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Oxford report: World oil reserves at tipping point

March 23, 2010

Full Article at: http://energybulletin.net/node/52093

The Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (Oxford University) has today published a paper stating that capacity to meet projected future oil demand is at a tipping point and that we need to accelerate the development of alternative energy fuel resources in order to ensure energy security and reduce emissions.

The Status of Conventional Oil Reserves – Hype or Cause for Concern? published in the journal Energy Policy concludes that the age of cheap oil has now ended as demand starts to outstrip supply as we head towards the middle of the decade. The report also suggests that the current oil reserve estimates should be downgraded from between 1150-1350 billion barrels to between 850-900 billion barrels, based on recent research. But how can potential oil shortages be mitigated?

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The Smith School paper also highlights that in the past, political and financial objectives have led to misreporting of oil reserves, which has led to contradictory estimates of oil reserve data available in the public domain.

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The report also raises the worrying issue that additional demand for oil could be met by non-conventional methods, such as the extraction of oil from Canada’s tar sands. However, these methods have a far higher carbon output than conventional drilling, and have been described as having a double impact on emissions owing to the emissions produced during extraction as well as during usage.

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The world’s oil reserves have been exaggerated by up to a third, according to Sir David King, the Government’s former chief scientist, who has warned of shortages and price spikes within years.

The scientist and researchers from Oxford University argue that official figures are inflated because member countries of the oil cartel, OPEC, over-reported reserves in the 1980s when competing for global market share.

Their new research argues that estimates of conventional reserves should be downgraded from 1,150bn to 1,350bn barrels to between 850bn and 900bn barrels and claims that demand may outstrip supply as early as 2014. The researchers claim it is an open secret that OPEC is likely to have inflated its reserves, but that the International Energy Agency (IEA), BP, the Energy Information Administration and World Oil do not take this into account in their statistics. …

Full Article at: http://energybulletin.net/node/52093

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