Peak Oil News: The Beginning of the Oil End Game

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Beginning of the Oil End Game

From The Wilderness

Three key facts are of overriding importance to world events today.

FACT ONE - If the actions - rather than the words - of the oil business' major players provide the best gauge of how they see the future, then ponder the following. Crude oil prices have doubled since 2001, but oil companies have increased their budgets for exploring new oil fields by only a small fraction. Likewise, U.S. refineries are working close to capacity, yet no new refinery has been constructed since 1976. And oil tankers are fully booked, but outdated ships are being decommissioned faster than new ones are being built.
- Mark Williams, Technology Review, February 2005

LONDON -- Major oil companies are replacing dwindling reserves by acquiring other oil companies instead of exploring for new fields, a strategic shift with implications for global oil supplies, investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston said in a report Monday.

Integrated oil companies are spending only 12% of their total capital expenditures on finding new oil fields, down from nearly a third in 1990, the report said. Integrated oil companies like U.S. super-major ExxonMobil Corp (XOM) have upstream oil exploration and pumping and downstream refining and marketing operations.
In addition, with the world's biggest oil companies convinced exploration is too costly and risky, the steady growth of the world's total oil reserves has fallen sharply, the bank said. Global oil reserves are being replaced at a rate of 1.2% a year in the last three years, compared to 2.3% over the last 20 years, even as oil demand growth is hitting new records with China and India becoming industrial powers, the bank said.
-- Dow Jones Newswire, January 17, 2005

FACT TWO - Let's forget about economic growth, how about just offsetting declines. If Mr. Raymond's curve reflects reality we would still have to find about 30 Gb/yr. How are we doing?
From http://www.ems.org/rls/2004/01/28/oil_supply_short.html we find the following:
The rate of major new oil field discoveries has fallen dramatically in recent years. [Global discovery peaked in the 1960s. Per capita energy production peaked in 1979. -Ed] There were 13 discoveries of over 500 million barrels in 2000, six in 2001 and just two in 2002, according to the industry analysts IHS Energy. For 2003, not a single new discovery over 500 million barrels has been reported. Key findings of a recent Petroleum Review report are:
Between 2003 and early 2007 some 8 million barrels/day of new capacity is expected to come on stream.

In 2005, 18 projects with a potential peak capacity of 3 million barrels a day are due to come on stream, slowing in 2006 with 11 new projects followed by 3 in 2007, and 3 in 2008 adding a cumulative 4 million barrels/day of potential new capacity at their peak.

It appears likely that from 2007, the volumes of new production will fall short of the need to replace lost capacity from depleting older fields.

Further confirming this trend, recent E&D results strongly support the expectation of a near term peak in oil production. The net present value of all discoveries for the 5 oil majors during 2001/2/3 was less than their exploration costs.
-- Murray Duffin, Energy Pulse, November 17, 2004


(These calculations were confirmed by the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre of the UK in November 2004 and by FTW's Dale Allen Pfeiffer's independent calculations in February of 2004. There was not a single discovery of a 500 Mb field in 2003 and - as far as we know (as of this writing) the same holds true for 2004. The world is currently consuming a billion barrels of oil every eleven and one half days.)

Fact Three -- Look at this imbalance: The average American consumes 25 barrels of oil a year. In China, the average is about 1.3 barrels per year; in India, less than one…

The challenge is huge. For China and India to reach just one-quarter of the level of US oil consumption, world output would have to rise by 44 percent. To get to half the US level, world production would need to nearly double. That's impossible. The world's oil reserves are finite. And the view is spreading that global oil output will soon peak.
-- The Christian Science Monitor, January 20, 2005

These three facts alone dictate a global mêlée over oil and that is in fact what is happening. It seems clear now that the world's major oil consuming nations have decided to position themselves to control as much oil as possible before the now certain 2007 cliff event. The first fact underscores a point FTW has been making for years now. Even if Peak Oil was some fabrication (hard to believe at this point), the world is behaving as though it were quite real and imminent. The fact that there is virtually no exploration or refinery construction means that the majors understand clearly that there is no more significant oil to find and their investments would never be paid off.

As the following maps disclose, events in just the last year reveal the building frenzy behind these conflicts which are threatening to escalate to military conflict soon. Sometimes a picture is worth more than a thousand words.


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