Thursday, March 09, 2006

Straight Talking: Cheney at the Institute of Petroleum in 1999

In Autumn 1999, Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton. Via Energy Bulletin, this is a brief extract from the full text of his speech to the Institute of Petroleum in London.

"... for over a hundred years we as an industry have had to deal with the pesky problem that once you find oil and pump it out of the ground you’ve got to turn around and find more or go out of business. Producing oil is obviously a self-depleting activity. Every year you’ve got to find and develop reserves equal to your output just to stand still, just to stay even. This is true for companies as well in the broader economic sense as it is for the world. A new merged company like Exxon-Mobil will have to secure over a billion and a half barrels of new oil equivalent reserves every year just to replace existing production. It’s like making one hundred per cent interest discovery in another major field of some five hundred million barrels equivalent every four months, or finding two Hibernias a year.

For the world as a whole, oil companies are expected to keep finding and developing enough oil to offset our seventy one million plus barrel a day of oil depletion, but also to meet new demand. By some estimates there will be an average of two per cent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead along with conservatively a three per cent natural decline in production from existing reserves. That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day. So where is the oil going to come from?

Governments and the national oil companies are obviously controlling about ninety per cent of the assets. Oil remains fundamentally a government business. While many regions of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East with two thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies; even though companies are anxious for greater access there, progress continues to be slow. It is true that technology, privatisation and the opening up of a number of countries have created many new opportunities in areas around the world for various oil companies, but looking back to the early 1990’s, expectations were that significant amounts of the world’s new resources would come from such areas as the former Soviet Union and from China. Of course that didn’t turn out quite as expected.
[...]
Oil is unique in that it is so strategic in nature. We are not talking about soapflakes or leisurewear here. Energy is truly fundamental to the world’s economy. The Gulf War was a reflection of that reality. The degree of government involvement also makes oil a unique commodity. [...] It is the basic, fundamental building block of the world’s economy. It is unlike any other commodity. "

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