Proved reservesThe term "proved reserves" continues to generate both interest and confusion. What does it mean? Is it a useful predictor of future production? How does the US compare with the rest of the world? Changes in proved reserves in the last 20 years (from BP's latest "Statistical Review of World Energy") are revealing.US proved reserves at yearend 1983 were 35.6 billion bbl. At yearend 2003, they were 30.7 billion bbl, or down 4.9 billion bbl. But in the intervening 20 years, the US produced about 64 billion bbl. So if we "correct" reported yearend 1983 reserves by adding interim production (and surely nothing can be more "proved" than oil actually taken out of the ground) to...

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