February 14, 2007 / 9:43 PM / in 10 years

Global oil production to rise through 2050 -Aramco

3 Min Read

HOUSTON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Global oil production has not yet peaked and technological innovations should keep output rising at least through 2050, an official from Saudi Arabia's state oil company said on Wednesday.

Nansen Saleri, reservoir management manager for Saudi Aramco, dismissed arguments that the world's oil production had reached its apex and was sliding into decline, adding Saudi Arabia could boost reserves by 40 percent to 1 trillion barrels in the next two decades.

"I would say it is going to be 2050 or more (before production peaks) because I think new technologies are going to favorably impact the business," Saleri said at a conference hosted by Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

Saleri spoke a day after energy investment banker Matthew Simmons, a proponent of the "peak oil" theory and a critic of Saudi Arabia's production statistics, called for better industry data to prove that crude output is on the wane.

Key to delaying the decline in global production is squeezing more from oil fields, Saleri said.

Oil companies are forced to leave significant volumes of crude in wells, because draining extra barrels is either too difficult or expensive. The current industry record for development is about 35 percent of reserves pumped, with the remaining 65 percent left in the ground.

High-tech advances and use of water injection to push crude oil out of deposits should put that percentage closer to 70 percent, Saleri said.

Saudi Arabia -- the de-facto leader of the OPEC producers group and the world's biggest crude oil exporter -- has about 25 percent of global crude oil reserves.

Total known reserves are about 716 billion barrels, of which about 260 billion barrels have been officially quoted as being "proven," or recoverable with current methods.

New technologies being employed by Saudi Aramco could push that figure over 1 trillion barrels in the next 20 years, Saleri said.

Previous predictions for a peak in global output have been proven wrong, Saleri said. Global producers continue to confound such projections -- global crude production now stands at about 86 million barrels per day.

Around 1 trillion barrels of crude oil have been produced so far, out of a total resource base of about 14 trillion barrels -- roughly evenly split between conventional sources and nonconventional ones like heavy oil from the Canadian oilsands, Saleri said.

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