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Page added on December 27, 2012

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Peak oil group presses EIA to temper optimistic crude outlook


In a first-ever meeting, peak oil proponents met with the US Energy Information Administration earlier this month to urge the nation’s top statistical agency to temper its rosy outlook on future US energy production.

Representatives from The Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas USA (ASPO) met for two hours on December 17 with EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski and EIA staff to discuss concerns laid out in an October letter. Specifically, the group wanted to learn more about how EIA compiles the data that leads to its projections of US and international crude output and to offer alternative sources of data and expertise to aid in that effort.

It was the first time the group had ever met with the EIA, ASPO Executive Director Jan Lars Mueller told Platts in a recent interview.

“We wanted to figure out how we can better work with EIA,” Mueller said. “We did not expect them to embrace” our point of view he said. “We think they need to be open. Otherwise, they’ll be more subject to confirmation bias.”

In the meeting, ASPO representatives pressed the need for projections for future oil and gas supply to “properly consider technical and economic factors that may constrain US domestic production,” the group said in a follow-up report to its members. The group also emphasized that EIA and its parent agency, the Department of Energy, “need to recognize broader trends that may be increasing the risk of a world oil crisis.”

In its letter to Sieminski and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the group said it was worried that industry and media hype, fueled by increases in production from shale formations, was creating a misleading picture of US energy supplies going forward.

“The prospect that the United States can be ‘energy independent’ by increasing North American oil production is overly optimistic and has been grossly overstated,” the group wrote. “At the same time, the dangers of rising global demand and declining trends for oil exports on which the United States depends have been understated and overlooked.”


The ASPO designated a liaison to work directly with a senior adviser to the assistant EIA administrator, Mueller said. The group did not get agreement on its second goal, to establish an outside expert citizen panel to provide EIA with a range of viewpoints from various sources.

“That’s going to be a heavier lift, but we will continue to push for that,” Mueller said. “Even if we have a tendency to attract people who are interested in the limits side, it’s just good science to bring in someone who says you might be wrong.”

EIA spokesman Jonathan Cogan said the agency regularly meets with stakeholders and customers “to improve our analysis.”

The peak oil viewpoint has been challenged in recent years as new technology has allowed the tapping of tight oil in shale formations in the US as well as oil sands in Canada. The most optimistic forecasts suggest that US crude production will continue to grow and that North America could become energy independent sometime in the next decade or so. That view led influential Citibank energy analyst Ed Morse to recently proclaim that “peak oil is dead.”

Mueller said his goal in the EIA meeting was to share the resources of the geologists and economists who belong to ASPO and who see a “slowing of growth” in US crude supply in coming years.

“We may be a long way from the summit, but we’re still coming to an inflection point,” Mueller said. “There haven’t been any magic beans falling out of the sky.”


3 Comments on "Peak oil group presses EIA to temper optimistic crude outlook"

  1. ken nohe on Thu, 27th Dec 2012 3:20 pm 

    When has a government body ever predicted a crisis? Their job is just the opposite: To predict “No crisis”, a future which an infinite extension of the present. Crisis will always come as “surprises”: That is the nature of things.

  2. Beery on Thu, 27th Dec 2012 3:38 pm 

    When the downslope is finally confirmed, I’m sure the EIA will proclaim “No one could have predicted this”. It’s what they always say when they’ve been ignoring or glossing over perfectly predictable stuff.

  3. Kenz300 on Thu, 27th Dec 2012 6:40 pm 

    Maybe the EIA needs to hear more from “other sources”. You can always write, email or tweet them and let them know how you feel about their work. Facts would be helpful.

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