For Sale: Dwindling Iraqi Oil Field $1 Trillion or Best Offer

I have too much time on my hands, so I took a gander at the 2009 BP Statistical Review of World Energy to kill time as well as wait to see if I won the bid for an Iraqi oil field. I didn’t.

BP and China National Petroleum beat me and they now have the right to develop Rumaila – the largest Iraqi oil field. The two organizations beat out a bid from Exxon Mobil Corporation and the Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani estimates that the selling of oil rights will garner them more than $1.7 trillion over the next 20 years.

This win shouldn’t be surprising considering 2008 was the first year that developing countries, led by China, consumed more energy than developed countries. It was also noted in BP’s report that industrialized countries reduced their energy consumption by 1.3 percent led by a 2.8 percent decline in energy consumption from the U.S. –the steepest single-year decline since 1982. However the potential benefits of energy reduction were offset by countries who increased their energy consumption. China accounted for nearly three-quarters of the 1.4 percent global consumption increase.

So, did we reduce our global oil consumption or what? Yes. By 1.3 percent. For you Peak Oil fanatics – pay special attention – 2008 also marked a REDUCTION in proven oil reserves. Since 1980 oil reserves have fallen only three times, 1990, 1998 and 2008.

Oil, oh oil, where has thou gone?

BP estimated that we have 42 years of oil left at current consumption rates, 60 years left of natural gas and 122 years of coal. This might be fine and dandy if the people of the world used the same amount of energy each year. They don’t. They use MORE each year.

According to The International Energy Outlook, world marketed energy consumption is projected to increase by 44 percent from 2006 to 2030. Total energy demand in developing countries is estimated to increase by 73 percent, compared with an increase of only 15 percent in developed countries.

The U.S. is hoping to curb its fossil fuel consumption through the Cash for Clunkers program, increased fuel economy standards (CAFE standards) and proposed Climate Bill. It is also hoping to increase biofuels use through the Biofuels Interagency Working Group, and boost the pace of bringing hybrids and electric cars to market in part through the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

What’s the moral of this story? Oil is running out. Accept it and move on. The world must change how it produces and uses energy. Now.


Joanna Schroeder

Joanna is a writer and consultant specializing in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture issues.