Monday, August 20, 2012

Trend in Global Crude and Condensate Production

The EIA produces a breakdown of their version of the global liquid fuel numbers into components - it's very useful to understand how the different parts contribute to the whole.  This chart shows the four streams since 1995 and through April 2012:

Here crude and condensate (liquid hydrocarbons coming out of the ground) are on the right scale.  The others are all on the left scale: NGPL (ethane-to-butane from natural gas), other liquids (mainly biofuels), and refinery gains (volume gains when heavier oils are cracked to lighter species).

For a long time, even though the overall liquid fuels have been growing slowly in the post 2005 era, the crude and condensate line was not - indicating traditional oil was on a level - if bumpy - plateau.  However, the bump up in supply in the early part of 2012 has changed this: now the C&C line has an upward tilt:

The trend is only 130kbd/year - less than 0.2%/yr - but it is an upward slope.  Thus it seems we have likely not yet reached peak oil for any reasonable definition of "oil".  However, oil supply since 2005 has been growing far slower than it traditionally did, which is why oil prices remain much higher than they were in the 1980s and 1990s.  In particular, peak oil consumption in the western world has likely been and gone.


dr2chase said...

It would seem that the difference between peak oil as defined by Hubbert and what we are experiencing now is mostly related to the cost of alternatives. Decades ago, yields declined because it was cheaper to drill a new hole somewhere else than it was to take drastic measures to recover oil. Now, we're running short of new "somewhere else's", the price rises, and it now makes economic sense to try lots harder to get oil out of the ground, including from old fields previously regarded as unprofitable.

We've also had decades for the drastic measures to get cheaper. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, grad students in applied math were doing numerical simulations of steam injection on computers with 4 Million Bytes of memory (I feel like Dr. Evil). Continuous well logging was accomplished with pressure pulses in the drilling mud. That's all a lot easier now.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Given the past rate of change vs this 7 year rate of change, or a small change in starting point this level of rate of change might just be noise. Or not.

Still, the conclusion for the West & Japan, that they have seen peek consumption, is likely a foregone conclusion.

Peter Vesborg said...

Looking at the C+C graph I am not so sure that there is a (statistically significant) upward slope - even taking the data from the most recent year into account.

If you make a statistical test against a H0 hypothesis of flat production (at approx 73.5 Mbpd) I doubt you can reject this H0 with any reasonable confidence?

Stuart Staniford said...

Peter (and Greg): the question of statistical significance is complicated because the data are dominated by large scale features that represent global events - the recession in 2008, the loss of Libyan production in 2011, etc. There are only a handful of these events so in some sense the number of degrees of freedom in the dataset is much smaller than the ninety odd months' worth of data. Given that, the trend is likely not statistically significant and that represents the fact that we don't know what the next big global trend in oil supply will be - loss of Iranian production, further big upsurge in US production, global recession due to financial crisis in Europe, etc - all are possible, none are certain.

Antonio Gallo said...

You have plotted conventional and non conventional crude oil together, but you should plot conventional crude oil. For example, Canada produces about 1.6Mb/d of non-conventional oil (tar sands), Venezuela 1Mb/d (heavy oil) and USA 1Mb/d (tight oil). Total: about 3.5Mb/d of non-conventional crude oil. So conventional oil should be about 72Mb/d. It has peaked in 2006. Non-conventional oil won't peak in this decade. Total liquids production will peak in this decade but not because of tar sands or heavy oil, it will peak because of the decline of conventional oil. So the important thing is the conventional oil and the way it will bring the whole production down. Conventional oil is the only product that will peak during this decade. Unfortunately the EIA doesn't give the value of the conventional oil production. I think the best way to plot the production is the one chosen by Jean Laherrère at this link: (page 18), where conventional and non conventional oil are drawn separately