Prospecting the academic grounds on global energies patterns
As mentioned earlier, what makes the oil a special asset is its limited amount (as opposed to other recoverable commodities), and the constant uncertainty about the available reserves.
Further, the quantification of those reserves depends itself on the price of the asset; namely while the price of oil rises, it becomes profitable to draw oil deeper or in once remote areas. The evolution of extraction techniques is one source of dynamics in the price of oil- the interaction acting in both directions. As mentioned by Guillaume Fontaine, reserves are somehow an “endogenous variable” (In particular it is a political act to publish data on reserves).
As an example the official reserves have been increased by 20% since 94. This mainly due to a reevaluation of the potential in Middle East and the North Atlantic.
The world reserves amount estimates vary between 2.6 trillions barrels for ASPO to 4.1 trillions for the IFP. The Middle East holding 2/3 of proved reserves.
The issue of fossil fuels reserves estimates and the controversy over the advent of the peak oil is detailed on the following page.
The oil produced by the “supermajor” companies accounts for less than 15% of the total world supply. Over 80% of the world’s reserves of oil and natural gas are controlled by national oil companies. Of the world’s 20 largest companies, 15 are state-owned companies.