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World crude production 2013 without shale oil is back to 2005 levels

World crude production 2013 without shale oil is back to 2005 levels.



– MARCH 13, 2014

Unnoticed by the mainstream media, US shale oil covers up a recent decline of crude oil production of 1.5 mb/d  in the rest of world (using data up to Oct 2013). This means that without US shale oil the world would be in a deep oil crisis similar to the decline phase 2006/07  when oil prices went up. The decline comes from many countries but is also caused by fights over oil and oil-related issues in Iran, Libya and other countries which can be seen on TV every day.

Fig 1: World’s incremental crude oil production Oct 2013

Incremental production for each country is calculated as the difference between total production and the minimum production between Jan 2001 and Oct 2013. The sum of minima is the base production. Countries which had substantial changes in production appear as large areas in the graph. Russia supplied – quite reliably – the largest increment and the North Sea (UK and Norway) had the largest losses. Countries which feature prominently are Venezuela (low production in Jan 2003 due to a strike), Iraq (low production in April 2003 during the Iraq war), Libya (war in 2011), Iran (sanctions) and Saudi Arabia (production increase since 2002 and swing role)

Production is stacked from bottom as follows:

(1) countries with growing production: Kazachstan (recently flat), Russia (only +100 kb/d last year), Colombia (+60 kb/d), China (recently flat) and Canada (+200 kb/d syncrude from tarsands)

(2) Countries flat or in decline like UK and Norway

(3) countries which recently peaked: Brazil and Azerbaijan

Groups (1) to (3) peaked in Nov 2011 (dashed line) and declined by 1.2 mb/ since then

(4) OPEC countries with Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Libya

(5) US on top to see the impact of shale oil

Fig 2: US shale covers up recent decline in rest of world

The world without shale oil declined after a recent peak in Feb 2012.to an average of 73.4 mb/d in 2013, incidentally the same average seen for the whole period since 2005 when crude production was 73.6 mb/d

Fig 3: Annual crude oil production and US shale oil vs IAE’s WEO projections

The rest of world continues on a bumpy crude oil production plateau. Oil demand and supply projections of the International Energy Agency in 2004 and 2008 did not materialize. Only the 2010 WEO came close but only due to US shale oil which had not been predicted at the time to the extend it actually increased.

Let’s have a look at the main players in the upper part of Fig 1

Fig 4: Incremental crude production of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia and US

We can see that Saudi Arabia declined in 2006/07 (prices up), pumped more in the Oilympic peak year of 2008, (but not enough and prices skyrocketed), served as a (negative) swing producer during the financial crisis year of 2009 and stepped in (belatedly) when the war in Libya started and continued pumping at record levels when sanctions on Iran started. US shale oil has not brought down oil prices substantially and definitely the US does not act as swing producer. Most shale oil producers would go into receivership if they stopped pumping. Saudi Arabia apparently tries to compensate for Libyan and Iranian production losses but does not seem to reduce crude production to offset US shale oil. Iraq will have to return to OPEC’s quota system. It will be interesting to watch at which production level that will be agreed upon and whether Iraq will adhere to it. In any case, all ME oil producers need to balance their budgets as highlighted in this post:

14/8/2013    OPEC’s average fiscal break-even oil price increases by 7% in 2013

Fig 5: Middle East only.

Decline in Syria and Yemen was offset by increases in Kuwait, UEA and Qatar. Iraq could not offset Iran’s production drops.

Russia and FSU

Fig 6: Eurasia

Former FSU countries: Azerbaijan declines at 50 kb/d after its peak in 2010. Kazakhstan is flat since 2010.

Fig 7: Russian crude oil production growth is slowing

Russia, producing now at 10 mb/d, is still growing at around 100 kb/d but this growth rate is down from 2010 and 2012 years.

The IEA WEO 2013 writes: “Oil production in Russia is approaching the record levels of the Soviet era, but maintaining this trend will be difficult, given the need to combat declines at the giant western Siberian fields that currently produce the bulk of the country’s oil.”



Fig 8: The North Sea is in full decline


Fig 9: Incremental production in Africa

Irrespective of what is happening in Libya, Africa peaked.

Latin America

Fig 10: Latin America

Brazil seems to have peaked while Colombia slowly increased heavy oil production. Venezuela’s data appear sus as they have not been updated since Jan 2011


Since end 2010, the group of still growing countries (+1.2 mb/d) can’t offset decline elsewhere (-2.4 mb/d), giving a resulting decline of 1.2 mb/d or 400 kb/d p.a. This is mainly oil-geologically determined decline.

OPEC, which is usually called upon to provide for the difference between demand and non-OPEC production, has got its own problems (geopolitical feed-back loops caused by peaking oil production) and was not able to fill that gap. Global crude oil without US shale oil declined by 1.5 mb/d since its most recent peak in Feb 2012.


While the mainstream media lulls the public into believing that US shale oil is a revolution, peaking oil production in many countries eats like a cancer through the oil supply system. The big problem is that more oil dependent infrastructure is being built which will not be needed when US shale oil peaks and the underlying decline is revealed.

Checking In On Peak Oil – Chapelboro.com

Checking In On Peak Oil – Chapelboro.com.

By Jeff DannerJeff has worked in both the chemical and biotech industries and is the veteran of thousands of science debates at cocktail parties and holiday dinners across the nation. In his Common Science blog, Jeff aims to make technological and scientific concepts accessible to all.
Posted March 3, 2014 at 9:23 am

In last week’s column, The Case of the Missing Propane, I explained how the widespread use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of shale oil deposits since 2008 has led to a 30% increase in the production of crude petroleum in the United States. While that statistic makes for snappy headlines, it is not particularly meaningful to the overall world oil supply or the phenomenon known as Peak Oil.

If you are not familiar with Peak Oil, I published a column in June of 2011 called Peak Oil in Five Paragraphs or Less. Here are the key points:

• Peak Oil refers to the time at which we reach the global maximum rate of oil production, which is followed by decades of declining rates of production.
• Due to oil’s pivotal role as a transportation fuel and (as I explained in Everything Comes from Oil) the key raw material for most consumer goods, the global economy can only grow if oil supply continues to grow.
• In order to keep producing more and more oil, you must keep discovering more and more and more. This is not possible. Eventually you are exhausting oil fields at a rate faster than the new ones can be discovered.
• The global peak for conventional oil sources occurred in approximately 2005, requiring us to turn to unconventional sources such as shale oil and oil sands. These sources are expensive to exploit and will not last for very long.
• The economic disruptions cause by the impending oil supply constraints will be very challenging for the global community.

The graph below was the key feature of Peak Oil in Five Paragraphs or Less. This graph is pivotal to understanding both the history and economics of the last century as well as the challenges coming in the next; everyone should be familiar with it. Its peaks and valleys tell stories as varied and interesting as the growth of suburbia in the U.S. and the role of Saudi Arabia in the post World War II era. But I never see this graph in the papers. It’s not hard to understand. As you can see from the bars, the peak year for global oil discovery occurred in 1965, the year before I was born, and has been generally declining ever since. Due to extraordinary efforts by the oil companies, the rate of production has yet to start declining, but as those old fields continue to be exhausted, it will.


Beginning in 2007, you see a small, but temporary, increase in “discoveries” which corresponds to shale oils such as the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. I put discoveries in quotations because shale oil deposits have been known about for decades but were simply not counted as petroleum reserves due to their low quality. The oil sands in Alberta, for which the Keystone XL pipeline is intended, fall into this same low-grade category.

Before I show you some additional graphs (I love graphs), we need a brief aside on definitions and sources. The data I use below is from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and is, therefore, reliable for past data. Different sources define “oil” differently, which can cause confusion. Some, such as this column, restrict the definition of oil to crude petroleum – think gushers from old movies. Other sources add in liquids that are collected during natural gas refining – we discussed those last week – as well as biofuels, resulting in larger totals.

The graph below shows U.S. crude petroleum production in millions of barrels a day since 1980. From 1980 through 2008, there was a steady decline from 9 million to 5 million barrels a day. In 2008, fracking of shale oil began in earnest, which has increased U.S. petroleum production from a low of 5 million to 6.6 million barrels a day, an increase of 30%.

USA Oil Production

Extracting petroleum from shale formations is an expensive business. After you go through all the effort and expense to drill downward and then horizontally, and break up the rock below with high pressure fluids (fracking), the production from the well falls off by an average of 65% during the first year. Therefore, in order to keep production going, you’ve got to keep drilling and drilling and drilling. In 2011, 16,000 fracking wells were drilled in the U.S. In 2012, it was 19,000.

While doing the research for this column, I decided to have a look at the Bakken Shale Field formation, which spans the North Dakota-Montana border just south of Canada, on Google Earth. I could not get a nice looking picture for you, but it is somewhat fascinating to see. If you use the satellite map feature, follow the existing rural roads, then look for secondary dirt roads which lead to dirt rectangles. Each rectangle will contain a well with a pump on top, four tanks for collecting the oil, and some other equipment. You generally will not find any people or vehicles, because these units run automatically. As you pan around, you can find them by the hundreds.

The increase in petroleum production in the U.S. has not provided any meaningful relief from high gasoline prices, which remain steadfastly above $3.00 per gallon. There are two main reasons for this: petroleum is a global commodity (more on that below) and fracking is an expensive technique. Consider that in 2004, oil sold for about $40 per barrel. The break-even price for a barrel of oil produced from fracking is $80.

The graph below shows world crude petroleum production along with the same data I showed for the U.S. in the previous graph. As you can see, petroleum production in the U.S. is only a small fraction of the global total. Therefore, the 30% increase in U.S. production has only increased the global supply by two percent. A two percent increase in global supply, especially an expensive supply, is not sufficient to result in a reduction in U.S. fuel prices.

US and World Oil Production

So where does this leave us? Overall global supply of petroleum is being maintained near 76 million barrels a day based on the extraordinary efforts to extract unconventional oils. Sometime between now and 2025, the supply will begin to decline and cause social and economic dislocations. As we continue to exploit the unconventional sources during this time, carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere will grow from 400 to 450 parts per million, causing even more dramatic changes in our weather patterns and challenging our ability produce enough food for eight billion people. Dealing with these parallel challenges will be the defining features of the 21 century.

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