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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.




did he also some research on norway oil fields with URR at 70%?

i think he didn't

Mark R. W. Jr.

Not to worry; with so many options to use (biofuels, EVs, hydrogen, CNG, etc.), peak oil will not turn into Doomsday.



But it won't be a walk in the park, either.


Oil will gradually get more expensive, which will open up marginal oil fields, remote regions, oil sand, oil shale, and alternatives like GTL, CTL, BTL, electricity, and simple conservation.

Abrupt oil shocks due to political instability worry me more.


When you consider all the NG they will use to get oil out of tar sands and shale, I wonder why we do not take less drastic steps, like using less and save some for later.


I remember Walter Cronkite standing before a graph that showned world oil demand exceeding world oil production in the 1980's. This show aired during the oil shortage of 1973. Whenever this occurs, oil consumption will stop rising, being limited to the avail supply, and the price will rise due to unmet demand. Like a child in the back seat, I say, "are we there yet?" And like an adult in the front seat I answer, "not yet." But the signposts say we are close, yet we are not building nukes and battery production facilities now. Why? Because we do not actually believe we are not going to have all the gas we need. And so the power of myth propels us into dangerious seas without enough lifeboats. Cheers



Humankind produced universal efficiency measure 3 thousand years ago. It is called money. Currently price of Canadian oil sand oil is about 25 US$ per barrel. Lousy compared to about 5 $ per barrel for oil extracted in Saudi Arabia, but less than half what all of us are paying to get our SUV running.


There are no readily available substitutes for crude oil pumped out of the ground. Shale oil, tar sands, EV's ethanol and biodiesel all have a place but all of them are either:
1/ Too energy intensive to produce in the quantities needed to replace our current reserves. The rate of return on energy invested is marginal at best.
2/ Have disastrous environmental consequences
3/ Are impossible to scale up to the levels of required production.
4/ Can only perform part of the task currently performed by cheap oil.
We don't understand our level of dependence on oil and oil related products. Agricultural fertilisers, pharmaceuticals and plastics all rely on oil as a feedstock. We need to act now in energy efficiency, transforming the transport sector and seeking out some alternatives. All this will help but in the end we have to 'power down'and live a less energy intensive lifestyle. I don't mean becoming Amish but simply living within our means.


The phrase, "I will do it if you will do it" comes to mind. There are some that will buy Prius because it makes sense to them and they care. Others would feel like they are constrained to having to buy small cars and would complain about big government telling them what to do. Until we get a large majority of people saying that a cohesive policy is the right thing to do, we will probably not have much action that makes enough of a difference.


I think the reaction to this study is interesting. I feel like there is no political impetus to do anything to prepare.

It doesn't really matter when peak oil is, assuming it is in the next 20-30 years. It doesn't really matter whether the oceans rise 1 foot or 20 feet in the next 100 years. In the most optimistic scenarios, it is still prudent to start changing course now!

It is a shame that government represents big business not the people!


I have thought that using less fossil fuel is its own reward. Less air pollution, less dependence on foreign oil...and so on. Other benefits come with this as well, which makes it even a better deal. I do not buy into the idea that it would be bad for the economy. Quite the opposite, I think a new course of action could be of benefit for the economy. More diversity and more good jobs in new clean technologies would be a good thing for everyone..maybe even the capital intensive oil companies.


Well it is very simple really:

Stage 1: We stick our hads in the sand and carry on as usual. I'll have a couple of V8s to go. Few hearings here and there about greedy oil companies to placate the masses.

Stage 2: Price at the pump jumps and doesn't come back down. Everyone panics, economy tanks, depression, maybe a couple of wars,... Ugly.

Stage 3: Adjusted expectations. No more flying for vacation and such. V8 in museums. Frantic R&D to switch to electricity based economy. Nukes popping up like mushrooms after rain.

Stan Peterson

Me and Al GOREgoyle ask you "What is this "we" must power down and live a more frugal lifestyle?

Why don't you do it; so I and Al don't have to... That's what he says, and in this case, I agree with him about that...

San Fran Nan will sacrifice by not complaining that her government furnished Boeing 757 shouldn't be upgraded to an Airbus 380, mega-plane. Bill Gates, the richest man in the world only flies the Gulfstream V that he pays for himself, but that wasn't good enough for the San Francisco Global Warming Worrier. See she cares too...


Stan: what the H.E. double tooth picks are you talking about?


A former Clinton adviser was just on CSPAN saying that Brazil has created 500,000 jobs from the ethanol industry and plans to create 1 million more over the next decade. If just ethanol can create than many jobs, imagine what economic stimulus wind, solar, tidal, wave, geothermal and other renewable energy industries can create in countries around the world in the years to come.



It's regrettable that Al Gore doesn't appear to be "walking the talk". Personally,I don't assume to ask others to do what I'm not doing myself. I am taking steps to "power down". I commute by bicycle and all up cycle about 5000km per year for this and other tasks. I have made the simple switch from electric storage hot water service to 5 star continuous flow gas. This alone has cut our non-transport household GHG emissions by about half. Not perfect, but at least it's a start.
Your approach is the reason why we do need government regulation. The market cannot respond to anything other than immediate threats and individuals may choose not to "do the right thing". Regulation needs to be well-directed to be effective but we would be stupid to reject it out of hand. Frankly I don't understand the knee jerk reaction of some Americans to any form of intervention in the market.
I hope I have understood what you were getting at. If you're not interested in change to business as usual then why bother posting on Green Car Congress?


To the editor: how is this different from the estimates of Chevron, BP, Shell etc that all expect a peak in this same timeframe? That is, what's new here? Actually, the emphasis on giants sounds a lot like Matt Simmons' Twilight in the Desert, though perhaps this has a more global outlook than Simmons.

How is this better than the estimates of Kenneth Deffeyes, Colin Campbell, Sheik Bakhtiari, who all expect a peak right about now (+/- a few years)? That is, is there anything here to trust this work more than theirs?


Considering that the Saudis have a lot of oil and have been very secretive about their reserves, I would be cautious about saying peak oil is a ways away. They have been pumping huge quantities for a long time and the world's demand is growing even faster. Look at today's market with China and Indian wanting more. All it takes is Iran threatening and the futures market surges. This is one sign of a very sensitive world oil situation.


Cidi, it's another cut at the same problem, but one that focused on building a detailed a field-by-field database for the giants.

Re: Campbell, "Some information contained in the databases come from private communication with Jean Laherrère and Colin Campbell..."

"Our group, Uppsala Hydrocarbon Depletion Study Group (UHDSG), has now grown and it includes present members and a former member. Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrère deserves credit for supplying useful information, good ideas and fantastic stories from their experience of the

People at the Uppsala have been involved with Campbell for some time.


OK, fair enough. I was under the impression that the Chevron, BP, ASPO etc reports were field-by-field.

One thing that bothers me is that these studies are all still gross flows. There appears to be no consideration for quality of the oil produced and difficulty of production. Technology can do wonderful things, but the fact remains that EROEI was 100:1 or more in the good old days and is barely 8-10 for new production. If it drops much more than that that will significantly affect the net production.


Tar sands energy return may be much lower than 10 to 1. We are reaching a point where using oil for all transport needs starts to look less attractive. When other companies can enter the mix and offer alternatives, we might just see a shift.

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