Call for Global Grouping of Oil Companies

Expert says it will help provide data

by Stanley Carvalho
Abu Dhabi

The challenge to find accurate data relating to energy resources will continue unless a global industry grouping of national oil companies for the oil and gas sector is created, a former chief of an energy multinational company and expert said.

The best hope for national companies or agencies is to form an apolitical world organisation to agree on definitions and provide valid data Jean Laherrere, retired explorer and former head of worldwide exploration techniques, Total, told a conference yesterday.

The main challenge in assessing the world's future supply is overcoming the poor quality of the data on both production and reserves, which is subject to much political interference, he said at the sixth annual eneergy conference organised by the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies & Research.

Reporting reserves of oil or gas is a political act because it creates an image to the world. Undisocvered oil estimates range from 200 giga (billion) barrels (Gb) to 1700 Gb. Therefore the challenge is to find better data he said.

The inventory of supply and demand is neither easy to come nor reliable he said, adding that the Paris-based International Energy Association (IEA) is regarded as the best source.

Not only can oil represent different substances such as crude oil, crude oil with condensate, synthetic oil or gasoline, even units differ as exemplified by cubic meter for volume, joule for energy or barrel for oil. Also reserves are termed as proven or unproven.

The probability of the estimate of the reserves for a field is in fact a subjective prrobability .

However, Dr Ibrahim Ismail, engineer and advisor to the UAE Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources, said irrespective of the quality of the data and ambiguous definitions, there has been a continuous growth in oil and gas reserves in the last 50 years.

There is no resource constraint as far as hydrocarbons are concerned. There are reserves but what is important is to put them on stream. Oil rich countries must invest in these resources and put it on stream he said in his remarks to Laherrere's presentation.

Producers are concerned about demand for oil and about the other sources of energy that compete with hydrocarbons, he added.

Gulf News, Sunday October 8, 2000, Business page 28