Wednesday, September 8, 2010

North Sea Oil Declines Continuing

After looking at US data for a couple of days, I was curious whether the other poster-children for the idea that post-peak declines are inexorable were also showing production up-ticks.  The above is the EIA monthly data for the North Sea (through May of this year, in thousands of barrels/day).  In the mid 2000s, the North Sea was the principal evidence for the idea that "modern oilfield practices cause dramatic declines post-peak".

As you can see, declines are definitely continuing and have not been arrested by relatively high prices since 2000.  (For more background, see this Euan Mearns piece from last year at TOD).

Looking a little deeper, and noting that the data above have clear seasonality, here's the average percentage decline from 12 months earlier.

Although things were looking a little better, or at least getting worse more slowly, for a while there in the late aughties, the decline rate has now clearly gone back over 5% again.  Clearly, this is a rather strong piece of evidence for the idea that "Post Peak Declines are Geologically Determined".

So if we were to keep score, that's Geological Determinism: 1; Prices: 1, so far.


Lars-Eric Bjerke said...


Your conclusions are supported by M Hööks Doc thesis ( ) which will be defended on Sep 24, 2010 and says:
“Over 60% of the global crude oil production is derived from only around 330 giant oilfields, where many of them are becoming increasingly mature. The annual decline in existing oil production has been determined to be around 6% and it is unrealistic that this will be offset by new field developments, additional discoveries or unconventional oil. This implies that the peak of the oil age is here.”

rks said...

Conventional oil comes out mostly under its own pressure with good EROEI. But now that the oil price has decoupled from energy prices we can increasingly look at fields with increasingly worse EROEI. Of course the decoupling also means that everybody who can is moving off oil to electricity or natural gas. So demand is also being increasingly reduced. Anyway I've talked myself into believing that coming off oil can be managed. There is time to get to a nuclear powered future despite the efforts of the wind and natural gas industries to prevent that.