How much oil is left in the ground? No one knows precisely, but groups like the International Energy Agency are supposed to offer us a good estimate. Knowing how much oil is left helps set the price of the fuel and also determines how much public and political pressure there is for gasoline alternatives. So, it's kind of big news that a whistleblower says that the IEA has been "deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying." The unnamed "senior official" told the Guardian that the U.S. was a driving force behind clouding the situation.

The numbers work like this: this year, the IEA said that the world could produce 83 million barrels of oil, then raised that to 105 million. Supporters of the peak oil theory – the idea that the world has already produced at much oil in a year as it ever will and it's all downhill from here – called shenanigans. The whistleblower says that the IEA's 2030 predictions – once claimed to be 120 million barrels but was since downgraded to 105 million, "is much higher than can be justified and the IEA knows this. [...] Even 90m to 95m barrels a day would be impossible but there are fears that panic could spread on the financial markets if the figures were brought down further. And the Americans fear the end of oil supremacy because it would threaten their power over access to oil resources."

The reality of what's available underground is tremendously difficult to know – we've seen all sorts of estimates – but to hide whatever truth you do know from the public is worse than running out, don't you think?

[Source: Guardian]
Photo by johnny choura. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.

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