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Monday, May 15, 2006

Reserve Growth Recap

I have gone around the bend a few times trying to understand the conundrums behind the concept of "reserve growth". What exactly causes the majority of the grief, I can't say for sure, yet I can volunteer the extenuating issues and points of contention:
  1. Hard to tell the difference between reserve growth and new discoveries.
  2. Some reserve growth rates, when extrapolated, point to infinite URR.
  3. Most reserve growth rates as extrapolated won't even begin to keep up with demand.
  4. Areas that show reserve growth look good for awhile but when they get shut down, they get removed from the data set.
  5. (follows from 4) If reserve growth does hit an asymptote, no one ever notices it, because it gets removed from the data set the minute it shows problems. This makes the concept of "reserve growth" a veritable pot'o'gold at the end of the rainbow for the cornucopians, because the contradicting evidence does not exist.
  6. Certain areas show huge reserve growth (e.g. USA) but still hit peak oil. Other areas show little reserve growth, have honest reporting (e.g. UK and Norway) and of course hit peak oil.
  7. Reserve growth predictions become heavily politicized and filled with legal technicalities because of the potential for fraud. The reserve growth effect itself could perhaps result more from an artifact of the reporting technique than anything else. For example, see the SEC regulations prohibiting "speculative" estimates.
  8. Look up the concept of "creaming curves" and try to distinguish creaming from reserve growth without going nuts.
  9. Even though potentially promising regions in the world harbor dictators or fiefdoms or inhospitable natural environments, many people hold out for the hope of unknown amounts of reserve growth there. Daunting prospects, I say.
  10. Lastly, "Mars, bitches!". Because growth extends to the limits of the universe.
As I have struggled with trying to resolve all these point simultaneously, my blog postings on the subject have shown at least a maturing of my understanding.

I started by looking at creaming curves here.

I saw some intriguing data on huge reserve growth in the US reported by the USGS, and tried to brush it aside a bit pedantically here.

I almost convinced myself that reserve growth would not have an impact here.

I gave a shot at modeling reserve growth by applying conventional parabolic growth mathematics here.

I finally caught on to understanding SEC regulations on reporting here and added some thoughts on asymptotic limits to growth.

I found a few place where reserve growth showed little potential here.

I started to comprehend how reserve growth will lead to wildly asymmetric depletion profiles here.

And that you could achieve infinite URR without asymptotic limits here but that it makes little difference in the end.

Finally, I give some pointers on how to argue this whole issue from a position of true understanding here.

Trip, strange, long. If that is our destiny, you cannot change it. But do not go in fear, Grasshopper. Fear is eternal darkness. Go instead with inner strength. For it is like a deep river, into which all streams flow. It increases, always moving forward. And soon, there is nothing that can stand in its way.


Professor Blogger SW said...

A couple of comments. Reserve growth in the US is a historical anomaly. Two factors are responsible. One is that the oil business grew up at the same time that the major fields were being discovered by thousands of wildcatters. Everyone with their little piece of the elephant. Initially the technology didn't exist to determine the true extent of the fields that were being discovered. The second factor was the oil depletion allowance. This encouraged folks to underestimate their reserves so that the oil produced was a larger fraction of their reserves. This is exactly the opposite of the incentive provided to OPEC members today where their production quotas are determined by their reserves therefore encouraging them to overestimate their reserves.

6:41 AM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...


I have your second point covered by #7, even though as you say this is the opposite kind of fraud -- trying to sucker investors in slowly as opposed to all at once by exagerrating claims (as the SEC tried to prevent).

The first point works out too, but I have had lots of arguments over that idea. If you look at even recent data (from the USGS) you see underestimates in recent dicovery reserves even with the great new technology advances and improved predictions.

6:33 PM  
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5:53 PM  

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