Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Iranian Oil Production Declines Further in April

Both IEA and OPEC detailed numbers for April oil production are now available.  The above shows the situation for Iran (not zero-scaled).  It appears that production is continuing to decline - down around 500kbd from the plateau in the mid-2000s, and down 300kbd from the post-great-recession plateau.  The rate of decline is accelerating.

If this continues (with more sanctions to bite in June/July), it would appear that Iran might have to become less intransigent in negotiations over its nuclear program.

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, production has eked out very small increases in the last few months and definitely seems to have established a new high a little above the 9.5mbd that appeared to be the practical ceiling on Saudi production in the 2000s.

Looking at Iranian and Saudi production side-by-side:

It appears that the Saudi increases are not quite offsetting the Iranian declines so far (though this is complicated by noting that the large increase to belatedly offset Libyan losses has not been removed as Libya has turned back on).


Doyu Shonin/Risa Bear said...

Any connection?


Stuart Staniford said...

Risa: it's hard to say. Flame seems to be fairly broadly seen across the Middle East - not just Iran - and thus seems likely to be the work of a western intelligence agency, but who knows which one.


Right now it appears to be an espionage toolkit rather than a direct disruption tool - but the process of understanding it has only just begun. Possibly there are modules that can be used for direct disruption. Whether this has had any effect on oil production is hard to say - there were cyber attacks on the oil infrastructure in April


but the Iranians claim they didn't affect production (but then I have no confidence at all in the integrity of Iranian official announcements). Tough to know at this point.

I think it's safe to say that the west is trying to interfere with Iran's oil production/exports in a variety of ways and is having some success. Hard to know how much to attribute to the different methods.