Thursday, May 5, 2011

Final Crude and Condensate Stats show New Highs

Back in December, when I was first noting that total liquid fuel production was making new highs, many commenters objected vigorously to my paying attention to the full liquid fuel series because they include biofuels, "natural gas liquids" like ethane and propane that aren't really liquid, syncrude from tar sands and other things that are debatable as "oil".

A more conservative definition is to look at the EIA's data for crude and condensate (here, and then here for data before 2007).  Crude is definitely "oil", and condensate is the stuff that is gaseous under the conditions of temperature and pressure down in the reservoir, but liquid at room temperature and pressure.  So that's also reasonable to consider as "oil".

The problem has always been that this data is only available at considerable lag from some of the total liquids series.  Thus some people maintained that, unlike the total fuels, crude and condensate would not rise above the prior peak. At the time there was no way to say for sure. However, the above graph shows the data through January 2011, and crude and condensate clearly rises above the prior peak in 2008 (something already noted by Gail the Actuary, but I wanted to post a graph that isn't zero-scaled to better shows the changes, and I definitely don't endorse Gail's production forecasts).  In any case, those insisting that oil production peaked in 2008 and could now only decline were wrong.

I think the view that we have been on a bumpy plateau since late 2004 remains a reasonable one, but clearly the latest bump is the biggest, and I think it's hard to say for sure that we won't bump higher again in the future.  Certainly, the world is struggling to raise production freely enough to support global economic growth.

Alas, we will never know what happens to the rest of the series since the EIA is cancelling it due to budget cuts.


nulinegvgv said...

Can you think of any other reason they would cancel this other than budget cuts? I don't want to go all conspiratorial on your or anything, I'm just sayin'...

KLR said...

It was suggested on another forum that the bump up on C+C was courtesy of the "+C," that condensates that belong in the NGL category were creating an artificial inflation of the C+C figure. Not really an informed opinion but an idea worthy of consideration - perhaps some double counting is going on internationally? I assume rigorous definitions of each are used in the OECD, but the rest of the world is, as usual, up for grabs.

Or maybe some of this is courtesy of all the shale gas drilling, where a bit of natural gasoline is tapped. Would be helpful if someone with solid expertise like Art Berman could pursue this avenue, assuming there's anything to it in the first place.

We are unquestionably producing more NGLs etc as a % of all liquids as time goes by - it was 6.92% in 1980 and 14.20% in 2009. The IEA tracks OPEC crude-only and "NGLs," the latter were 9.02% of the total in 1994 and 13.09% in 2008; contrast EIA's value of 10.91% for the world in 1994.

bordoe said...

nulinegvgv> Can you think of any other reason they would cancel this other than budget cuts?


No. Government's just too stupid these days.

The data is collected by other organizations (usually for a fee) so it shouldnt hinder those with ability to pay.

But it does take away 'another set of eyes' and it's saving peanuts.

Stupidity explains a lot.

At least, that's my take.

Alexander Ac said...

Thats why the oil prices started to crash :-) what to do with all that (still hellishly cheap) crude oil?

Drowning in oil indeed ;-)



David L. said...

Caution: See the EIA-JODI divergence where EIA shows increasing production, while JODI is flat.

The JODI-EIA Divergence
Especially Fig. 8 showing 3 million bbl/d divergence.

The EIA - JODI divergence Part 2