Morons, War and Oil Reserves

Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of which countries the US is at war with, or to guess who might be next. Without understanding the global picture, morons often believe the justification for each war individually: Afghanistan was because of 9/11; Iraq was about WMD; Libya was about protecting civilians… and so on.

Last week’s Economist magazine (a great read if you haven’t tried it) included a handy little table showing known oil reserves by country. Surprisingly (for morons anyway), the table correlates tightly with US foreign policy. As well as the bar showing the absolute number of barrels, the number on the right shows how much longer the oil will last, based on current rates of extraction.

A key statistic here is the size of the US reserves: only 11.3 years of home-produced oil left. Given that the US is hopelessly addicted to oil, and is by far the world’s largest consumer, it becomes easily understandable why America spends so many dollars (and military lives) on securing those territories that have most of the remaining oil.

Let’s run through the top ten countries in the list:

  1. Saudi Arabia: the US maintains a conservative Islamic dictatorship with a terrible human rights record. The presence of 5,000 US troops in Saudi Arabia led to the 9/11 attacks (15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi).
  2. Venezuela: as every moron knows, Hugo Chavez is an evil dictator. Except in reality he’s been elected repeatedly in free and fair elections. In 2002, the Bush Administration attempted (and failed) to have Chavez removed in a military coup. America can’t tolerate a democratic regime outside its control sitting on 200bn barrels of oil – watch this space.
  3. Iran: they’re trying to make nuclear weapons! And the free world can’t have that, can we? Iran’s last democratic government was toppled by a CIA-backed coup in 1953. Sorry Iran, we simply can’t afford to let you have democracy.
  4. Iraq: over 100,000 civilians and 4,780 US troops have been killed to secure these 100bn barrel reserves.
  5. Kuwait: a US “ally” like Saudi Arabia (meaning a dictatorship backed by US military). Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 triggered the first US Gulf War).
  6. United Arab Emirates: another US “ally” (two of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE).
  7. Russia: these reserves are probably beyond US military reach. Sorry America!
  8. Libya: we’re only bombing to defend the poor civilians, honest! (On the other hand, civilians in Syria, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Bahrain and elsewhere will just have to look after themselves).
  9. Kazakhstan: borders both Russia and China. Perhaps this reserve partly explains the long-term US presence in nearby Afghanistan.
  10. Nigeria: a country corrupted almost beyond repair by its large oil reserves. Other West African countries such as Ghana are also finding large amounts of oil. Watch out Africa, China and the US like the look of your oil!

8 thoughts on “Morons, War and Oil Reserves”

  1. Venezuela? I suggest you spend a little time studying the Orinoco Belt especially with regard to the quality (or lack thereof) of the crude from that region.

    Since you are undoubtedly either lazy or wish to engage in misinformation or the victim of misinformation let me do some research already for you:

    “The Orinoco Belt consists of large deposits of extra heavy crude (oil sands), known as the Orinoco Oil Sands or the Orinoco Tar Sands.''

    Just junk. Tar sands is what you get when oil has not had time to fully develop. If oil isn't deep enough and doesn't get hot enough for long enough it is not really a valuable resource compared to light crude.

    Plus the claims of any OPEC member are tainted by their lack of transparency and lack of disclosure and tendency to restate their reserves in order to fulfill policy requirements rather than to factually report on what their oil reserves are.

    OPEC member nations have been caught upwardly revising the amount of their oil reserves in tandem strongly correlated along with policy changes that were intended to conserve petroleum production i.e. ones that insist that the rate at which an OPEC member can produce oil is intended to be proportional to their reserves so in order to produce faster you simply lie about having more oil.

    BP Statistical Review – June 2009 dissected a bit.

  2. While we are on the topic of oil, here's a fun little riddle? Why does 2010 oil weigh less than 2008 oil?

    full excel workbook from 1965-2010 (almost 2 MB)

    BP June 2011

    Total world oil production in thousand barrels per day and million tonnes

    Year Barrel  Tonne
    2008 82015 3933.7
    2009 80278 3831.0
    2010 82095 3913.7

    Weird how it goes up by 80 from 2008 to 2010 by volume while it falls by 20 by weight.

    Could it be that Crude + Condensate is shifting from high-energy-density crude to lower-energy-density condensates as natural gas well condensates are increasingly all we have left as world oil production falls and falls since 2005 and we have to lie about it in more and more peculiar ways?

  3. Also how many Moron Watchers have even noticed the following report from State Grid Corp of China (SGCC) via Thomson Reuters showing that China has a national forecast deficit of over 40 Gigawatts of electric power for this summer:

    > TABLE-China power shortage forecasts by region
    > Thu Jun 2, 2011 8:24am GMT
    >
    > (Adds Tianjin)
    >
    > BEIJING, June 2 (Reuters) – China appears to be heading for its worst
    > power shortage since 2004, putting pressure on already squeezed
    > industries and raising the possibility that the world's second-largest
    > economy will turn into a net importer of diesel.
    >
    > … skip …
    >
    > Total maximum deficit GigaWatts 44.85-49.85

    despite Reuters having published it at least three times:

    TABLE-China power shortage forecasts by region / ‎May 25, 2011‎


    TABLE-China power shortage forecasts by region / ‎June 2, 2011‎

    TABLE-China power shortage forecasts by region / June 15, 2011

    Meanwhile the media coverage over some politician's lewd tweet explodes and the coverage of the largest energy crisis in China ever is what?

  4. Hmmmm babystrangeloop, so Venezuela's oil is less sweet than Saudi's… interesting but so what?

    It was still sweet enough for the US to engineer a coup against Chavez. It's sweet enough to have fueled some pretty impressive revenues to fund Venezuelan development (not to mention Cuba's and other Chavez allies).

    So though your facts are interesting, I don't get the relevance. You say "Since you are undoubtedly either lazy or wish to engage in misinformation" but haven't stated which "misinformation" I'm supposed to have provided.

    If reading the Economist (and relying on their stats) is lazy, I guess I am. Are you disputing their figures? Or not?

  5. Your list is moronic, too.

    I bet I could pick 10 countries at random, and you could come up with pithy comments about them being either a US ally or someone we're at war with to get their *name your raw material*.

    I mean, seriously, the US is either protecting a brutal dictatorship to keep their oil, or fighting a brutal dictatorship to get their oil.

    From the self-appointed "Moron Watcher" I expect better analysis than this sophomoric pablum.

    You're losing your touch.

  6. The US troop presence in Saudi Arabia led to 9/11? A tad on the side of 'Islamo-Fascist apologist'. They are fundamentalist anti-westerners and tend not to worry about the realities of geopolitics – they're a bit mad like that. (i.e. Palestine and Israel is often enough – a British invention.)

    Chavez's 'free and fair' elections. Check again. It wasn't quite that way – he's a militarist who arranged his own coup and perpetuates his authority by misrule.

    1953 Iran? Well, what about the early 20th century British? How far do we go back? Are nuclear weapons in the hands of a leadership publicly threatening to obliterate another nation off the face of the earth, and which actively sponsors terrorism against western nations in the (albeit misguided) wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, not a bad thing.

    And talking of Afghanistan, they don't feature on the list? That could be the old Twin Towers being demolished chestnut – oh, but I forgot, that was the US's fault for having 5,000 troops in Saudi Arabia on the invitation of its monarchist government – a regime which came to power…in the early 20th century without US support.

    Iraq – point taken.

    Kuwait – point taken.

    UAE – eh? What's that got to do with the US? Two random Islamic crackpots from a country doesn't equal bad foreign policy.

    Libya – It's clearly an Anglo-French move but supported by the US, most probably with oil in mind. Though, to be fair, intervening in Syria is geographically a little more tricky (see above), as are the rest you mentioned but why let glaringly obvious details dilute an argument?

    Kazakhstan – again, what? Russia has that one pretty tied up. And it freely trades its oil anyway.

    Nigeria – I don't know what your point is.

    But to return something highlighted in the second to last example – many of these countries sell their oil for profit and build ridiculous buildings with it. It's supply and demand – they sell, the west plus the rest of Asia buys.

    In some cases it's fair to criticise a cynical US foreign policy but simply drawing up a list of the 10 most oil-rich countries and, in many cases, drawing spurious and purposefully malicious links to US action doesn't quite cut it as analysis.

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