Many words are available in the English language to describe a story like this, but I think “oh, shit” qualifies nicely. One can gauge the seriousness of a world issue by the amount of people who comment off the record and need to remain anonymous – this piece is positively filled with them.

Most notable is the very last line of the following:

Before long, Ali al-Naimi, the [Saudi] oil minister, and Saudi oil executives were saying that the country could add 200 billion barrels – from existing fields and yet-to-be-discovered resources – to its reserves, enabling production of 15 million barrels a day for 50 years or perhaps longer.

Just before meeting with Prince Abdullah in April, President Bush said he wanted “a straight answer” about how much extra oil the Saudis could pump.

At that session in Texas, the prince reaffirmed the previously announced expansion plans. Saudi Arabia’s capacity now stands at about 11 million barrels a day. The Saudis pump about 9.5 million barrels, leaving a cushion of about 1.5 million barrels, mostly of heavier grades not very usable in the West. There is virtually no other global spare capacity.


But a report in July by the Government Accountability Office found that Iraqi production had declined since late 2004 to 2.1 million barrels a day from 2.5 million barrels, despite White House legislative requests for almost $3 billion to restore the oil industry there to its prewar abilities.

An important reason for the decline, the report found, was improper management of the reservoirs. Gary Edson, then a deputy national security adviser, was told two years ago that Iraqi production would drop, not increase, according to an outside report presented to him.

A White House spokesman, Frederick Jones, declined to discuss the report. But, according to Wayne Kelley, a petroleum engineer who wrote the report and discussed it with Mr. Edson in November 2003, the message fell on deaf ears.

Surprise surprise. Meanwhile, over at the halls of injustice, Exxon-Mobil put their feet up on the table and casually reported revenue for the quarter which exceeded One billion dollars per day. Yes, that was while you were paying an extra dollar per gallon at the pumps. Have a nice winter.