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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/23/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Most outside observers believe that the 'official' reserves of OPEC members are way overstated

Since Oil touches nearly every single aspect of those in the industrialized world -- food, clothing, electronics, hygiene products and transportation would not exist without it - it would seem an important question as to how much oil, a finite resource is left. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC isn't saying, as it's one of their most highly guarded state secrets.

According to OPEC, 'more than 80 percent of the world's proven oil reserves are located in OPEC member countries, with the bulk of OPEC oil reserves in the Middle East, amounting to 65 percent of the OPEC total.'

According to OPEC, "more than 80 percent of the world's proven oil reserves are located in OPEC member countries, with the bulk of OPEC oil reserves in the Middle East, amounting to 65 percent of the OPEC total."

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/23/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Business & Economics

Keywords: OPEC. underreporting, oil reserves, finite supply


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Fossil fuels are roughly 84 per cent of what we use, and oil is 35 per cent of the world's primary consumption energy," David Hughes, a geoscientist who studied Canada's energy resources for nearly four decades says.

Without a prospectus as to how much is left, and how much time the world has before it runs out is a crucial question. Without which, the world's stock markets would be exposed to fossil fuels, which would pose a grave risk to investors facing down a so-called carbon bubble, which could potentially dwarf the housing bubble and current debt crisis.

OPEC, which currently has 12 member countries, established a quota system 25 years ago. The size of a country's oil production quota was based on the size of its reserves.

This caused most Gulf countries to announce that their reserves were much larger than previously, and other OPEC members followed suit, according to Tom Whipple, an energy expert and former CIA analyst. "Most outside observers believe that the 'official' reserves of OPEC members are way overstated," Whipple says.

"Remember the last increase was in response to the OPEC quota agreement which allowed members to sell oil in proportion to their reserves - the bigger your reserves, the bigger your quota.

"There have been many scandals over the years from people overstating reserves to make them look richer and more important than they are," added Whipple.

"The biggest fuss I can recall was in Kuwait about five years ago, when somebody leaked a secret government study that said Kuwait's reserves were less than half what they had been saying. After much fuss, the government made the whole issue even more secret and refused to answer further questions about the report."

Oil giant BP produces an annual statistical review containing a spreadsheet that has reported world oil reserves back to 1980.

"I've tracked that review for the world and for specific OPEC countries," Hughes says. "Six countries account for more than 80 per cent of OPEC oil; Saudi [Arabia], Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela, and all six of them jacked up their reserves by nearly 100 per cent between 1984 and 1988."

OPEC member countries include Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

According to Hughes, this occurred at roughly the same time these countries changed how they set their production quotas.

"Since then, using Saudi [Arabia] as an example, their reported reserves have been flat-lined since 1988, so they've not changed their reserves at all, but they produced 96 billion barrels of oil between 1980 and 2010."

Hughes and Whipple, along with other energy experts, believe several OPEC countries are intentionally under-reporting their reserves. It's a situation that will, sooner or later, lead to an economic crash.

According to OPEC, "more than 80 percent of the world's proven oil reserves are located in OPEC member countries, with the bulk of OPEC oil reserves in the Middle East, amounting to 65 percent of the OPEC total."

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