World media organisations respond to RSC oil claims


09 June 2008

Today a series of news organisations sought interviews with the RSC chief executive following publication of a large article in The Independent newspaper in the UK.

CBS Radio of America and Al Jazeera, the Arab news network, both asked for interviews with Dr Pike.

The Independent ran a half-page story entitled "Oil shortage a myth, says industry insider", which reports at length the views of Richard Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry. 

This follows an earlier reference by the Times last Thursday to UK oil reserves, which drew on sections of a two-page article by Dr Pike in the highly-regarded journal Petroleum Review, published in June 2006. His concern was that the world was underestimating the environmental challenges facing us in the future. 

Dr Pike's assertion is that as each oil field's reserves are characterised within the industry by a probability distribution resembling a bell-jar, then they should be added up in a statistically correct way. 

Typically, the x-axis of the bell-jar graph will be reserves in barrels and the y-axis the probability of achieving such total production during the field life. The bell-jar reflects the fact there are many uncertainties in determining reserves, including the dimensions of the field and the chemistry of its composition, as well as flow properties in bringing the oil to the surface.

Proven reserves represent the quantity that, with this range of available data, has a 90% probability (or near certainty) of being produced. In pragmatic terms, it is at the extreme left hand side of the bell-jar curve, well below the most likely production corresponding to the peak of the curve. 

When adding correctly the bell-jars of two or more fields, complex analytical or computer-based Monte Carlo techniques are needed. Importantly, the new 90% exceedance level (true proven reserves) is significantly more than merely the arithmetic sum of the individual fields. 

Dr Pike's article explains the details of this analysis, which leads to the broad conclusions reflected in the recent newspaper reports. 

Downloadable Files

Have we underestimated the environmental challenge?
Petroleum Review June 2006
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