INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON OIL DEPLETION
Uppsala, Sweden, May 23-25, 2002
Organized by Uppsala University and ASPO, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil
A MIDDLE EAST VIEW OF THE GLOBAL OIL SITUATION
by A.M. Samsam Bakhtiari
Seen from a Middle Eastern perspective, the present global oil situation can be summarized within five major and inescapable trends:
- The world’s supergiant and giant oil fields are dying off;
- There are no more major frontier regions left to explore besides the earth’s poles;
- Production of non-conventional crude oil has been initiated at great costs — in
Venezuela’s Orinoco belt, Canada’s Athabasca tar sands and ultra-deep waters;
- Even OPEC’s oil production has its limits;
- No significant primary energy rival can take over from oil and gas in the medium term.
Adding up these five trends, one can envision a global oil crunch at the horizon — most probably within the present decade. Unfortunately, however, the general public will not heed such a rational vision. And, even if it did, it would be loath to respond to the implied threat. In its defense, it should be said that many actors are constantly and consistently reassuring it: the press (even parts of the specialized press), most politicians, some international institutions, a couple of the main oil companies and naturally OPEC.
But this can only last until petrol stations post ’empty,’ natural gas supplies are suddenly shunted and, eventually, the lights go off.