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Oil Majors Differ on Same Reserve

Reuters. The oil and gas reserves controversy sparked by Royal Dutch/Shell’s shock January downgrade took a new turn on Tuesday as two of Shell’s partners in a Norwegian gas field differed over reserves bookings.

In its filing, Britain’s BP reaffirmed its bookings for the Ormen Lange gas field, Norway’s biggest offshore development. However, Norwegian company Norsk Hydro cut its bookings for the same field by about a third. Ormen Lange was the focus of one of Shell’s well-publicized reserve cuts this year.

Resolving this is going to require a more rigorous set of definitions from the SEC on what can be considered a bookable reserve. It continues to highlight the uncertainty around reserve numbers which then ultimately end up being the basis for policy decisions. (In other words, it makes a big difference if production peaks in 5 years or 50.)

It’s a bit like trying to avoid hitting a mountain in an airplane when the altimeter readings are open to interpretation. You may be lucky and get it right -- but you may not.


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