According to the president and CEO of real Big Oil, Saudi Aramco, only 18% has been tapped so far:
VIENNA, Austria – The world has tapped only 18 percent of the total global supply of crude, a leading Saudi oil executive said Wednesday, challenging the notion that supplies are petering out.
Abdallah S. Jum’ah, president and CEO of the state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known better as Aramco, said the world has the potential of 4.5 trillion barrels in reserves – enough to power the globe at current levels of consumption for another 140 years.
Jum’ah challenged oil ministers and petroleum executives at an OPEC conference in Vienna to step up exploration “and leave the minimum amount of oil in the ground.”
“The world has only consumed about 18 percent of its conventional potential,” Jum’ah said, contending that should lay to rest fears that the world is in danger of being tapped out within a few decades.
The folks at The Oil Drum, the most important site I know of devoted to the Peak Oil hypothesis, are, shall we say, skeptical:
Westexas: How do you know the Saudis are lying?
GliderGuilder: Their lips are moving?
What follows is probably as well-informed and intelligent a discussion of the issue as you’re likely to find. One of the commenters makes the vital point:
There may well be 10 trillion barrels left. But that’s not the point. It’s the cost of producing it. And not the dollar cost.
Why would the CEO of the national Saudi oil company say this? Lynne Kiesling of The Knowledge Problem reminds us that “prices are a function of expectations of future supply and demand”.