Ali al-Naimi...need I really say more?

Discuss. (and thanks to the many who sent this to us...) DuncanK says it all right here.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, will "soon" almost double its proven reserve base, adding 200 billion barrels to the current estimate of 264 billion, said the nation's oil minister, Ali al-Naimi.

    ...."There will be plenty of oil available to meet future demand," al-Naimi said today in Johannesburg. Prices are high now because "the petroleum industry faces infrastructure constraints and bottlenecks that are causing market volatility and restricting its ability to bring oil from the ground to the consumer."

Time history of claimed reserves for various OPEC countries. Data is from BP Statistical Energy Summary + al-Naimi's new claim.

So THAT'S where Baghdad Bob's been these days.... huh, who would've thunk it?
I wonder what revolutionary technical advance has caused their reserves, after being static at 260bbl since 1988, to suddenly increase in one jump by 200bbl? How can they get away with this garbage without being laughed out of court? The guy is a buffoon.

The question I'm wondering about is: what is the Saudi regime's exit plan? You can't tell whoppers about the most important commodity in the world on this scale for ever.

An Iranian friend of mine in the carpet business, who travels regularly to Iran and other ME countries to buy carpets wholesale, pounds the table with his hand when we discuss oil and other middle east problems, and warns me that you can never, ever trust what the Arabs say.  You need to do your own due diligence, which unfortunately, is impossible in regard to Suadi reserves.
How do you know they are telling whoppers Stuart? Where is your hard evidence? You're just asking rhetorical questions, not providing evidence.
There is no solid evidence, because the Saudi's are deliberately witholding the information. But I've added the time series of claimed OPEC reserves to Prof Goose's post at the top. If you want to bet your future on the idea that these are truthful statements by people carefully and scientifically making their best ongoing estimates of their reserves, be my guest. I can't imagine any way that hypothesis could explain those time series. The hypothesis of a bunch of liars trying to outbid each other for quota seems very consistent with the data. If they don't want to be called liars, they can damn well open up their records for audit. I think they are liars.
If they don't want to be called liars, they can damn well open up their records for audit. I think they are liars.

I don't like that logic wherever it appears.
For example, Stuart, I am beginning to wonder whether you might be engaging in some perverted activity in the privacy of your own home. Sure, you can deny it, but that's what all perverts do. If you don't want to be called a pervert, you can damn well let me install surveillance cameras in your home so I can monitor your activity 24-7. I think you're a pervert.

See how slick that works?

JD, is the world dependent on Stuart's perversion?  (lord knows I am, but is the rest of the world?)
It is true that the more important something is, and the more people are affected by it, the more transparency should be required.

I mean, should we know about the state of food production in the world? The state or drinking water? The pollution levels in the air, soil and water?

But sadly, even in these domains we don't have all the information...

the more transparency should be required

Required by who? Here's the question nobody is answering: What if the Saudis just say "No, we're not going to provide transparency. You're just going to have to trust us." What then? What's the "or else"?

that is exactly what they are doing... and may in all likelyhood keep doing. Leaving us A) without any hard data B) without any oil (unless of course you actually believe Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves).
As you live, so you judge.
That is a ridiculous analogy. Would open their records for audit (of the resource the world economy and is most dependent on!) violate their privacy? would that let us know what they do 24-7?. For the same reason you need transparency in the corporate world (would you buy stocks of a company that doesn't disclose it's accounting books?), you need it even more in the energy world.
Making an attempt at Peak Oil Education...

Where's the burden of proof fall here, JD? On those here at TOD or on Saudi Arabia? Who made the claim and therefore has got to make their case?

My condo is for sale. I suppose I could increase its value if I told you that I've done some exploratory drilling in my living room that reveals that I'm sitting on 0.5 bbo. Suppose you doubted that. Well, I guess the burden on proof would fall on me to show you that I wasn't telling a whopper, wouldn't it? Of course, I've got no history of oil production in my house but then again Saudi Arabia has published no documented evidence that they've got more oil reserves than they have recently said either. Both claims (oil in my living room and Saudi reserves) are subject to outside objective inspection and verification. I suspect both claims have exactly the same validity as well.
all you have is 0.5 bbo?  That's crap.  I have a "queen" sized field full of oil in my front yard.  

Y'all can have access to it if you keep me in power.

ca·nard  n.  1. An unfounded or false, deliberately misleading story.

With respect to my oil reserves, I am playing my cards ... close to my chest.
Where's the burden of proof fall here, JD?
Sorry Dave, I take the scientific approach. Nobody has conclusively proved anything either way about the Saudi reserves, so I remain an agnostic. Maybe they're lying, maybe they aren't. We don't have enough info to answer the question.
If you want to believe that the Saudis are lying, despite having zero evidence to back that up, be my guest. Just don't try to fraudulently pose as a scientist while doing so.
I think that's the safe position to take.

Without evidence one way or the other, the only thing we can do is create hypotheses.

One is that since the Saudi can't raise production to stabilize the market, they are upping their theorical reserves in the hope of reassuring people and calming things a bit. Kinda like saying: "Oh, you want something now? Don't worry, you'll have something good later. But for now, just trust us."

Maybe that's what's happening, maybe not. I really wish we had a way to find out, though.

Re: "so I remain an agnostic. Maybe they're lying, maybe they aren't..."

The scientific approach, OK. let's talk about that. I will spend some time on this since its important. Science involves radical claims sometimes (e.g. Plate Tectonics in the middle 20th c.) but such claims also require some initial evidence and empirical verification (via correct predictions - such claims are falsifiable). Here we get into an interesting situation. Suppose a crack (not Cocaine) team of petroleum geologists got to examine the Saudi data and fields. Suppose, based on their inspection, that it was plausible that their new reserve numbers were true. I think that would be the best we could do -- given the uncertainty -- and I would provisionally accept their claims pending empirical verification (actual production) down the line. The term "agnostic" would be beside the point, wouldn't it?

On the other hand, suppose I am told nothing and can not adjudge plausibility at all. Then I can say I have 0.5 bbo URR in my living room -- well, I won't reveal the real numbers -- and you're just gonna have to believe me or not, huh? I've got the stuff, wanna invest?
There is not zero evidence. There is excellent evidence, though not proof beyond all doubt (which we do not have the luxury to wait for). You quite clearly have not read Twilight and I suggest you do so carefully before further wasting our time. As I noted elsewhere, it documents exactly what the American companies who ran Saudi production believed when they left. There is no way to reconcile Mr al-Naimi's position with what they believed. He is essentially claiming that Saudi Arabia is going to recover more oil than the American engineers believed was in the reservoirs to begin with. Nobody has ever recovered that much oil. American oil companies may not be perfect, but they at least face serious consequences for fraudulently misrepresenting themselves to their investors. I'm inclined to believe them over Mr al-Naimi any day.
Well then, since you know from Twilight what the Saudi reserves are, why all the fuss about transparency? Why do you want to know what the reserves are if Matt Simmons already proved with his excellent evidence that there aren't any???
JD, agnosticism is not a scientific approach.  In the absense of evidence, a scientific approach requires that you are skeptical.

While it might be unscientific to claim the Saudi's are lying with only circumstantial evidence, holding a belief that they probably are would not be unscientific at all.  Occam's razor and all that.

To fail to hold the Saudi's up to skeptical challenge, in the absense of evidence to support their claim, would be utterly unscientific.


One of things I like about Matt Simmons are his calls for data to be made public.
Here is a case where we would all be very happy to see data supporting these claims.
Is it possible that real data will come out?
doubtful fringy...disclosure often occurs when it is in the actors' interest to do so.  I don't see any compelling reason for the Saudis to actually allow an audit...yet.  
I dont think anyone here is going to take much notice of these Sausi statements. If it where true they would be investing big time in new refineries and tankers. They are not. Judge what they are doing not what they are saying.
That is not quite correct, I think.  Millions are still taken in by the flat-earth economics fantasy construct (including people at the WEEKLY STANDARD, which I cited earlier today), and people like that probably will feel assured by Naimi.  It's all part of a smoke-and-mirrors campaign to keep as many uninformed people as possible as confused as possible for as long as possible.  The only thing I am not certain of is:  What are the Saudis aiming to gain from it?
Saudi Arabia is making huge investments in refineries. In fact, Aramco is probably the largest investor in refinery projects in the world today, with about $16 billion committed to ongoing projects:
16 billion is nothing, proves nothing. Even if they reached peak last year, 16 billion in refineries could be viewed as a wise investment... extract more value out of a declining resource pool while you can.

To put 16 billion in perspective, there are well over 100 billion in new oil sands projects in Alberta alone underway, right now, and tens of billions more on the drawing boards.

Drill down, pardon the pun, a little deeper: one simple, little project that will net in its first phase 110,000 bbl/day has a price tag of $6.8 billion CAD.

All that for a mere 110k bbl/day ... now tell me with a straight face that the Saudis can afford a simple, little, 16B$ refinery project, whether they have more oil, or less oil, than they said they had last year...

This could be about oil quality rather than quantity: Saudi Arabia has some spare capacity of sour, heavy crude, but that isn't what refineries want. So it has to build refineries of its own.
Clearly, we need to start a website to keep track of all this nonsense.

Sorry, repeated from another thread.
"In an age of spin, [al-Naimi] offers feeling and authenticity. His message is consistent -- unshakeable, in fact, no matter the evidence -- but he commands daily attention by his on-the-spot ... variations on the theme. His lunatic counterfactual art is more appealing than the banal awfulness of the Reliable Sources.... He stands superior to truth."

-- Jean-Pierre McGarrigle
Ahhh, I can see you are all in awe of this new revelation.  Obviously this site no longer serves a purpose and should be shut down.  By the way, I heard that the new reserves have been "proven" by a team with impeccable credentials -- headed by Peter Pan himself.

P.S.  Pinnochio was suppose to make the announcement of the new reserves but there were severe nose issues.

We may remember that Saddam Hussein had a notorious cousin, who earned the moniker "Chemical Ali," for using chemical weapons on civilians. Maybe the Saudi Oil Minister has earned the name, "Comical Ali."
You people have zero proof that Al Naimi's numbers are incorrect. The only support you have for your position is rhetorical questions, crappy jokes and smug backslapping.
Have you read Twilight in the Desert?
Twilight in the Desert is one big waffle. Don't believe me? Then cite the page(s) where Simmons proves the Saudi reserve numbers to be incorrect.
let's see...should I go into Type I and Type II errors here (and which type's worse...)?  nah.
You didn't answer my question. Have you actually read it? It's not "one big waffle", it's very large amounts of hard work. There is not one page or two that makes the key argument - instead it's a long argument that what people like Mr al-Naimi say is not consistent with the way Saudia Arabia behaves.

There is no "proof" when you are trying to estimate the situation under the ground in another country that appears to be being deliberately deceptive and won't give you access to their data. There is inference, there are judgement calls, there is evidence. "Proof" will only come when we have an audit, or when their production collapses. Since the future of civilization is at stake, we all have to make our best judgements in the meantime.

But Twilight in the Desert sure makes a pretty convincing case to me. When Mr al-Naimi says that much of the kingdom is unexplored, we can refer to Chapter 10, where Simmons discusses and references all the extensive exploration efforts described in Saudi Aramco technical papers suggesting that there is very little promising exploration left to do in Saudi Arabia.

When Mr al-Naimi says that there are 460 billion barrels of oil left, and knowing that they've produced 110 billion barrels, we can refer to Appendix C, where it is documented that when the American companies who owned Aramco left in 1979, they estimated original oil in place at 530 billion barrels. So Mr al-Naimi is now claiming we are going to have a 107.5% recovery rate of the oil in the ground based on the last estimate of OOIP by anyone who faced short term consequences for lying - there's been hardly any discovery of new fields since 1979. What is he proposing to do - strip mine his oil fields?

One would think that if Saudi could easily raise reserves another 200 billion barrels almost overnight, then they could easily have absorbed the demand to keep prices relatively stable over the past few years as well.  I think oil's price behaviour over the past few years is the best evidence that the Saudi situation is not what they claim.
Not really.  Oil in the ground is not the same as oil delivered to a refinery.

Consider this thought experiment: The Saudi claims are false, and the reserves of all conutries are essentially identical to what we thought they were before this news broke.  A band of terrorists manages to completely cripple the Saudi oil fields.  (How?  Doesn't matter--make up your own science fictional scenario.)  The price of oil would hit low earth orbit in hours.

We have a system that's a series of bottlenecks (and potential bottlenecks), like a half-dozen or a dozen valves one after the other in a pipe.  Currently, most of the valves are turned down far enough that we're getting just enough oil through to keep the markets from going nuts.  Suddenly discovering that there's way more oil that can eventually be pumped into the far end of the pipe doesn't improve the rate at which it can come out the near end.  The only way to do that is to have enough oil entering at the far end and to open up all the valves at least a little.

I'm skeptical about the Saudi claims, but I would love to be proved wrong.

Attempt # 2

Ahhh, man, I thought they were good jokes. Anyway, suppose I claim you are a Newt, which is
Any of several small, slender, often brightly colored salamanders of the European genus Triturus or the North American genera Notophthalmus and Taricha, living chiefly on land but becoming aquatic during the breeding season.
But you think you are not a Newt -- though it's looking like you are -- but anyway, is the burden of proof on me to show that you are indeed a Newt or on you to demonstrate to me that you're not?
Nobody actually knows anything.
Gosh I don't even know I exist and I'm not the creature of some sophisticated matrix.
Your scientific approach is really helpful, but science also postultes that anything that is not proven is not considered true. Do aliens exist? Possibly. But until it's proven they don't. In the grey area of what is unproven which commands out of science life you just express opinions and make bets.

I think we are all betting on that he is lying. And here is a simple reason: before the 70-s saudi oil and exploration was handled by american companies. If there were undiscovered fields of that scale the chances they were missed are 1 to zillion. And for the existing discoveries we have the official figures. So either way they are lying (at least with 99% confidence) - which bet would you take? On the previous lie or on the newer one?
At least my common sense tells me to disregard both.

In late 1960's-early 70's, the US lower 48 with roughly 100 billion barrels recoverable left in the bag was able to push its daily production limit to more than 11 million barrels per day, most of it of the light/sweet variety.  So Naimi want us to believe that they have 460 billion barrels recoverable left, but they are having difficulty putting any more than about 8 million barrels per day of light/sweet on the market?  Give me a break.  The oil ain't there...
Who says "light/sweet"=oil? The Saudis have plenty of oil of the heavy variety. In fact, the market can't absorb it:
The oil is there. You personally may want to pretend that heavy oil is not oil, but that's not going to stop China and others from refining and using it.
If there was truly an oversupply of heavy sour crude, it would be selling for $15/bl, not $50/bl. Any official Saudi information is not worth the paper it's printed on.
Any official Saudi information is not worth the paper it's printed on.

Is that an article of faith which you have to agree with in order to be a real peak oiler?

I don't agree with it. I think that "the Saudis do nothing but lie" is an emotional, extremist position which is not backed up by the facts.

JD, I find the circumstantial case that the Saudis are being disingenuous about the number and quality of their reserves much more compelling than the case that the Saudis have stumbled onto a ridiculous amount of oil reserves that they didn't know about.  Epiphanies are wonderful things, but they're usually only good for the person having it...

Even so, if those reserves are sour nasty crap oil that costs $150/bbl to refine (after refitting our refinery capacity to adapt to it, etc.), what the hell good does it do anyway?  

If the Saudis had the light sweet crude to do so, it would be rational of them to put it to market and make a ridiculous amount of money, not sit on it and wait for demand to be destroyed...wouldn't it?

As JDH has pointed out many times, if PO is correct, oil will just become increasingly expensive, light sweet even more so. It would seem to make a lot of sense to leave a lot of it in the ground until it is worth even more.

If SA stopped pumping the world would know and complain about the obvious strategy. However, if they did have more light sweet than they're admitting, and just not pumping out the sweet as quick as possible, that would be a nice increasing side stream.

However, the only way that this is really good long term advice is if one believes that oil is semi-easily replaceable once it becomes more expensive. And the result would only be feasible in a culture where one was very forward looking instead of trying to grab as much as possible as soon as possible. Most people alive today seem to belong in that crowd.

No. I have spent perhaps 80-100 hours studying this specific question and I have made my own mind up. I am pretty convinced they are lying. It does make me angry because their lies are endangering my children's future, by making it significantly less likely that the world will adapt in time. Anyone who endangers my children makes me angry.
It does seem like a bogus announcement. But it's also hard to believe the Saudi's would lie so blatantly.

To put it another way, what do the Saudi's gain by claiming to have a new, extra 200 bbl? (Not challenging. Just clueless and interested in the speculations of those better informed).

-john (WTHFDIK ... I believed Clinton)

The Saudi government would not exist without the military and financial support of the US.

Methinks they are acting on behest of their handlers in DC, spinning furiously that no oil crunch is looming.

$4 a gallon gas would be a political nightmare for Dubya.

My guess is that there are two motives here.

The first is that if they admit that the age of oil is ending, that they fear political instability.  Namely a revolution, coup or something else.

Secondly they fear demand destruction, and the search for alternative fuels.  This is probably secondary however.

Isn't that rather old news? I believe i read it already a couple of times that the saudis are claiming that their 260 bbl are actually very conservative estimates and their true reserves probably far higher.
They have decided to use 16 gallon barrels.
"Reserves" means economically producable oil. As the price rises, it is logical for reserves to increase. With oil at $65 it is no surprise that the Saudis have much greater reserves than a few years ago when it was $10.
To be precise, reserves mean "Ultimately Recoverable Reserves" (URR) which does not depend entirely on price but also on a scientific field called "Petroleum Geology". HO no doubt has something to say about this beyond what the well-informed dilettante Matt Simmons will tell you.

Doesn't it strike you that Al-Naimi's claim is more in the realm of a Biblical "revelation" than a reasonably established scientific estimate? Where's the data, the reports? Saudi engineers? C'mon, Halfin, you're not buying this are you?

Don't get me wrong: my love for the Saudi Oil Minister is steadfast -- though there does seems to be a psychological overcompensation problem due to the fact that OPEC is becoming more and more irrelevant to our current problems.
John pops into his local corner store....

John: Hello Ali, how are you today?

Ali: Ah John, my friend! How is your beautiful wife and lovely children this day?

John: Oh, good thanks, Ali.  But they want more bread.  My breadmaker's going flat out!

Ali: Ah, bread, yes, the food of life!

John: yes, but I need some more flour.  I used 10 bags yesterday!  Oh, I see you only have 9 bags on your shelf!

Ali: Yes, but I have many more lovely bags out the back.

John: Do you? Can I see them?

Ali: Oh no John, I cannot let just anybody see my great piles of flour!  Trust me, my back room is full to brimming with lovely white flour for you.

John: Really?

Ali: Yes, but you know what your problem is John? You only have one breadmaker!

John: But I can't afford to buy another one.

Ali: Ah but if you buy another breadmaker, tomorrow I will have 15 bags of lovely flour for you.

John: Oh.  Maybe I'll just go down to Miguel's and buy some of that wholemeal stuff and make a bio-loaf by hand.

Ali. Oh no, John! You must not be doing this!

John: Why?  It tastes much better and it's better for me.  It doesn't give me as much wind.

Ali: Ah, but think of your little Susan, isn't she allergic to that disgusting wholemeal stuff?  And little Johnny only likes the white bread, you know he won't eat that brown barbage.

John: I guess you're right, Ali.

Ali: Do yourself a favour John. Go and buy that extra breadmaker and I'll give you all the flour you want!

John. Oh well, I guess there were a few dollars left on one of credit cards....

bwhahahahaha...I might have to point to that from the front page.
John: But Ali, this packet of flour says "best before 1962"!
After extensive research archeologists deciphered the last words of the Ali al-Naimi's grand-grand-grand...grandfather:
- Stop talking this vegetarian bulshit! We will never run out of meat! I have 264 mammoths in my backyard and if I look harder I will find 200 more!
al naimi himself doesnt seem to know how much he's pumping now. naimi "saudi oil production" 11 OR 9.5 "million b/d" OR "million barrels"
Ali Ibrahim Naimi, Saudi Arabia's minister of petroleum and mineral resources, said at the conference that his country has undertaken a major oil-capacity expansion program aimed at increasing its production capacity to 12 million barrels per day by 2010 and to 15 million barrels per day by 2015 from the current 9.5 million.

we know he's been promising to boost production to 11 mbpd to calm oil prices for years now, but most everybody seems to think saudi's still stuck at 9.5 mbpd.

he's been making wild promises to deliver 12 or 15 mbpd, in the face of widespread speculation that saudi has already peaked in light sweet production, and has sour lying around that they cant sell because of limited refinery capability for heavy sour stuff.

and now, square in the face of emerging evidence of the worst damage ever to usa oil and natural gas production machinery, naimi supersizes his reserves....

...this amid already rampant speculation about usa govt manipulation of oil and gas markets to stave off panic....

then this, post-katrina, pre-rita:

The continuing strength of the oil price in the face of rising stocks of crude is a puzzle for oil analysts. Some believe that the shortage of refined products is dragging the crude price upwards. Others point to speculative hedge funds which are convinced that the world's energy market is making a shift towards a post-oil world.

Western refineries spurning sulphurous Saudi oil from the times uk

well, that'd kind of fit in with cheney's plan to convert to hydrogen, i guess.

what's a poor boy to think?

The chocolate ration has increased to 25 grams a day...
Always recommended from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Scene 5: Burn the witch!
Wow!  What heated discussions. Let me jump in

For those that make great claims beware the sophisticated methodological falsificationist (for which I am one).  Basically, unless there is some evidence of a grand claim that replaces a prior claim (270 to voila! - 470!), the prior known should not be replaced.  Please see this site and I highly recommend his work.

SJMS, isn't right here where I make a lakatos-intolerance joke?

(yeah, my students don't like it either.  they'd rather I make fun of Kuhn in another way...something about my protective belt and paradigm shifts...)

Well, at least the lakatos joke has an unfortunate vague relevance to gas. Call me naive, but it sounds like the party drugs are kicking in, and you guys are having more fun than I am. Can I borrow one of your poppers?
Well, Rick, we are talking about Ali Al-Naimi here... Whatever drugs he's on, I'd like to take them.... I have decided to raise the ultimately recoverable reserves (URR) I can get from exploratory drilling going on here in my condo living room from 0.5 bbo to 1.5 bbo -- based on a hunch. I do live in Colorado after all, there's oil here. I'm currently looking for investments... but maybe I'm just a wingnut ;) -- that's a private joke, sorry folks...

Have a good one living in New Zealand, I wish I was there....
Dave-I personally think that tripling your URR may be a bit much, though I have no proof of that, and therefore you must be right. I could even make a case that you're being conservative, since there are undoubtedly additional reserves yet to be discovered under your property.

New Zealand is a frontier with pretensions, and still figuring out its own identity. It's very new--no people at all (and no land mammals) until the Maori landed here in the middle ages. It's a little socialist hotbed, with government healthcare for all, heavily subsidized universities, and high taxes to pay for it all.

How will New Zealand do when oil peaks? Electricity is well placed, say 66% hyrdro and 9% geothermal, adamantly 0% nuclear. We had a great gas field, but used it up converting it to either methanol or gasoline, whichever was more profitable at the moment. We do have coal and trees, with low population density. The cities, especially Auckland, will be a mess. The country towns have a good shot. You should come and visit while the planes are still flying.

The evidence for the 160ish to 260 jump was equally ephemeral.

Some of you will enjoy George Monbiot's piece today.  He takes the truly agnostic position:  There simply is know way of knowing for sure how close to being right and truly fucked we are right now.  Because, and I know Dave has made this point before, NO ONE has even remotely acurate information on production, reserves, or consumption at the global level.   Some countries have better data than others, but reliable data for every country: nope, nada, nunca, fagettaboutit!  As far as I can tell, people are doing the best they can by reading the tea leaves they happen to have available to them at the moment. [OK maybe the info is better than tea leaves - but the info we have is still wide open to multiple interpretations ranging from wildly optimistic to wildly pessimistic]

Is the Saudi oil minister lying?  Who the hell knows...He may truly believe what he is saying...that doesn't make what he is saying true.  There a nice comment in the LA Times this morningabout how belief and science sometimes get in the way of eachother.

To make an informed decision, we need good information.  Some of us feel, that given what is out there right now, it is a pretty safe bet to be somewhat pessimistic in the medium term (15 years or so) to be sure.  Others are much more pessimistic than that (i.e., peak is now).  But, there is a better than good chance that we are wrong (well actually in the interest of disclosure I don't believe that; but my reading of other's posts here suggests that they do believe that, who I am to say they are wrong)

I'm no expert, but I'm of the understanding that Saudi Arabia has a very large segment of the population that is young and significantly unemployed.  They have no real diversity in their economy and should the pessimists like Matt Simmons be right about their current geological situation, I believe they have very significant reasons to try and convince the rest of the world that they are still relevant with regards to the only thing they have going for themselves...oil.

Prof. Goose, your a social scientist right?  What are your thoughts on this front.  I think JD's "agnosticism" comes with a pair of blinders, because the (mis)information coming from the Middle East is more complex than just oil reserves (though that issue drives many of these other ones).

The misallocation of wealth in that country makes it ripe for a major revolution if their citizens begin to believe their meal ticket is no better than Monopoly money.  Hell, with 15 of the 19 Sept. 11th hijackers coming from Saudi Arabia, maybe the revolution's already begun?

And besides!

What if old Ali is telling the truth??!!  We are still screwed in the long term.

We can no longer even entertain a modicum of skepticism regarding the human contribution to global warming via the ever increasing burning of fossil fuels.  If the Saudis do have another 200 bbl oil, so what??!!  We have to stop burning fossil fuels post haste!!!  Or should we just wait until global warming leads to the complete collapse  of the human monocultural econiche?  (If it is not already too late)

Seems to me, as far as policy considerations are concerned, we are stuck between the hammer of peak oil and the anvil of global warming.  In either case, a radical and immediate move to reduce our use of fossil fuels -- across the board -- is in order.

Of course, you can be a cynic about it (as I believe Dick Cheney is): get what you can, as much as you can, for you and yours as fast as possible before it is too late, for a Hobbesian future awaits!  Amass wealth, build a private army, and tell everyone else to go f*** themselves.

Great point as usual Tedman!

On a related note, did you catch the clip of Cheney being told to go f*ck himself?

It was brilliant...see for yourselves:

I think two points from Twilight in the Desert are relevant:

  • Simmons has an entire chapter, 12, dedicated to questioning whether the Saudis even have the 260 bbl they claim to have already, and
  • he notes that the country has been thoroughly explored for new oilfields,* and that the Saudis are planning on increasing production not from any new fields, but by rehabilitating old ones.

    Many people who have thought about this issue believe that the abrupt spate of late 1980s proven reserve increases had more to do with OPEC production quotas than with geology. I think that the near zero rates of proven reserve increases before and after that round of increases probably bears that out.

    Certainly, the government of Saudi Arabia knows a hell of a lot more about oil exploration than I do. So who am I to question their remarks? On the other hand, how can a figure remain nearly steady for 15 years and then suddenly double? That just doesn't seem very likely. Halfin's right that URR would be expected to increase in light of higher prices, but would that increase happen all at once, and in such a huge amount? Given all this, I suspect that Naimi is just putting the statement out there for two reasons:

    1) to calm the oil markets after prices kept rising even though he promised 19 times that Saudi Arabia would increase production, and
    2) to take that big spotlight that's been shining on Matthew R. Simmons and move it anyplace else.

    I can't prove this, but I can still suspect it.

    * There are three relatively small areas not yet explored, a strip along Iraq, the deepwater Red Sea, and "the bottom end of the Empty Quarter." Could the 200 billion barrels have come from one of those places?

  • If this were really the case that they have a major new find would they not have invited a media circus in to see for themselves? After all its not every day you find a whole other Saudi Arabia.

    I think the real reason behind such pronouncements is that they feel they have lost their position as swing producer and being arab don't want to lose face especally to the infidel west.


    Working late again.  Good to see people are up on their philosophy of science.  Also, I must confess, I am a secret admirer of Feyerabend.  Probably why I enjoy the debates at this site and particularly this thread -- Wadosy had a particularly good post.

    As for Saudi Arabia losing face to the infidel west - not sure what you mean.  Can you explain.  SA seems to be a key ally and the government criticized for its closeness to the infidels.  Being a swing producer and loss of power is however a good point and articles are starting to emerge questioning the relevance of OPEC and with SA central to the cartel, they may be feeling insecure -- this is something worth discussing.

    Well the west has been a constant source of arab humiliation down the ages, and the arab street cannot forget this even if the Saudi Royal family tries to becaue it relies on the same humiliator to shore up its tenure.  
    I stumbled across this thread and am trying to determine scientifically if JD has read Twilight in the Desert.  But there does not seem to be transparency on the issue despite a direct question put forth twice.  Is this answered on some other thread?