Saturday, August 09, 2008

Whoever let him loose?

If you think rising consumption is to blame, hold your horses. According to OPEC estimates, the organisation’s proven reserves are expected to be somewhere close to 900 billion barrels and conventional sources are secure. Contributing close to 77% of all reserves, OPEC is the primary body controlling the world’s major oil sites.

Major members are Middle Eastern sates such as Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait. Various other regions are also represented in the organisation; countries like Venezuela, Indonesia and Nigeria are among major members as well. Thus, as a holistic approach towards understanding the oil crises spread across the planet, it is important to understand the composition of OPEC first. According to OPEC facts & figures, “The world’s Ultimately Recoverable Reserves (URR) is to continue to increase in the near future. Therefore, the real issue is not reserve availability, but timely deliverability and here enhanced cooperation and dialogue among all parties to ensure security of demand, as well as security of supply.” The report estimates that from 1995-2003, new discoveries had actually improved recoveries by almost 138 billion barrels. This was especially possible due to more advanced extraction techniques & management. By 2020, oil production is likely to cross 1600 billion barrels with reserves close to 3400 billion barrels! On the basis of OEPC’s own data, it can be logically concluded that the oil price dilemma is not necessarily dependent on consumption alone. Various analysts have contended that OPEC deliberately controls production in order to safeguard its own interests in order to maintain a high price point.

While the top ten oil extracting nations produce about 52 million barrels/day, the top ten oil consuming countries together use close to only 50 million barrels/ day. This means that that a good 2 million barrels of crude can be utilised in price stabilisation, especially when volatility is playing havoc with the global economy. It’s technically proven that the world currently produces more oil than it consumes, but uncertainty of oil prices remains. Production has increased by a salubrious 26% as compared to levels in the 1960s. In fact, oil price insecurity can easily be alleviated on the prospects of huge untapped reserves in Alaska, Latin America and Siberia.

“Oil prices are not determined by the ‘real’ supply-demand for oil, it is the ‘anticipated’ supply-demand, which ascertains the value of the product,” says Saikia. As far as the blame game is concerned, the supposedly new oil hungry nations putting pressure on global oil prices, are factually not the raison d etre’ for the anomaly. China, the nation taking up most of the blame, consumes close to 7.2 million barrels/ day however more than half of this (3.8 million) is met by domestic production. US, on the other hand, consumes a preposterous 20.5 million barrels every day, while contributing a miniscule 8.1 million. Even major oil producing countries like Indonesia cannot hold on to prevailing pressure. With the dangers of ‘galloping inflation’ looming, the country is all set to withdraw from OPEC. It’s the most stinging irony with power. Those that hold oil reserves are making life dificult for the rest by constraining production. The problem then is not shortage of oil per se, but rather the concentration of oil resources in a few hands, which are failing to see beyond their own interests towards the larger good of the planet.

For Complete IIPM Article, Click on IIPM Article

Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2008
An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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