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Leaking in Persian Gulf: “WikiPeak” Oil?

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Kaza­khs call oil “The Dev­il’s Tears”

COMMENT: A recent Wik­iLeaks State Depart­ment cable dis­clo­sure gives a boost to the “Peak Oil” hypoth­e­sis as well as lay­ing the foun­da­tion for a fur­ther run-up in the price of oil. Quot­ing a for­mer Sau­di offi­cial (who may have been speak­ing from bit­ter­ness), the cable says the Saud­is’ oil reserves are very much low­er than pub­licly adver­tised.

In past dis­cus­sion of “Peak Oil,” we have not­ed its gen­e­sis with the major car­tel firms [3] than con­trol the glob­al econ­o­my, as well as the use of the­o­ry to jus­ti­fy a Nazi-style elim­i­na­tion of human beings [4].

NB: It was Wik­iLeaks, recall, that dis­sem­i­nat­ed the East Anglia doc­u­ments [5] that lent fuel to the argu­ment that glob­al warm­ing was a myth. It turned out that the doc­u­ments, as edit­ed, were mis­lead­ing and that leak served the inter­ests of the petro­le­um indus­try and its adher­ents on the far right.

“Have Saud­is Over­stat­ed How Much Oil Is Left?” by Vivi­enne Walt [Time]; Yahoo News; 2/10/2011. [6]

EXCERPT: While the world remains trans­fixed by the Egypt­ian revolt, a cri­sis with equal­ly pro­found glob­al con­se­quences is qui­et­ly brew­ing else­where in the Mid­dle East:  Wik­iLeaks this week released U.S. diplo­mat­ic cables sug­gest­ing that Sau­di Ara­bia may have vast­ly over­stat­ed its oil reserves — if true, that could dra­mat­i­cal­ly accel­er­ate the arrival of the long-feared “peak oil” moment, when oil pro­duc­tion  hits its final high before slow­ly declin­ing, keep­ing prices ris­ing for the fore­see­able future and slow­ing glob­al eco­nom­ic growth. But not all indus­try ana­lysts are con­vinced by the claims in the cables.

The diplo­mat­ic cables from the U.S. embassy in Riyadh between 2007 and 2009 cite a for­mer senior exec­u­tive of Sau­di Ara­bi­a’s state-run Aram­co oil com­pa­ny as reveal­ing to Amer­i­can offi­cials that the coun­try’s offi­cial esti­mate of 716 bil­lion bar­rels of oil reserves is, well, hog­wash; the real fig­ure is about 40% low­er than that, accord­ing to the oil exec­u­tive, Sadad al-Hus­sei­ni, a geol­o­gist who until 2004 head­ed Aram­co’s explo­ration depart­ment — a seem­ing­ly impec­ca­ble source. Wik­iLeaks released the four cables on Tues­day.

As a pri­vate cit­i­zen no longer rep­re­sent­ing the com­pa­ny, Hus­sei­ni was appar­ent­ly free to speak can­did­ly. And in a Novem­ber 2007 meet­ing with the U.S. eco­nom­ic offi­cer in Riyadh, he broke the sober­ing news that the coun­try’s reserves were nowhere near as big as offi­cials were claim­ing. “First, it is pos­si­ble that Sau­di reserves are not as boun­ti­ful as some­times described,” the U.S. Con­sul Gen­er­al John Kin­can­non in Riyadh wrote to State Depart­ment offi­cials in Wash­ing­ton, report­ing on Hus­seini’s analy­sis, “and the time­line for their pro­duc­tion not as unre­strained as Aram­co and ener­gy opti­mists would like to por­tray.” (Read “Is Peak Oil Com­ing Soon?”) [7] . . .