Skeptics a plenty have long not trusted Saudi Arabia - or other OPEC members, for that matter - for their subterfuge data, that is, not openly revealing hard data to back reserve claims. "If Saudi Arabia really has 262 bb of oil," they say, "why are they so ambiguous about revealing their data; why don't they cough up proof if they really have oceans of black goo?"
While surreptitious statistics are fair to question, America's own production statistics, Rapier indicates, haven't exactly mirrored its reserve estimates. Robert goes into detail,
In 1982, U.S. reserves were 27.858 billion barrels. In 2005, U.S. reserves were 21.757 billion barrels. So we drew down our reserves by 6 billion barrels. Imagine my shock to discover our production over that time period. What would you guess? Six billion barrels? Ten? In fact, oil production from these reserves since 1982 totals 56.9 billion barrels! Amazingly, in the past 24 years we have produced 57 billion barrels of oil and pulled our reserves down by only 6 billion barrels. That seems incredible, but it appears that this is what has happened.
Amazing, isn't it? From 1982 to 2005, the US managed to produce 56.9 billion barrels of oil, despite only "using" 6 billion barrels of official reserves. We had over 50 bb sitting under our dirt we didn't know about.
Considering Saudi Arabia has additional fields in development, more offshore fields in its grasp (including Safaniya, the world's largest), and considering America's own "oil miracle" derived from 27.8 bb of official reserves, the concept of Saudi (and OPEC in general) still loaded with plenty of oil doesn't seem so far fetch. While it's possible Saudi Arabia doesn't possess 262 bb, my wager says its reserves are a lot higher than Jeffrey Brown's guesstimate of 70 bb.