At the EIA’s International Energy Outlook (IEO) presentation this May the issue of future oil exports from OPEC nations came up, and in an interesting way. Readers may be familiar with the phenomenon of declining net exports, from major oil producing nations, as a result of internal demand from growing, domestic populations. The phenomenon was modelled last decade by Jeffrey Brown and Samuel Foucher. Their Export-Land Model showed that the rate of decline from oil exporters can become quite accelerated. While that may seem obvious, it was a point worth making last decade when it was widely presumed that gross production from large oil producing nations was largely available for export. The tipping, of both the UK and Indonesia, from net oil exporters to net oil importers should have put an end to such a presumption. More importantly, the rise of domestic oil consumption in Saudi Arabia was also a warning. Saudi oil exports have declined now for five years.
Given that Saudi Arabia’s exports have already been in decline for some time, it was surprising to hear EIA Deputy Administrator Howard Gruenspecht not only fail to acknowledge that fact, but forecast a rather sanguine outlook on future OPEC export supply in the IEO May press conference. It is particularly noteworthy that he gave such an empty and meaningless answer to the questioner, James Schlesinger former Energy Secretary under Carter, who made a point of probing in this exact area. | see: dialogue starting after the 37:00 minute mark of Video: International Energy Outlook 2010.