensive than the oil we have used to date
- Global consumption of oil has risen exponentially, so the rate at which we will consume the remaining oil will be much quicker than the rate of consumption so far.
For Ahmed, the conclusion is clear – on the grounds of both energy shortage and climate change, the world must switch to renewables by 2030.