And the oil companies know it, apparently:

Current estimates suggest there are 1,200 billion barrels of proven global reserves, but the industry's internal figures suggest this amounts to less than half of what actually exists. The misconception has helped boost oil prices to an all-time high, sending jitters through the market and prompting calls for oil-producing nations to increase supply to push down costs.

And the bad news is:

"By underestimating proven oil reserves we have been lulled into a false sense of security in terms of environmental issues, because it suggests we will have to find alternatives to fossil fuels in a few decades," said Dr Richard Pike, [a former oil industry man who is now chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry]. "We should not be surprised if oil dominates well into the twenty-second century. It highlights a major error in energy and environmental planning – we are dramatically underestimating the challenge facing us," he said.

 

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