(Adds oil analyst comment)
By Chris Baltimore
WASHINGTON, July 5 The world is not running out
of crude oil and natural gas but there are "accumulating risks"
to securing global supplies through 2030, a high-level board of
U.S. oil company executives found in a report obtained by
Reuters on Thursday.
Those risks include "political hurdles, infrastructure
requirements and availability of trained work force," according
to the study by the U.S. National Petroleum Council, conducted
at the behest of U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman.
The NPC, whose members include executives of big oil
companies like ExxonMobil (XOM.N) and Chevron Corp. (CVX.N),
will present the study at its July 18 meeting.
The council, formed in 1947 at the request of President
Harry Truman, is chaired by Lee Raymond, the former chief
executive of ExxonMobil.
When Bodman called for the study in October 2005, he asked
the council to study the concept of "peak oil," whether the
globe was running out of hydrocarbons.
"Perspectives vary widely on the ability of supply to keep
pace with growing world demand for oil and natural gas," Bodman
wrote at the time.
In a draft letter to Bodman outlining its findings, the
group says, "The world is not running out of energy resources,
but there are accumulating risks to continuing expansion of oil
and natural gas production from the conventional sources relied
The group calls for "a new assessment of the global oil and
natural gas endowment and resources to provide more current data
for the continuing debate."
Matt Simmons, founder of Houston-based Simmons and Co.
International, who has argued that world oil production is
declining irreversibly, criticized the report's findings.
Simmons, a member of the council who provided input for the
report, pointed to a graph showing oil production from existing
reserves falling below 20 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2030
from current levels near 75 million bpd.
In that chart, the addition of output from known reserves,
enhanced oil techniques, unconventional sources like Canada's
oil sands and "exploration potential" boosts the total to near
120 million bpd by 2030.
"We don't have any idea where those reserves are going to
come from or how we are going to get them out of the ground,"
Simmons said. "The odds of this ever happening are zero."
On the other side of the issue, prominent energy expert
Daniel Yergin, chairman of oil consultancy Cambridge Energy
Research Associates, who served as vice chairman of demand
issues for the council, has dismissed the idea of "peak oil."
Instead, Yergin's group has predicted an "undulating
plateau" of crude oil production over several decades, followed
by a slow decline.
The National Petroleum Council also debunked the idea that
the United States can wall itself off from dependence on foreign
oil suppliers like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, a notion popular
with some U.S. lawmakers.
"The concept of energy independence is not realistic in the
foreseeable future," the study says.
The study calls for boosting energy efficiency across all
sectors -- including transportation -- and expanding energy
sources like coal, nuclear, biomass and unconventional
The only mention of OPEC -- the producers group that
controls a third of global oil exports - is in a footnote.