Al-Husseini disagrees with this analysis, as he believes that Aramco's reserves are overstated by as much as 300 billion bbls of "speculative resources." He instead focuses on original proven reserves, oil that has already been produced or which is available for exploitation based on current technology. All parties estimate this amount to be approximately 360 billion bbls. In al-Husseini's view, once 50 percent depletion of original proven reserves has been reached and the 180 billion bbls threshold crossed, a slow but steady output decline will ensue and no amount of effort will be able to stop it. By al-Husseini's calculations, approximately 116 billion barrels of oil have been produced by Saudi Arabia, meaning only 64 billion barrels remain before reaching this crucial point of inflection. At 12 million b/d production, this inflection point will arrive in 14 years. Thus, while Aramco will likely be able to surpass 12 million b/d in the next decade, soon after reaching that threshold the company will have to expend maximum effort to simply fend off impending output declines. Al-Husseini believes that what will result is a plateau in total output that will last approximately 15 years, followed by decreasing output.
It's clear to me that he is just disputing the notion that Saudi has 700+ billion barrels of "reserves" claimed by the other SA talking head:
Abdallah al-Saif, current Aramco Senior Vice President for Exploration and Production, reported that Aramco has 716 billion barrels (bbls) of total reserves, of which 51 percent are recoverable.
The only thing of real interest here is that Al-Husseini distanced himself from "peak oil" while seeming to agree with it. But is was only a matter of time before someone would ask al-Husseini to confirm his views on this, and he indeed claims that he was misinterpreted.
He says he has no dispute with Aramco’s official reserves data, but disagrees with Mr. al-Saif’s projection for the future and with the diplomats’ characterization of its existing 716 billion barrels as “reserves”.
In fact, he says, that figure refers to “oil in place” which includes both recoverable and non-recoverable oil.
The kingdom’s “proven reserves”, the oil Saudi Aramco believes it can extract, are officially given as 260 billion barrels (Mr. al-Saif said the actual figure was probably more like 51% of the “oil in place” –- around 358 billion barrels).
Mr. al-Husseini says he has no problem with either Saudi Aramco’s official figures on current proven reserves or Mr. al-Saif’s estimate, but was simply making the point that to describe “oil in place” as reserves was to inflate the kingdom’s figures by several hundred billion barrels.
There is still much to be skeptical about with regards to the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia, and I am one of many who have questioned the claims of Saudi Aramco in light of their actions. For example, they always magically seem to "discover" as much oil as they produce each year such that their reserves never decrease. However, there is no bombshell in this particular wikileak in terms of how much oil they have left.