Monday, May 21, 2012

Crude and Condensate Reached New Highs in Jan

The EIA helpfully produces a breakdown of the global liquid fuel supply into components.  This allows us to distinguish change in the supply of "oil" - narrowly defined as crude oil plus condensates (hydrocarbons which come out of the ground as liquid) - from changes in other things (natural gas "liquids", most of which are actually gases like ethane, propane, and butane, ethanol, and refinery volume changes.

The above graph shows these four substreams - the crude and condensate (C&C) is on the right scale and the others on the left scale.  This approach is designed to make it easiest to compare changes.  The interesting news is that crude+ condensate, which has been pretty much plateaued since late 2004, has now made new highs.  So clearly "peak monthly oil" is not behind us.

At the same time, the data still seem to me to be consistent with the overall "peak oil moderate" worldview - that in 2005 we entered into a situation in which it became very difficult to raise oil production and that placed significant constraints on the global economy and made recessions more likely, but that the decline in global production will be slow and fears that this would lead to an abrupt collapse of the global economy were overblown (the "doomer" view).

At the moment, the plateau in C&C has a slight upward tilt and it's not possible to say declines in global oil production have begun:

Note that the upward slope to that line is not statistically significant (I only get p=0.2 even ignoring the autocorrelation).  So we are still on a flat plateau statistically speaking.

Finally, here is a more traditional stacked area graph showing how the non-oil parts of "liquid fuel" have allowed the latter to rise even as oil proper is essentially flat:


Alexander Ac said...

Stuart, can we somehow calculate the "net energy"? Since EROEI should be in decline, AFAIK,


Kenneth D. Worth said...

It was never my view, but the data would appear to still be consistent with a "horizontal drilling delaying the inevitable decline after which time it will be even more precipitous" type of scenario. Personally, I would have preferred to see some solid declines by now, so we could get on with the necessary adjustments.

KLR said...

Stuart's mostly ignored EROEI, I'd assume since it's endlessly mutable, hence mostly useless for any real analysis. You'd as well attempt to quantify how evil the world is.

I see that the STEO gives us 2.79 mb/d of spare capacity - rising to 3.50 mb/d in 2013, somehow. Maybe they're shorting the market?

This is from a 2009 high for SC of 3.93 mb/d. EIA have been ordered to produce this, also: The Availability and Price of Petroleum and Petroleum Products Produced in Countries Other Than Iran

Finally, current spare crude oil production capacity, while estimated to be higher than during the 2003 to 2008 period, is quite modest by historical standards, especially when measured as a percentage of global oil production and considered in the context of current geopolitical uncertainties, including, but not limited to, the situation in Iran. With the rise in total global unplanned production outages over the last three months and the likely increase in non-discretionary inventories controlled by Iran, global spare capacity in March and April was estimated to average 2.5 million bbl/d, roughly equal to the average level in January and February.

Oddly enough SC fairly crashed overnight in 2003, going from 5.43 to 1.92 in one year - a 3.51 mb/d loss. North Sea + Cantarell + Consumers Gone Wild at work, I guess.

Stuart Staniford said...

KLR - the reason I don't talk much about EROEI is not that I think it's useless as much as that I'm not aware of any blog-friendly way of estimating it for the main liquid fuels streams. As far as I know, there aren't any good stats on how much of the industry's output it consumes as input, and thus no basis for an independent input.

The concept does also have some limitations wrt peak oil in that we really only face a limitation with respect to liquid fuels with NG being rather more plentiful and coal facing no near-term constraint. Since EROEI mixes up all the different energy sources, it can fail to capture the important effects. For example, ethanol has truly terrible EROEI and yet a lot of it still gets made - because it's a way of converting cheap NG into more expensive liquids (in addition to government policy of course - but ethanol has at times been profitable even absent policy). And the real constraint on ethanol production is it's land usage (and thus effect on food prices) and yet land doesn't show up in the EROEI accounting at all...

kjmclark said...

Their definition of "crude oil" includes tar sands and oil from shale fracking as well: "3. Drip gases, and liquid hydrocarbons produced from tar sands, oil sands, gilsonite, and oil shale." (Gilsonite??)

It's too bad they don't break it down a little further, into "classic" crude in reservoir traps with water drive, crude that has to be manufactured, and crude from fracked shales.

buck smith said...

EROI is limited on the low side by the business acumen of the E&P companies and National Oil Companies. If EROI is very bad the E&Ps dont make money.

Robin Johnson's Economics Web Page said...

"At the moment, the plateau in C&C has a slight upward tilt.."

What's the price of WTI & Brent been doing recently?