|Top 10 holders of oil reserves, according to the survey. Click to enlarge.|
The world is currently producing more oil annually than it is replacing with new reserves, according to a new survey of global liquids reserves published by Energy Intelligence, a data and information provider for the global energy industry.
In contrast to the gradual rise in global oil reserves that has been reported annually in most surveys based on public sources, the new assessment shows that the trend in worldwide liquids reserves is actually one of stagnation and modest decline.
The Petroleum Intelligence Weekly (PIW) Reserves Survey shows global oil reserves declining by almost 13 billion barrels, or 0.9%, over the last two years to 1.459 trillion bbl at the end of 2006 on a “proved plus probably basis.” Global oil reserves are liquid hydrocarbons, natural gas liquids, tar sands and crude oil, that are economically recoverable at current prices.
Other surveys of public data show a world total of proved reserves in the range of 1.2 trillion to 1.3 trillion bbl. The PIW survey uses a somewhat broader definition of reserves than the other surveys based on public sources and it applies that definition consistently and systematically across all countries, fully accounting for production declines and new additions.
The main reason for the poor performance in growing reserves is a lack of additions to reserves from new discoveries, which account for 20% or less of additions in the last few years. The high oil prices and sharply increased upstream spending budgets of most oil companies have not yet provided any significant improvement in global additions to reserves, but more time may be needed, according to the publisher.
For 2006, the big increases in reserves were led by Brazil and Kazakhstan. Among the top 20, only eight countries saw increases last year, while the rest were flat or in decline.
The PIW survey also confirms earlier suspicions about the overstatement of reserves by Kuwait and some other OPEC producers. At the same time, the survey also indicates that reserves in Russia and some other non-OPEC countries are much higher than is generally reported.
Energy Intelligence has been a core information provider for the global energy industry for more than 50 years, and publishes Petroleum Intelligence Weekly, The Oil Daily, Natural Gas Week, World Gas Intelligence and Energy Compass.