Global oil reserves data is muddled, but does it really matter? Fuel for Thought

Proved oil reserves, historically a proxy for geopolitical clout and energy security, may be losing their currency in a world set on ushering in the end of the fossil fuel era. The growing acceptance of the climate threat from carbon-rich energy is focusing minds on producing cleaner fuels rather than stockpiling sources of old, dirty ones. But despite growing industry qualms over peak demand and the potential for stranded assets, the issue of who controls the bulk of the world’s recoverable oil continues to pique interest. Two reports this month gave diverging assessments of who rules the global oil reserves roost and highlights the disconnect between reported oil wealth and the ability to pump the barrels. BP’s latest Statistical Review of World Energy, the touchstone energy data compendium in its 68th year, continues to support a view that there is no shortage of oil supplies to feed demand. The world’s remaining proved reserves of 1.73 trillion barrels can cover 50 years of current production rates, BP estimates. That’s little changed from a decade ago and is 35% higher than in 1980, when the oil major began counting. Over the same period, oil production has surged by 50%. Likewise, the rankings… continue reading

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