“The Saudis have been lying about their oil reserves for a very long time.”

22 Apr 2012

In a 2010 interview on peak oil, Robert Hirsch brought up  something that should be common knowledge, but isn’t: The official reserves figures from Saudi Arabia (and other OPEC countries) are not believeable.

Here’s what Hirsch told journalist Matthieu Auzanneau:

… the Saudis have been lying about their oil reserves for a very long time…. Every year for over 15 years, they have been saying that they have 258, 262 billions barrels. That is not plausible.

Q: Why is it not?

Because they’re producing something like 3.5 billion barrels per year. That would mean that they’ve been finding roughly 3.5 billion barrels each year for 15 years. It’s statistically impossible.

You’re talking about finding something that is very elusive, and also the way discoveries take place is that you find the big fields first and then you find smaller ones.

So to say that you find exactly as much as you’re producing, is… the probability of that for two years may be 50, 60 %. The probability of that over 15 years is zero. It just cannot work that way.

Q: What about the other oil producing countries, according to you?

Well in OPEC they play games with each other on their official figures.

Look at Kuwait for instance. Back in the 80’s they went from 50 billion barrels of reserves up to a 100 billion barrels, and then they stayed on a 100 billion barrels. They’ve producing on a regular basis, and they are not finding much more oil.


books I've read on failure & grace

The World Without Us
The Last Oil Shock: A Survival Guide to the Imminent Extinction of Petroleum Man
A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster
Hell and High Water: Global Warming--the Solution and the Politics--and What We Should Do
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
The Tipping Point
Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time
The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization
Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail
The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300-1850
Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff
Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World

Mason's favorite books »