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fossil fuel reserves

Estimates of "fossil fuel reserves" do not, contrary to popular misconceptions, actually represent the amount of fossil fuel "in the ground." Rather it represents some quantity that is believed to exist based on complex formulae based on geomorphology and seismology techniques under the complete control of the oilcos.

Shell Oil was recently shaken by revelations about its oil reserve numbers that cost several executive positions.

Furthermore, even the official and "correctly calculated" number reflects only the amount believed to be "accessible" based on a complex set of assumptions about prices that change every time the oil price changes.

There is, worst of all, no estimate of the energy cost of oil extraction that even attempts to determine whether the entire process of training people in professions that find, move and refine oil, building the infrastructural capital equipment and the instructional capital techniques, then actually exploring for it and extracting it, moving and protecting it, refining it, and delivering it to those who pay its market price (not the same as its full cost accounting including all factors just listed), actually pays off in terms of the massive energy subsidy involved. As with fission there is so much up-front investment in achieving the flow of energy that it is simply impossible to determine if seeking and extracting oil is actually a process that pays off in raw energy terms.

When the unsolved problems of - most critically - climate change and - inevitably - Peak Oil are considered, a valid approach is to ignore the fossil fuel reserves as any issue at all.