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Major Investment Needed to Maintain Current Energy Production, say Analysts - 2003-11-17

The International Energy Agency, a multilateral research organization based in Paris, says the world oil and gas industry will require $4 trillion of investment during the next three decades to maintain current levels of production.

The IEA calls its report on energy investment a wake-up call for governments. A central conclusion is that while energy demand worldwide will grow by 67 percent in coming decades, supplies are unlikely to rise at the same pace. The result could be much higher energy prices and economic slowdown.

The IEA says foreign direct investment is critical to boosting oil and gas production. At present it says 65 percent of world oil production is off-limits to foreign investment. It says China, Russia, and Iran do not encourage foreign investment in their oil and gas sectors, while Kuwait, Mexico and Saudi Arabia are closed to foreign investors.

In the case of Mexico, IEA chief Claude Mandil says $77 billion of investment is needed just to maintain current oil production. The Mexican gas industry, he says, requires nearly as much investment.

"Gas sector investment in Mexico will total $64 billion - $2.1 billion per year," he said. "Seventy percent of that investment will be required in exploration and development. And foreign investment will be required in Mexico in order to attract this [amount of capital]."

Mr. Mandil spoke at an energy forum organized last week by Washington's Center for International and Strategic Studies.

Mexico's reformist president Vincente Fox has been trying without much success to streamline the country's state-owned oil company and overturn a decades-old ban on foreign investment in the oil and gas sector. Mexico, which does not belong to OPEC, produces more than three million barrels of oil per day and half of its production is exported, most to the United States.