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Fossil Fuels

Volume 406: debated on Tuesday 10 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate the Government have made of the global economically recoverable reserves of fossil fuels. [117830]

Estimates of economically recoverable reserves of fossil fuels are inevitably uncertain since they depend on energy prices, technical and economic progress and the extent of yet-to-find reserves. With that caveat, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published reserves estimates in their World Energy Outlook 2002 publication. The IEA estimated that proven global reserves (discovered and expected to economically producible) of conventional crude oil and natural gas liquids are 959 billion barrels. In addition, the IEA estimated undiscovered resources (thought to exist and expected to become economically recoverable) of conventional crude oil and natural gas liquids to be 939 billion barrels and recoverable non-conventional reserves, such as oil shales, to be 580 billion barrels. Based on US Geological Survey data, the World Energy Outlook notes that remaining gas resources, including proven reserves, reserve growth (defined as the increase in known volumes that commonly occur as gas fields are developed and produced) and undiscovered resources, were estimated to be 386 trillion cubic metres. The LEA also estimate economically recoverable coal reserves to be close to one trillion tonnes.