ECED 6190: Energy Systems Analysis
Report 1: Analysis of fossil energy supplies
In 2007, the world consumed the equivalent of 12 billion tonnes of oil (about 88 billion barrels),
80% of which was supplied by from three sources: oil (34.0%), coal (26.5%), and natural gas
(20.9%) (IEA, 2009). Relying so heavily on only three primary energy sources has a number of
implications, including long-term environmental impacts and questions regarding the security
of supply. This report is to examine the past, present, and possible futures of each of the fossil
energy sources by considering both production and reserves. The purpose of this report is
twofold, first to introduce some basic energy analysis techniques and data sources, and second,
to show where the majority of the world’s primary energy supply comes from today, its
vulnerabilities, and where it may come from in the future.
Questions to consider
List the top ten producing countries in 2008 (for each fossil energy source). What percent of
world production does each country represent? Which countries, if any, appear on more than
one list? How does this list compare with lists of the top ten producers in 1968, 1978, 1988,
and 1998? Have these numbers changed? If so, why?
Compare the number of producing countries in 1965 with the number of producing countries in
2008—what has happened? Which of these countries are OPEC members? Has an OPEC
member ever left the organization? Have new members joined OPEC? Which of these
countries are members of the OECD?
List the top ten countries with the largest reserves in 1980, 1988, 1998, and 2008: what has
happened to the reserves of these countries over this time? Have any countries left the top
ten? If so, which countries have replaced them? Why should reserves change over time? Why
do the reserves of some countries never seem to decline? Why do some increase?
Is there a relationship between reserves and production? For example, does having a larger
reserve mean more production? What is meant by the “R/P” or “reserve-to-production” ratio?
Which countries have the highest R/P ratio? The lowest? In the 1950s and 1960s, Canada’s
NEB required Canada to maintain a 30 year R/P ratio for natural gas before exports could take
place (Laxer, 2008); has Canada maintained this R/P level for any of its fossil energy sources?
Using the world’s total reserves and total production in 2008, roughly how many years of
supply of each fossil fuel does the world have? Why is this number misleading?
R/P is a “snapshot” of a specific year and may not change that greatly over time. Can this mask
problems? For example, does a high R/P mean a large reserve?
Another school of thought argues that changes in production are a better indicator of future
supplies than the R/P ratio. Look at the production of the world’s top 20 producers; how many
have reached their maximum production and what year did this occur in? As countries deplete
their reserves and their production falls, which countries are expected to fill the gap? Where
are these countries located? If production continues to fall at present rates in the world’s
producing nations, estimate what the shortfall will be over the next 20 years compared to
Where are the major sources of fossil fuels expected to be found in the future? What are the
expected reserve sizes? How do these quantities compare with existing reserves? What levels
of production will be required to meet today’s production?
Please answer the questions raised in the previous section. Your answers should be supported
by an analysis or discussion of the data. When answering the questions, please try to organize
them in a coherent fashion. Remember that graphs and charts can simplify conveying this
Assigned: 22 January 2010
Due: 12 February 2010 (start of class)
Most of the questions on production and reserves can be answered by obtaining a copy of the
most recent BP Statistical Review of World Energy,1 while future projections of world fossil fuel
supply is available from the U.S. EIA,2 and the International Energy Agency also has data on
fossil fuels, but their main focus is on oil supply.3 The NationMaster website has useful data on
a variety of topics that might be applicable to this report.4 Future energy supply can be found
with the EIA, IEA, as well as the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), although some of their
projections have been subject to considerable controversy over the past decade.5
Much of the available data pertains to crude oil (given its importance, this should not be too
surprising) and to a lesser extent, natural gas; coal data is harder to obtain (why this is should
become apparent as you answer the questions). Some questions may be difficult to answer
because of the lack of data; if this happens, simply explain why this appears to be the case.
Finally, if you have any questions or comments regarding this report or its requirements, please
feel free to contact me.
IEA. 2009. Key World Energy Statistics 2009. Paris : International Energy Agency, 2009.
Laxer, Gordon. 2008. Freezing in the Dark: Why Canada Needs Strategic Petroleum Reserves.
Edmonton and Ottawa : Parkland Institute and Polaris Institute, 2008.