PCT press release on IEA over-estimation of oil reserves

After the Guardian reported on a whistleblower’s claim that the IEA was over-estimating the world’s oil reserves (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/09/peak-oil-international-energy-agency), Post Carbon Toronto issued the following press release.

Oil Supplies Uncertain

Post Carbon Toronto Echos National Farmers Union’s Call for an Inquiry into Fossil Fuel Supply

Toronto, ON –– November 18, 2009 ––

An unusual situation at the International Energy Agency (IEA), revealed by the Guardian newspaper in the U.K. last week, calls into question the data that many nations around the world – including Canada – rely on for long term energy planning.

The front page Guardian story from November 9 quotes an unnamed whistleblower – described as a senior official from inside the IEA – saying that this year’s World Energy Outlook on oil demand and supply deliberately underplays a looming shortage. The official “claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves,” according to the Guardian. The Guardian continued to follow the issue with six more stories in the past nine days.

Post Carbon Toronto, a citizen’s group formed in 2004 to focus attention on the issue of energy decline in Canada, has followed and analysed IEA reports in the past. Reports from several years back described a rosy future for oil supply; in 2005 they predicted oil supplies could rise as high as 120 million barrels per day by 2030. But more recent forecasts have revised this number downward again and again, to a figure of 105 million barrels per day last year. The IEA insider says even this number is too high, believing that it would be impossible for the world to maintain oil supplies even at 90 to 95 million barrels per day.

This week, the Post Carbon Toronto executive voted unanimously to support a call from the National Farmer’s Union for a Canadian inquiry into fossil fuel supply. The unity of an organization serving rural farmers and a group of urban dwellers from Canada’s largest city underscores the broad threat posed by worldwide oil production decline.

The revelations by an IEA insider are only the latest information calling into question the integrity of the world’s supposed leading authority of petroleum reserves.

Christophe de Margerie, the Chief Executive Officer of Total (the world’s fourth- largest oil and gas company) as early as 2007 stated that the IEA was overly optimistic. In an August 2009 interview he stated “The world will never be able to produce more than 89 million barrels per day of oil.” And for the future, in September 2009 he said “We are running the risk of another oil crisis when demand outstrips supply around 2014 or 2015. There won’t be enough oil and gas by the middle of the next decade.” Jeroen van de Veer, CEO of Shell, agrees having said in January 2008 “Shell estimates that after 2015 supplies of easy-to-access oil and gas will no longer keep up with demand.” Even Fatih Birol, Chief Economist of the IEA, said in August 2009 – “I’m not very optimistic about governments being aware of the difficulties we may face in the oil supply.”

Other governments are not ignoring this issue. The British government has an all-party parliamentary group on peak oil and gas.

Post Carbon Toronto representatives have appeared on national television and radio; before a parliamentary committee; met with individual members of parliament; and organized dozens of meetings to raise public awareness of this issue. But the seriousness of the situation demands a full inquiry by the federal government.

For more information, please contact:

Paul Trueman, Chair, Post Carbon Toronto
Randy Park, Past Chair, Post Carbon Toronto


About Post Carbon Toronto

Post Carbon Toronto is a group of Toronto citizens working together to envision and transition Toronto and its bioregion into sustainable, low energy communities. The common thread that binds us is the search for sustainable solutions to the severe social and economic repercussions arising from the geological and ecological limits to fossil fuel energy consumption and emissions. There is an urgent need to raise awareness, begin transition, and support alternatives to current high-energy modes of living.

Visit www.postcarbontoronto.com for articles and background information.

1 comment to PCT press release on IEA over-estimation of oil reserves

  • Hello PostCarbonToronto,

    I’m a final year student doing a dissertation on the over estimations of future oil supplies in regards to international relations, are you able to point me in the direction of the sources used to write this article. I really need sources to confirm many organisations are over estimating reserves and projections, with this I will be able to assemble a strong argument for peak oil.

    Thank you for your time,