Edited point 6 to read…
6. Why doesn’t the USGS see this?
Given these statements, why are the USGS so misguided?
Peer-reviewed work from the University of Reading by Bentley et al suggest the USGS and other agencies have been mislead by poor categories. Oil fields come in a variety of descriptions, from guessed at ‘resources’ to estimates of the economically recoverable ‘reserves’. As Bentley says:
Combining geological knowledge with proved plus probable (‘2P’) oil discovery data indicates that over 60 countries are now past their resource-limited peak of conventional oil production. The data show that the global peak of conventional oil production is close. Many analysts who rely only on proved (‘1P’) oil reserves data draw a very different conclusion. But proved oil reserves contain no information about the true size of discoveries, being variously under-reported, over-reported and not reported. Reliance on 1P data has led to a number of misconceptions, including the notion that past oil forecasts were incorrect, that oil reserves grow very significantly due to technology gain, and that the global supply of oil is ensured provided sufficient investment is forthcoming to ‘turn resources into reserves’. These misconceptions have been widely held, including within academia, governments, some oil companies, and organisations such as the IEA.
In addition to conventional oil, the world contains large quantities of non-conventional oil. Most current detailed models show that past the conventional oil peak the non-conventional oils are unlikely to come on-stream fast enough to offset conventional’s decline. To determine the extent of future oil supply constraints calculations are required to determine fundamental rate limits for the production of non-conventional oils, as well as oil from gas, coal and biomass, and of oil substitution. Such assessments will need to examine technological readiness and lead-times, as well as rate constraints on investment, pollution, and net-energy return.
The USGS advise the United States DOE and EIA, which in turn advises the US Government on energy matters. Even the OECD’s IEA, set up to advise Australia and all OECD countries on oil security, get their data from the USGS. It’s like one big daisy chain that, when the crisis hits, will let everyone in charge to pass the buck and say, “But I thought they knew”.