Dispute over IEA Rigging Oil Predictions for the U.S.
Nov. 9, 2009. The Guardian reports that key oil figures published by the International Energy Agency were distorted by pressure from the US. Unfortunately the two IEA experts making the charges are unwilling to give their names (even though one is retired) and present no evidence.
Others confirm that the IEA responds to US pressure, and that seems quite likely. But the question remains whether the US pressure is due to a legitimate difference of opinion (which is not to say the pressure is legitimate) or whether the US actually does not believe the line it is asking the IEA to adopt. That line says there is no imminent oil physical shortage, a the peak-oil exponents are wrong.
The IEA graph at the right shows conventional oil, which is the type that peak-oil aficionados track (blues + pink + black), continuing to rise slowly through 2030. Peak-oil predictions, as usual, say the peak has just occurred, or will soon. The first peak oil prediction occurred in about 1860, when oil was still collected from natural seeps, and such predictions have occurred quite regularly since. Nonetheless, one of them will someday be right.
What makes the current situation particularly confusing is that high oil prices and the great recession have cut oil demand sharply. Because of this, oil production did reach a peak about a year ago. On top of the demand reduction, we have OPEC curtailing supply to raise the price. In fact, this is the first time they have ever cooperated with each other -- in the past it was alway Saudi Arabia doing the dirty work, and the others cheated on the Saudis. Clearly OPEC would like us to believe that the decline in supply is due to natural shortages and not to their market manipulations. They also influence the IEA.
So, as usual with the oil business, the future remains murky. Though the one point seems clear. OPEC will make a killing. That will happen whether there is a natural shortage, or they are causing it.
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