Senior Oil Exec Warns Of Collision With Oil Supply Problems
Nothing Like Business as Usual
By Byron W. King
ALI SAMSAM BAKHTIARI is a retired “senior energy expert,” formerly employed by the National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC) of Tehran, Iran. He has held a number of important positions with NIOC since 1971. He is currently attached to the director's office in the Corporate Planning Directorate of NIOC, and specializes in questions related to the global oil, gas and petrochemical industries. This alone ought to pique your interest because Bakhtiari has the ear of the most important decision-makers in Iran. What is he telling them?
Fortunately for us in the West, Bakhtiari is also an independent consultant who writes and speaks to a worldwide audience on the subject of oil depletion in general, and Peak Oil in particular. His tribal name, Bakhtiari, means “companions of good fortune,” and the story of his life is somewhat emblematic of that meaning. Based on what I have seen, Bakhtiari has a gift for understanding, and a unique ability to share this gift with others. There are few more qualified people in the world who can discuss Peak Oil. So when Bakhtiari talks, people ought to listen.
And as an aside, anyone within the Western diplomatic or military community who deals with Iranian Issues at almost any level needs to understand what Bakhtiari has been telling the leadership of Iran. What do the mullahs know about oil that you may not know? It might just explain a few things about Iranian behavior.
Oil at $100-150 per Barrel
In a recent public address to the Senate of Australia, Bakhtiari stated that “I can see a range of $100-150 [per barrel of oil] not very far into the future.” He amplified this statement as follows:
“We are entering an era in which we know nothing much, where we have a brand-new set of rules…One of these new rules, in my opinion, is that there will be in the very near future nothing like business as usual. In my opinion, nothing is usual from now on for any of the countries involved. And the lower you are in the pile, the worse it is going to get.”
Bakhtiari believes that the world is at Peak Oil, producing about as much conventional oil on a daily basis as will ever be produced, now about 84 million barrels per day. From here on, the oil markets of the world will be dealing with the ongoing effects of oil field depletion and irreversible production decline.
By 2025, Bakhtiari expects that the world’s daily production of conventional oil will fall to a level between 50-55 million barrels of oil per day. Bakhtiari counsels that the world’s governments, industries, and people accept the fact and begin to prepare. There is no time to lose."
And as an aside, anyone within the Western diplomatic or military community who deals with Iranian issues at almost any level needs to understand what Bakhtiari has been telling the leadership of Iran. What do the mullahs know about oil that you may not know? It might just explain a few things about Iranian behavior.
Four Phases of Decline
Bakhtiari views the future in terms of four phases of transition, or, as he puts it, T1, T2, T3, and T4. Fortunately for the world’s users of petroleum, the “hidden advantage” of Bakhtiari’s T1 is that worldwide oil supplies will remain almost constant during this initial phase. That is, new discoveries and production that is now coming on line will compensate for the production that is lost due to depletion. T2, T3, and T4 will be, as Bakhtiari puts it, “more turbulent .”
At the end of T1, Bakhtiari envisions “two major scales tilting.” There will be a supply of conventional oil, all of which will be subject to world demand. That is, there is not now, and will not be at the end of T1, any “swing” production, such as the cushion that Saudi Arabia provided during the past 40 years or so. Supply will dictate demand, and when the supply is gone, the demand will go unsatisfied. “In the end, it will be the total shift” to oil supply dictating demand. Rising prices will clear the market, and the prices will rise precipitously.