Thursday, November 12, 2009

What the Recent IEA Revelations Portend

Will the recent revelations, by a whistleblowing, high-ranking IEA insider, of oil reserve statistics falsified because of political pressure, result in a new wave of political and media honesty regarding peak oil? The official and public pattern of denial and obfuscation hiding the real decline in global oil production figures and the consistently overstated global oil reserves, coupled with a serious lack of transparency regarding true oil field recovery rates (realistically only 30-50 percent) that are a fraction of the oil reserves themselves, have been clearly designed to maintain an atmosphere of complacency about the security of the world's energy potential. The reasons are quite simple, the primary one being the prevention of panic both on Wall Street and Main Street.

The willingness of the IEA to bow to political pressure to sugar coat global oil statistics has ultimately set the IEA up as the fall guy to take the hit when honesty finally permeates the halls of government. They are, after all, the statistics published by the IEA, not those produced by government agencies such as the US EIA. Governments can, and probably will, simply claim that the IEA misinterpreted their wishes and that they were unaware that the IEA were systematically overstating the numbers. And the media will probably be willing partners - based, of course, on information supplied to them by trusted inside government sources - in laying the blame at the IEA's feet.

It is possible, of course, that the same government pressure that has caused the IEA to pump up oil statistics over recent years has now been brought to bear on the IEA to now let it leak that they have been fudging the numbers and to prepare to take the fall on behalf of those governments. The leaks may now start to be echoed by official IEA spokespersons who will likely accompany those admissions with copious Mea Culpas as they claim that they were not aware that their underlings were fudging the numbers. That will, of course, be coupled with strong promises and commitments to weed out the bad apples responsible and bring a new veneer of transparency in their reporting.

This whole thing looks too much like setting up the populace for official recognition of peak oil and preparing that same populace for a new round of stringent measures designed to allow for a claimed smooth and painless transition into a lower energy future. Groundwork for this, of course, will necessitate a new and invigorated climate of fear akin to that following 9/11 as the government and their media partners stress to the unwary populace the serious implications of peak oil and the pain that will result on Main Street if the people do not follow the dictates of government as they address the issue.

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