Thinking The Unthinkable
"My father rode a camel; I drive a car; my son flies a jet; his son will ride a camel." -Saudi saying
Carl Jung, one of the fathers of psychology, famously remarked that "people cannot stand too much reality.” And one such reality is that we have to bid good bye to oil one day. Its not a question of what or if, but just a question of when. And the thing is we don't have to run out of oil to start having severe problems with industrial civilization and its dependent systems. We only have to slip over the all-time production peak and begin a slide down the arc of steady depletion. In other words, we won't have to run completely out of oil to be rudely awakened. The panic starts once the world needs more oil than it gets. The key event in the Petroleum Era is not when the oil runs out, but when oil production peaks. Just like they thought that the Titanic was unsinkable. The upcoming end of cheap oil seems to have surprised markets. The exponential increase in demand for fossil fuels seems to have come as an unpleasant surprise. The alternative sources of power: solar, wind, nuclear, tidal, etc. are not as energy dense, portable, or as readily usable as fossil fuels. History tells us that complete development of new energy sources (coal and oil in the past) takes a long time, at least about half a century. The peak in fossil energy extraction will expose the fallacy of limitless growth.
Six Basic Indisputable Facts About Petrol
-There is a finite and limited reserve of oil in this world.
-End of oil is not a question of ‘what’ or ‘if’ but just a question of ‘when’.
-There is great concern in political circles about continuity of oil supply.
-No alternative energy source comes even close to the convenience and economics of petrol and no major breakthroughs are in sight.
-Our lives are increasingly dependent of abundant and cheap supply of oil.
-Time to be conscious of these facts, leave aside acting on this, is now!
The Wolf Finally Arrives
The First Ever Acceptance Of The Upcoming Crisis By The Oil Industry
Here we reproduce a press report dated 22nd July, 2007.
Oil And Gas May Run Short By 2015
By Geoffrey Lea
The Independent, 22July, 2007
Humanity is approaching an unprecedented crisis when not enough oil and gas will be produced to keep industrial civilisation running, the world’s top oilmen warned last week.
The warning – which is being hailed as a “tipping point” on both sides of the Atlantic – marks the first time that the industry has accepted that it may soon no longer be able to meet demand for its products. In Facing the Hard Truths about Energy, it gives authoritative support to concern about impending shortages, following a similar alert by the International Energy Agency less than two weeks ago.
The 420-page report, the most comprehensive study ever carried out into the industry, has been produced by the National Petroleum Council, a body of 175 authorities that reports to the US government. It includes the heads of the world’s big oil companies including ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Occidental Petroleum, Shell and BP.
It is also remarkable for the conversion of its chairman, Lee Raymond, the recently retired chief executive of ExxonMobil, who led opposition against action to tackle global warming, and became environmentalists’ most prominent bogeyman. The report argues for “an effective global framework” to manage emissions of carbon dioxide – “incorporating all major emitters” – and urges the US to cut the pollution that causes climate change.
The report concludes that “the global supply of oil and natural gas from the conventional sources ... is unlikely to meet ... growth in demand over the next 25 years”. It says that “many observers think that 80 per cent of existing oil production will need to be replaced by 2030” to keep up present supplies “in addition to volumes required to meet existing demand.” But, it adds, there are “accumulating risks to replacing current production and increasing supplies”.
Though vast amounts of oil and gas remain underground, “complex challenges” and “global uncertainties” are likely to put an end to “the sufficient, reliable and economic energy supplies upon which people depend”. And the crunch could come sooner, with oil production becoming “a significant challenge as early as 2015”. This chimes with the International Energy Agency’s prediction that oil supplies could become “extremely tight” in five years.
The predictions should send a shiver down humanity’s collective spine as a shortage of oil and gas has been predicted to cause industrial collapse, market crashes, resource wars and a rise in poverty. Some forecast that fascist regimes will rise out of the chaos.
Chris Skrebowski, editor of the Energy Institute’s Petroleum Review, said the report’s publication showed the industry “‘fessing up that it really has a problem on its hands”. Until now, he said, “companies, full of share options, have been terrified of frightening the markets” by revealing the truth.
The report says the fuel efficiency of cars should be increased “at the maximum rate possible” and there should be a crackdown on 4x4s. It calls for “aggressive energy efficiency standards for buildings, and measures to “set an effective cost for emitting carbon dioxide” to combat global warming.
© 2007 Independent News and Media Limited
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
Facing A Wall of Uncertainty
Shihab-Eldin, secretary-general of OPEC said recently, “When
we look at the future, we find ourselves facing a wall of uncertainty."
Oil is a finite resource, and there will come a day, inevitably, when we reach the highest amount of oil that can ever be pumped. Beyond that day - which we can think of as the topping point, or "peak oil" as it is often called - will lie a progressive overall decline in production. Putting the same question a different way, then, at the current prodigious global demand levels, where does oil's topping point lie?
This half-century of deepening oil dependency would be difficult to understand even if oil were known to be in endless supply. But what makes the depth of the current global addiction especially bewildering is that, for the entire time we have been sliding into the trap, we have known that oil is in fact in limited supply. At current rates of use, the global tank is going to run too low to fuel the growing demand sooner rather than later this century. This is not a controversial statement. It is just a question of when.
The scale of the addiction - and of the resource - is smaller. But the patterns are the same: growing demand for a finite resource, most of which has to be imported from the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. Even a temporary blip in supply is enough to create something close to panic among governments. It is oil that keeps our civilization functioning.
The world is running amok by gulping petroleum in an ever increasing way. America is not alone in her addiction and her dilemmas. Whole world is trying to follow in the footsteps of America. The motorways of Europe now extend from Clydeside to Calabria, Lisbon to Lithuania. Growing economies like India, China have joined the race.
PEAK OIL - The Beginning 0f The End 0f Oil
Peak oil means the end of cheap oil, and an end to economies
organized around the increasing availability of cheap oil. As first expressed in Hubbert peak theory, peak oil is the point or timeframe at which the maximum global petroleum production rate is reached. After this timeframe, the rate of production will by definition enter terminal decline. According to the Hubbert model, production will follow a roughly symmetrical bell-shaped curve.
The peak is the top of the curve, the halfway point of the world's all-time total endowment, meaning half the world's oil will be left. That seems like a lot of oil, and it is, but there's a big catch: It's the half that is much more difficult to extract, far more costly to get, of much poorer quality and located mostly in places which are politically instable. A substantial amount of it will never be extracted.
In the 1950s, a prominent geologist M.King Hubbert found that as the years went by, U.S. domestic oil production was decreasing, mainly because new discoveries became fewer and smaller. The changes in production could be plotted on a graph, forming the left side of that familiar shape known as a bell curve. Looking at the graph, Hubbert could see that the peak of American oil production would be about 1970; after that, there would be a permanent decline. When he announced this, most people laughed at him. But he was right: after 1970, U.S. oil never recovered.
That global oil output will eventually reach a peak and then decline is no longer a matter of debate; all major energy organizations have now embraced this view. What remains open for argument is precisely when this moment will arrive. Whatever the timing of this momentous event, it is apparent that the world faces a profound shift in the global availability of energy, as we move from a situation of relative abundance to one of relative scarcity.
Energy experts have long warned that global oil and gas supplies are not likely to be sufficiently expandable to meet anticipated demand. As far back as the mid-1990s, peak-oil theorists like Kenneth Deffeyes of Princeton University and Colin Campbell of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) insisted that the world was heading for a peak-oil moment and would soon face declining petroleum output. At first, most mainstream experts dismissed these claims as simplistic and erroneous, while government officials and representatives of the big oil companies derided them. Recently, however, a sea-change in elite opinion has been evident. First Matthew Simmons, the chairman of Simmons and Company International of Houston, America's leading energy-industry investment bank, and then David O'Reilly, CEO of Chevron, the country's second largest oil firm, broke ranks with their fellow oil magnates and embraced the peak-oil thesis. O'Reilly has been particularly outspoken, taking full-page ads in the New York Times and other papers to declare, "One thing is clear: the era of easy oil is over."
The exact moment of peak oil's arrival is not as important as the fact that world oil output will almost certainly fall short of global demand, given the fossil-fuel voraciousness of the older industrialized nations, especially the United States, and soaring demand from China, India, and other rapidly growing countries. The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) projects global oil demand to grow by 35% between 2004 and 2025 -- from 82 million to 111 million barrels per day.
Much of the world's easy-to-acquire petroleum has already been extracted and significant portions of what remains can only be found in places that present significant drilling challenges like the hurricane-prone Gulf of Mexico or the iceberg-infested waters of the North Atlantic -- or in perennially conflict-ridden and sabotage-vulnerable areas of Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East.
Compounding the global impact of America’s extreme vulnerability is the highly problematic fact that the very same geological circumstances that have caused U.S. production to be halved since 1970, from 10 to 5 million barrels a day, are very much the same set of circumstances that apply to the entire planet as an oil producer. Oil is finite, production will peak and then inexonerably decline. 33 out of the top 48 producing nations like the U.S. have passed their peak in terms of production.
Although we cannot hope to foresee all the ways such forces will affect the global human community, the primary vectors of the permanent energy crisis can be identified and charted. Three such vectors, in particular, demand attention: a slowing in the growth of energy supplies at a time of accelerating worldwide demand; rising political instability provoked by geopolitical competition for those supplies; and mounting environmental woes produced by our continuing addiction to oil, natural gas, and coal. Each of these would be cause enough for worry, but it is their intersection that we need to fear above all.
Major oil finds (of over 500m barrels) peaked in 1964. In 2000, there were 13 such discoveries, in 2001 six, in 2002 two and in 2003 none. Three major new projects will come onstream in 2007 and three in 2008. For the following years, none have yet been scheduled.
One of the surprises in the oil world in 2004 was the success of a documentary on the perilous state of world energy. "The End of Suburbia." It has sold more than a million DVDs and has been aired on TV networks around the world.
With a global oil crisis looming like the Doomsday Rock, why do so few political leaders seem to care? Many experts refuse to take the problem seriously because it "falls outside the mind-set of market economics." Thanks to the triumph of global capitalism, the free-market model now reigns almost everywhere. The trouble is, its principles "tend to break down when applied to natural resources like oil." The result is both potentially catastrophic and all too human. Our high priests - the market economists - are blind to a reality that in their cosmology cannot exist.
David Fleming writes in the British magazine Prospect (Nov. 2000), If you’re wondering why you never hear of peak oil from the oil companies and government, remember what happened in January 2004. Here is a BBC report:
Shell shares dive as proven oil reserves cut
Despite rising profits, investors have turned their back on Shell. Giant oil group Royal Dutch Shell has said it is trimming its figures for proven oil and gas reserves by 20%. Stunned investors promptly began a sell-off that knocked more than 7% off the Anglo-Dutch firm’s share price in both London and Amsterdam. Shell said it does not expect the reassessment to have any impact on its financial results, as 90% of the reserves involved remain undeveloped. But analysts were unconvinced. Shares in fellow oil firm BP also fell 2%.
Investors and oil analysts were startled, and puzzled, by the move.
“It was shocking, to say the least,” the Agence France Presse news agency quoted one oil analyst who did not wish to be named as saying. “They gave no detailed explanation why this has happened.”
“This reduces the value of the company by 10% using discounted cash flows,” said Richard Brackenhoff, an oil analyst for Kempen & Co.
Eventually, the chairman was forced to resign. Barely had the shares begun to rise than another reserve cut in March knocked them down again.
You can imagine the effects on the stock market if the oil companies admitted that oil was going to decline every year from now on and never recover. One day they will have to admit it but no company (or chairman) wants to be the first.
Of course now the perception is rapidly changing. Chevron, an oil major in the world, displays the following message on its homepage (WillYouJoinUs.com)
“Energy will be one of the defining issues of the century. One thing is clear: the era of easy oil is over. So let the discussion begin. How will we meet the energy needs of the entire world in this century and beyond?”
Using the known amount of available oil and the present rate of consumption, how long would it be before all that oil is used up?
This is known as the R/P ratio in the oil business. It may surprise you to know that in the BP Statistical Review for 2005 (using data from 2004), the length of time is 40.5 years. So, any person under the age of about thirty or forty would be likely to have to face a world without any oil.
‘Peak Oil’ Enters Mainstream Debate
A few years ago only a handful of geologists and academics were considering such a possibility. But now it appears even governments are taking a serious look at the subject.
The question is occupying more and more minds around the world. It could happen soon. A French government report on the global oil industry forecasts a possible peak in world production as early as 2013.
The report ‘The Oil Industry 2004’ takes a long look at future production and supply issues. But perhaps what is most interesting about this Economics, Industry & Finance Ministry report, is that it actually mentions Peak Oil and a possible production plateau.
Even one year ago it was unheard of to find the subject mentioned amongst government ministries or financial institutions. Now banks such as Goldman Sachs, Caisse D’Epargne/Ixis, Simmons International and the Bank of Montreal have all broached the subject.
No Escape From Scarcity
To make the energy picture grimmer, "spare" or "surge" capacity seems to be disappearing in the major oil-producing regions. At one time, key producers like Saudi Arabia retained an excess production capacity, allowing them to rapidly boost their output in times of potential energy crisis like the 1990-91 Gulf War. But Saudi Arabia, like the other big suppliers, is now producing at full tilt and so possesses zero capacity to increase output. In other words, any politically inspired (or sabotage related) cutoff in oil exports from countries like Russia or Iran will produce instant energy shock on a global scale and send oil prices soaring to, or through, that $200 a barrel barrier.
A chronic shortage of oil would be hard enough for the world community to cope with even if other sources of energy were in great supply. But this is not the case. Natural gas -- the world's second leading source of energy -- is also at risk of future shortages. While there are still major deposits of gas in Russia and Iran (potentially the world's number one and two suppliers) waiting to be tapped, obstacles to their exploitation loom large. The United States is doing everything it can to prevent Iran from exporting its gas (for example, by strong-arming India into abandoning a proposed gas pipeline from Iran), while Moscow has actively discouraged Europe from increasing its reliance on Russian gas through its recent cutoff of supplies to Ukraine and other worrisome actions.
Sleepwalking Into The Future
American natural-gas production is declining at five percent a year, despite frantic new drilling, and with the potential of much steeper declines ahead. Because of the oil crises of the 1970s, the nuclear-plant disasters at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and the acid-rain problem, the U.S. chose to make gas its first choice for electric-power generation. The result was that just about every power plant built after 1980 has to run on gas. Half the homes in America are heated with gas. To further complicate matters, gas isn't easy to import. In North America, it is distributed through a vast pipeline network. Gas imported from overseas would have to be compressed at minus-260 degrees Fahrenheit in pressurized tanker ships and unloaded (re-gasified) at special terminals, of which few exist in America. Moreover, the first attempts to site new terminals have met furious opposition because they are such ripe targets for terrorism.
We are entering a historical period of potentially great instability, turbulence and hardship. Obviously, geopolitical maneuvering around the world's richest energy regions has already led to war and promises more international military conflict.
During campaign 2000, Bush told his countrymen that he had an energy plan that would reduce gas prices at the pumps and here we sit 7 years later, with the highest prices in history.
The Middle East will inevitably burn. It is a matter of either slowly, gradually, or in one almighty fire. That could mean anything from $200-300 per barrel, depending on the nature and the speed of developments.
We have become so dependent on those fuels, that there is no way we can sustain ourselves at this level of technology without them. Even something as basic as food becomes impossible to produce, process and transport without fuel.
The biggest news story of modern times rarely appears in the conventional news media, or it appears only in distorted forms. Ironically, the modern world is plagued by a lack of serious information. Today’s news item is usually forgotten by tomorrow. The television viewer has the vague impression that something happened somewhere, but one could change channels all day without finding anything below the surface. But television is only the start of the enigma. What is most apparent is the larger problem that there is no leadership, no sense of organization, for dealing with peak-oil issues.
Politicians whose careers span an average of 5 years, clearly don’t see it as their problem. Let the next guy deal with it if he has to.
Although there is growing awareness of the problem, there is also widespread ignorance and denial, even by people who should know better.
Mankind has, it seems, an infinite capacity for denial but still the message is gradually sinking in: the term “Peak Oil” appears in the press with increasing frequency.
Number of producing oil wells is declining. Each year “World Oil Organization” produces a review of the previous years. In 1997 they had 918,896 producing oil wells world wide. This declined to 902,103 in 1998, and to 879,8888 in 1999. It recovered a bit in 2000 rising to 884,843. The trend is clearly downward.
Gulf of Mexico - Platform Removals to Exceed Platform Installations
When an oil field is found, an oil company will install a platform which will house the production equipment. At the end of the field's life, the platform must be removed. In all but one year over the past 50 years, more platforms have been installed than removed. But starting this year or next, the Gulf will enter a period in which more platforms are removed than are installed. The MMS (Minerals Management Service) predicts that over the next 25 years there will be an average of 142 installations per year and 186 removals per year.
The world has experienced severe energy crises before: the 1973-74 "oil shock" with its mile-long gas lines; the 1979-80 crisis following the fall of the Shah of Iran; the 2000-01 electricity blackouts in major cities among others. But the crisis taking shape today has a new look to it. First of all, it is likely to last for decades, not just months or a handful of years; second, it will engulf the entire planet, not just a few countries; and finally, it will do more than just cripple the global economy -- its political, military, and environmental effects will be equally severe.
We've embarked on the beginning of the last days of the age of oil,"
- Mike Bowlin, 1999, Chairman of ARCO and former Chairman of the Board of the American Petroleum Institute.
“You can produce motorcars to consume all the petroleum within the earth, and then you become no petrol. Then throw all these motorcars. Unless you find out some other energy. That you can do. You can make things topsy-turvied. But by your so-called scientific advancement, you cannot increase the supply.”
~ Srila Prabhupada (Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam, Los Angeles, September 19, 1972)
“We don't have to run out of oil to start having severe problems with industrial civilization and its dependent systems. We only have to slip over the all-time production peak and begin a slide down the arc of steady depletion.”
- James Howard Kunster
“Although there is growing awareness of the problem, there is also widespread ignorance and denial, even by people who should know better. Mankind has, it seems, an infinite capacity for denial.”
“At present the heavily industrialized United States, with only 5% of the world’s population, is using more than 40% of the world’s energy output. But how long can this situation last? To catch up to the United States, the rest of the world is racing to industrialize, but the world’s limited energy reserves make the end of the energy bonanza inevitable.”
~ Balavanta dasa
“I will work for energy policies that recognize oil won't last forever.”
“It took 500 million years to produce these hydrocarbon deposits and we are using them at a rate in excess of 1 million times their natural rate of production. On the time scale of centuries, we certainly cannot expect to continue using oil as freely and ubiquitously as we do today. Something is going to have to change.”
The oil crisis gets louder – listen to it, talk about it, prepare for it – it is out there, the tide is rising and rushing towards us.
Chevron, a major oil company in the world, its homepage (WillYouJoinUs) reads:
“Energy will be one of the defining issues of the century. One thing is clear: the era of easy oil is over. So let the discussion begin. How will we meet the energy needs of the entire world in this century and beyond?”
BP Says Global Oil Reserves Growth Stalled In 2004
By Tom Bergin, European Oil and Gas Correspondent
LONDON (Reuters) - Growth in the world's oil and gas reserves stalled last year, a report from oil giant BP showed on Tuesday, bucking a trend that has historically seen new discoveries more than match production.
The BP Statistical Review of World Energy, compiled from official government figures, will reinforce concerns about the ability of global oil supplies to match surging consumption, which grew 3.4 percent in 2004.
The world had 1,188.6 billion barrels of oil reserves at the end of 2004, compared to 1,188.3 billion at the end of 2003, BP, the world's second largest oil firm by market capitalisation, said.
The 0.02 percent growth rate was the lowest since 1990 and compares with a 10-year average above 1.5 percent per annum.
Last year's almost imperceptible rise in oil reserves came despite high prices, which normally help by encouraging new exploration and by making previously uneconomic resources commercial.
Gas fared only slightly better with reserves growing 0.18 percent, but this was the lowest growth rate in over 20 years, and well below the 10-year average of more than 2 percent each year.
The figures contrast with BP's view, regularly voiced by Chief Executive John Browne, that the world is not facing a supply crunch.
However, the data echoes the oil majors' own difficulties in finding oil. Last year, the biggest international firms replaced around 70 percent of the oil and gas they pumped with new finds, analysts said.
Even BP, one of the better explorers in the industry, failed to achieve the 100 percent reserve replacement ratio that shows a firm's resource base is not shrinking.
The report also points to another worrying trend for the oil majors. The gap between their anaemic reserve replacement ratio and an effective 100 percent ratio globally supports investors' fears that the biggest oil companies will lose market share.
Analysts have predicted that firms like BP and U.S. rival Exxon Mobil will become increasingly constrained in finding new exploration opportunities in the future because the biggest hydrocarbon reserves look set to be controlled by state-owned oil and gas companies in Russia, Venezuela and the Gulf states.
BP cautioned that pundits have been predicting the imminent depletion of reserves for a century and added that since different governments use different methodologies to calculate proved reserves, it is hard to draw inferences from its review, which is published annually.
“The world has never faced a problem like Peak Oil. Without massive mitigation more than a decade before the fact, the problem will be pervasive and will not be temporary. Previous energy transitions (wood to coal and coal to oil) were gradual and evolutionary; oil peaking will be abrupt and revolutionary”.
“This motorcar civilization will be finished within another hundred years. It has begun, say, for the last hundred years, and after a hundred years, when... The scientists say the petroleum will be finished within fifty years or like that, so, say hundred years, this motorcar will be finished.”
~Srila Prabhupada (Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam, Los Angeles, August 18, 1972)
Key Oil Figures Were Distorted By US Pressure, Says Whistleblower
Watchdog's Estimates of Reserves Inflated Says Top Official
By Terry Macalister
guardian.co.uk, Monday 9 November 2009 21.30 GMT
The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying.
The senior 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.
The allegations raise serious questions about the accuracy of the organisation's latest World Energy Outlook on oil demand and supply to be published tomorrow – which is used by the British and many other governments to help guide their wider energy and climate change policies.
'There's suspicion the IEA has been influenced by the US' Link to this audio
In particular they question the prediction in the last World Economic Outlook, believed to be repeated again this year, that oil production can be raised from its current level of 83m barrels a day to 105m barrels. External critics have frequently argued that this cannot be substantiated by firm evidence and say the world has already passed its peak in oil production.
Now the "peak oil" theory is gaining support at the heart of the global energy establishment. "The IEA in 2005 was predicting oil supplies could rise as high as 120m barrels a day by 2030 although it was forced to reduce this gradually to 116m and then 105m last year," said the IEA source, who was unwilling to be identified for fear of reprisals inside the industry. "The 120m figure always was nonsense but even today's number is much higher than can be justified and the IEA knows this.
"Many inside the organisation believe that maintaining oil supplies at even 90m to 95m barrels a day would be impossible but there are fears that panic could spread on the financial markets if the figures were brought down further. And the Americans fear the end of oil supremacy because it would threaten their power over access to oil resources," he added.
A second senior IEA source, who has now left but was also unwilling to give his name, said a key rule at the organisation was that it was "imperative not to anger the Americans" but the fact was that there was not as much oil in the world as had been admitted. "We have [already] entered the 'peak oil' zone. I think that the situation is really bad," he added.
The IEA acknowledges the importance of its own figures, boasting on its website: "The IEA governments and industry from all across the globe have come to rely on the World Energy Outlook to provide a consistent basis on which they can formulate policies and design business plans."
The British government, among others, always uses the IEA statistics rather than any of its own to argue that there is little threat to long-term oil supplies.
The IEA said tonight that peak oil critics had often wrongly questioned the accuracy of its figures. A spokesman said it was unable to comment ahead of the 2009 report being released tomorrow.
John Hemming, the MP who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on peak oil and gas, said the revelations confirmed his suspicions that the IEA underplayed how quickly the world was running out and this had profound implications for British government energy policy.
He said he had also been contacted by some IEA officials unhappy with its lack of independent scepticism over predictions. "Reliance on IEA reports has been used to justify claims that oil and gas supplies will not peak before 2030. It is clear now that this will not be the case and the IEA figures cannot be relied on," said Hemming.
"This all gives an importance to the Copenhagen [climate change] talks and an urgent need for the UK to move faster towards a more sustainable [lower carbon] economy if it is to avoid severe economic dislocation," he added.
The IEA was established in 1974 after the oil crisis in an attempt to try to safeguard energy supplies to the west. The World Energy Outlook is produced annually under the control of the IEA's chief economist, Fatih Birol, who has defended the projections from earlier outside attack. Peak oil critics have often questioned the IEA figures.
But now IEA sources who have contacted the Guardian say that Birol has increasingly been facing questions about the figures inside the organisation.
Matt Simmons, a respected oil industry expert, has long questioned the decline rates and oil statistics provided by Saudi Arabia on its own fields. He has raised questions about whether peak oil is much closer than many have accepted.
A report by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) last month said worldwide production of conventionally extracted oil could "peak" and go into terminal decline before 2020 – but that the government was not facing up to the risk. Steve Sorrell, chief author of the report, said forecasts suggesting oil production will not peak before 2030 were "at best optimistic and at worst implausible".
But as far back as 2004 there have been people making similar warnings. Colin Campbell, a former executive with Total of France told a conference: "If the real [oil reserve] figures were to come out there would be panic on the stock markets … in the end that would suit no one."