|Primary Kuwaiti oil and gas fields. Burgan is the second-largest field in the world. Click to enlarge.(Source: IEA)|
Kuwait’s Greater Burgan oil field, the second largest in the world behind Saudi Arabia’s giant Ghawar, apparently has hit peak production, according to Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) chairman and managing director Farouk Al Zanki as reported to Bloomberg.
According to Al Zanki, KOC engineers had tried to push the field’s output to 1.9 million barrels per day, but the field has hit a maximum of 1.7 million barrels per day. This could put a medium-sized spanner in the works for oil forecasts. The International Energy Agency, for example, has projected Burgan output to continue to increase at a slower rate to a peak of 1.64 million barrels per day in 2020 with the then-subsequent slow decline.
However, it is surely a landmark moment when the world’s second largest oil field begins to run dry. For Burgan has been pumping oil for almost 60 years and accounts for more than half of Kuwait’s proven oil reserves. This is also not what forecasters are currently assuming. (AMEinfo)
Peak production represents that point at which 50% of the resource has been produced, at which point production begins to decline and production costs begin to rise.
Burgan, which began production in 1946, has produced a cumulative 29.1 billion barrels through the end of 2004, according to the IEA.
By pushing harder to raise production levels more quickly, KOC may have not only accelerated the advent of peak, but possibly damaged the field. Once a field reaches peak, production may drop sharply, as in the Omani field Yibal. (Earlier post.)
Kuwait is in the process of considering a major new program called Project Kuwait—a 20-year project designed to increase the country’s oil production to 3 million barrels per day by 2010, 3.5 mbpd by 2015 and 4 mbpd by 2020.
The project would allow the first significant participation by international oil companies in Kuwait’s upstream sector since the country nationalized oil production (producing the Kuwait Oil Company) in 1975.
The fields affected by this would be the smaller, northern fields, from which Kuwait hopes to double production to approximately 1 million barrels per day by 2010.
Ironically, Burgan, the “crown jewel”, is “to remain strictly off-limits to foreign interests.”
And as noted in the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2005:
KOC does not want to risk reducing ultimate recovery in the Burgan field by increasing its production too quickly, so will rely on newer field to meet its targets.
The Oil Drum: Burgan and the Other Fields in Kuwait
- International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook 2005
- Twilight in the Desert, Matthew Simmons