Monday, January 3, 2011

Response of World Oil Production to Increasing Prices

In “Commentary : Will 2011 be a return to 2008 ?”Peak Oil Review. 12 / 20 / 2010,
Gail Tverberg considered Non-OPEC and OPEC oil production over the period 2001-2010 and provided continuous traces of production as a function of oil price (See the
attached). Some interesting trends emerge.
Non-OPEC oil production is largely determined by resource/reserves, as opposed to politics and management. The Non-OPEC production response to oil prices above
$50 is essentially flat, which indicatives that Non-OPEC production could not be
expanded, primarily because of resource/reserves limitations. Thus, the Non-OPEC trace belies the belief of some economists that higher prices always provides a production increase in widgets & commodities. The data provides a strong indicator that Non-OPEC oil production is near its maximum, because price elasticity is essentially zero over the indicated time period. Phenomenologically, oil production increases are just offsetting production declines.
The modest response of OPEC production is not easy to interpret, because OPEC is a cartel. Above the $50 range OPEC adjusted its excess capacity, and the cartel manipulated oil prices to a degree. Nevertheless, their production control did not have a very large overall impact on OPEC production.

Conclusion: Over the past decade increased oil prices did not materially
increase oil production.
R.L. Hirsch. December 23, 2010.

Dr Jeremy Gilbert retired chief of BP comments on Peak Oil

Peak Oil is not a major discussion topic right now.  The media and most people are concerned about other actual or potential crises, mainly economic, and they feel that action on the immediate is more urgent than the need to worry about energy supplies.  There is a wider acceptance of the future world oil problem in Europe than in the US; certainly there are a number of EU politicians who are firm believers and who use the term 'peak oil' freely in speeches, without apparently feeling the need to provide justification and without provoking irrational responses.

The world spare oil production capacity discussion is causing some confusion.  People who have never spent time in an oil field have difficulty understanding how there can be so much uncertainty about companies' and countries' production capacity.  Most of them are probably unaware that there is even quite a lot of uncertainty about individual producing units' actual production! 

I believe that the spare production capacity numbers that are generally quoted are grossly overstated and fail to recognize the practical problems associated with opening up wells or production facilities that have been closed-in for long periods.  Such operations tend to be a lot more fraught than anticipated - perforations have become blocked; valves are stuck; lines are gas-locked, waxed or asphaltene-choked.  All of these problems can be fixed, but they take time and they take people, and there are rarely spare people sitting around an oil-field just waiting for the order to bring production back up.  It takes time, much more time than most estimates suggest.

Dr. Jeremy Gilbert, retired BP Chief Petroleum Engineer.  December 20, 2010.

Robert Hirsch is interviewed by Carl Etnier on Peak Oil

Over the holidays Robert Hirsch was interviewed by Carl Etnier for WDEV Radio Vermont in Montpelier. Listen to the interview here.

The peak oil crisis: 2011 – a pivotal year? by Tom Whipple

Interesting new article by Tom Whipple.