Swedish Researcher Forecasts Peak Oil Between 2008 and 2018 Based on Analysis of Giant Field Production
|The higher-end standard case forecast. Click to enlarge.
A researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden has developed a forecast model for global oil production based heavily on a field-by-field analysis focusing on giant oil fields—a giant field being one which will ultimately produce more than 500 million barrels (0.5 Gb) of oil.
In his worst-case scenario, global oil production may peak next year; the best-case scenario indicates peaking in 2018.
Although giant fields represent only about one percent of all oil fields in the world, they account for more than 60% of total production. The trend is heading downward when it comes to new giant-field discoveries, both in terms of the number of fields and the volume of the fields located.
The first giant was discovered in Peru in 1868 and one of the latest was discovered in 2003 in the deep-water outside Brazil. The majority of the largest giant fields are found around the Persian Gulf—Saudi’s Ghawar being the largest in the world—and are more than 50 years old.
Fredrik Robelius developed a model based on historical production, the total exploitable reserves of the giant fields, and their rate of decline. The model assumes that oil fields have a constant rate of decline, which Robelius has verified by studying a number of giant oilfields where production has waned. His analysis shows that an annual rate of decline between 6 and 16% is reasonable.
|Global liquids production in million barrels per day (Mbpd) for all scenarios, with the best case scenario adjusted to fit an annual demand growth of 1.4%. Click to enlarge.
To be sure that the future production of a field will wind up inside the interval of the model, Robelius used both pessimistic and optimistic estimates. Then he combined the results from the model with field forecasts for deep-water production, new finds, oil sands in Canada, and heavy oil in Venezuela to construct his forecasts.
A comparison with oil production forecasts from the IEA and EIA reveals an extreme difference in future production levels. Production in IEAs reference case continues to increase to 2030, which is the last reported year, and at that time the level is 116 Mbpd. In the analysis by EIA, future oil production is projected to increase to a level of 123 Mbpd, which is reached in 2030. In contrast the most optimistic result, which is the demand adjusted best case scenario, from the analysis performed here shows a peak in 2018 at a level of 93 Mbpd. Although only speculative, the analysis of IEA and EIA might not fully integrate the role of the giant oil fields in future oil production.
Giant Oil Fields—The Highway to Oil: Giant Oil Fields and Their Importance for Future Oil Production; Robelius, Fredrik (2007)