EIA shale predictions need closer scrutiny, peak oil group says

Federal oil and gas forecasters have not fully considered factors affecting future US supplies in their recent estimates, members of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas USA (ASPO-USA) warned on Oct. 26. US Energy Information Administration predictions of significantly greater production from US shale resources may be overly optimistic, they said.

“We believe that information and analysis provided by DOE and EIA has glossed over alarming trends regarding oil and gas supply, and fostered complacency about their potentially severe consequences,” they said in a letter to US Sec. of Energy Steven Chu. “Without reliable information and a clear understanding of these monumental energy challenges, decisions and actions by the private and public sector are likely to be ill-founded and misguided.”

DOE’s optimistic future supply forecasts are dangerously unrealistic, James S. Baldauf, president and cofounder of ASPO-USA, told reporters during an Oct. 26 press conference in front of DOE’s headquarters. “If these exuberant predictions are wrong, the consequences could be catastrophic. We need to be conservative in planning for the future,” he said. “We are not running out of oil. But we appear to be running out of oil that we can afford.”

Other government organizations have suggested that caution is warranted, noted Robert L. Hirsch, a senior energy advisor at Management Information Services Inc. The US Department of Defense’s Joint Operating Command said in its biennial report that a world oil supply shortfall would pose a serious challenge to military preparedness, he said in an e-mail to OGJ. “They have said that as soon as 2012, total world oil production will begin to decline, and that there could be a 10 million bbl/day shortage by 2015,” he indicated.

In its letter to Chu, the group asked for a meeting to discuss development of a national oil emergency response plan. ASPO-USA also will hold its seventh annual conference Nov. 2-5 in Washington, DC, and the group invited Chu and members of his staff to attend.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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