Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Recall that the recent history of total liquid production looks like this (not zero scaled):
There was a sharp jump in total production last fall - October and Novermber particularly - but then it tentatively looks like it's been rather flat since December (subject to confirmation by further data and revisions). However, overall the world is at the highest level of liquid fuel ever (ie peak liquid fuel on a monthly basis is still not in the past).
The EIA releases a breakdown of total liquid into various components, and they are now up to November - thus we can see how the rise last fall breaks down (but not yet the flattening since Dec). Here's the total breakdown:
The "Crude plus Condensate" (C&C) is unambiguously oil - hydrocarbon liquids coming out of the ground. The natural gas liquids is molecules larger than methane that come out in the gas stream (ethane, propane, butane, etc). These aren't exactly oil, but are substitutable to some degree as petrochemical feedstocks. Then the "Other Liquids" is mostly biofuels. Refinery gains is volume gains in the refinery from cracking heavy oils down to lighter fluids. In any case, the important point is that "crude plus condensate" is pretty much flat since 2005, with the gain in total liquids over that time mainly coming from natural gas liquids and biofuels:
Here the C&C is on the right scale, while all the rest are on the left scale (so we can see the changes more easily). The two scales are shifted, but the units are the same size visually (so equal sized absolute changes all look the same).
It looks like the gain last fall was mostly coming from the C&C line, with some assist from natural gas liquids. However, C&C has not yet recovered to the pre-Libya level.