LONDON Oct 30 Leading figures from the Middle
East oil industry added their voices on Tuesday to those warning
that the world is struggling to sustain rising oil production.
"There is a real problem -- that supply may not be possible
to increase beyond a certain level, say around 100 million
barrels," Libya's National Oil Corporation chairman Shokri
Ghanem said at an industry conference.
"The reason is, in some countries production is going down
and we are not discovering any more of those huge oil wells that
we used to discover in the Sixties or the Fifties."
Sadad al-Husseini was a key architect of Saudi Arabian
energy production policy for more than a decade whilst a top
official at state oil firm Saudi Aramco. He was even more
pessimistic, saying world oil production had already plateaued.
"We are already three years into level production," Husseini
also told the annual Oil & Money conference, a gathering of top
The views are far more conservative than those of the
International Energy Agency, adviser to consumer countries, that
supply will rise to 116 million bpd by 2030 to meet demand, from
about 86 million bpd now.
Production is in decline in some regions, such as the North
Sea, increasing the burden on other producers such as the 12
members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting
A five-year rally in oil prices, which hit a record high
above $93 a barrel on Monday, is leading to growing interest in
peak oil -- the view that supply has reached, or will soon reach
a high point and then fall.
"So many people are talking about the peak oil theory,"
Ghanem said. "It is not the figure itself but the principle that
the world cannot continue being able to produce oil infinitely."
Peak oil theory has its detractors, who say technology can
help extend the life of the world's reserves.
The price surge has also coincided with rising scepticism
about the size of the world's oil reserves.
OPEC sits on about 75 percent of the world's total proven
oil reserves of 1.208 trillion barrels, according to figures
compiled by BP in its Statistical Review of World Energy.
Husseini said at the conference that reserves estimates are
too high and oil prices can only remain on a rising trend.
Proven oil "reserves" are overstated by 300 billion barrels
of speculative "resources", mainly in OPEC countries, he said.
By 2030, production of oil and natural gas liquids could fall to
about 75 million bpd.
"As long as demand continues to grow, oil prices can only go
up," said Husseini.