Recall that the recent history of global liquid fuel production looks as follows:
The peak of monthly production was in July 2008. The trough in the depths of the global recession depends on which series one looks at, but I have been examining the recovery from May 2009 onward. And at this point, the latest figures show us about 1.3mbd to 1.4mbd (mbd = millions of barrels/day) away from reaching the July 2008 peak again.
A few days back, I analyzed the composition of the recovery from May 2009 to the most recent figures (based on IEA OMR data). That showed the recovery coming from a variety of countries, but with two-thirds of it coming from non-OPEC countries, and only about 0.7mbd coming from OPEC:
This morning, I looked correspondingly at the composition of the decline from July 2008 to May 2009:
As you can see, in contrast to the recovery composition, the decline came almost entirely from OPEC's voluntary cutback in the fall of 2008, with about 3.3mbd of reduction from OPEC, and less than 0.2mbd of reduction in non-OPEC production.
Given that OPEC has only restored about 0.7 out of 3.3mbd of cutbacks, about 2.6mbd of previously demonstrated capacity remains unused. This is about twice as large as the 1.3mbd or so distance from where production is now to the July 2008 peak level.
Therefore, if the global economic recovery continues, and in particular if OPEC is willing to restore their production cuts at prices that don't derail that recovery, then it appears likely that the July 2008 liquid fuel production level will be exceeded.
This is true even if one assumes nothing about Iraqi production increases.