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Friday, October 01, 2004

Signif I Cant

One has to read between the lines to gauge the importance of an oil "find" in Malaysia:
Shell makes major oil discovery
A “significant” find means an oil field as big as Kikeh, operated by Murphy Oil, said an analyst with a local brokerage. Kikeh is estimated to hold some 20% of the country's current oil reserves.

Murphy Oil said recently Kikeh had a recoverable reserves base of over 400 million barrels and was expected to produce 120,000 gross barrels of oil per day in the first two years, and to continue at that level for six years. It planned to start production in Kikeh in 2007.

If the find is indeed 400 million barrels, to place it into geo-political terms, that is good enough for 5 days of equivalent world-wide consumption. Thus, we arrive at a working definition of "significant" in oil-industry parlance: 5 days of oil.

Note that the total reserves, based on extrapolating the 20% number, is 2 billion barrels. However, we find a creative bookkeeping miscue occurs here:
As at Jan 1, Malaysia's oil reserves and condensate ranked 27th in the world with a total volume of 4.84 billion barrels. Under the current production rate of 600,000 barrels per day, the reserves are expected to last 18 years.

The 4.84 billion contradicts the 2 billion from the other quoted paragraph. But then again, you have to rationally compare 60 days against 25 days of equivalent world-wide consumption, and realize it's more useful to argue how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

Update: Say you were told that you had a terminal disease, but a doctor announced a "significant" discovery that would extend your life. How would you feel if the extension amounted to 5 days?

Buried at the bottom of CNN/Money: A G7 official said ahead of Friday's meeting of finance ministers in Washington that there was now "a recognition that oil resources were scarcer than was thought a few years ago."


Professor Blogger Bubba said...

Your point is taken. However what is signficant from a company perspective will unlikely be significant from a world perspective. Trust me about this - a 400 million barrel field is significant to any oil company on the planet - with the possible exception of Aramco. I look at opportunities almost every day. The scary thing is how few of them are anywhere near the size of Kikeh.

Just because $1000 or $10,000 may be insignificant to the US GDP, that doesn't mean that either you or I would not be strongly averse to throwing this amount of our own money away.

9:09 PM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

Absolutely true. That's how and why the Bush clan makes money for themselves and their cronies. A small fraction of the world's energy needs is still a fortune. So yes, significant for Malaysian investors, but insignicant for the world as a whole.

9:01 AM  

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