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When Will World Oil Production Peak?

When Will World Oil Production Peak? thumbnail

World Crude + Condensate production reached a new high in July, at least according to the EIA. C+C production was 76,531,000 barrels per day or 416,000 bp/d higher than the previous high in February 2012. But keep in mind that June production was revised down by 459,000 barrels per day so those July numbers will likely be revised.

World C+C production in kb/d. The last data point is July 2013.


USA production has kept peak oil at bay however. If we look at production without the input from the USA we get a different story. Here is World and Non-OPEC production, since 2004, without the input from the USA.

Less USA

The USA peaked in 1970 but the advent of shale oil has given it a second life. But there will be a second peak, and that peak will be a lot sooner than most people believe. Here is what US production looks like right now. The last data point here is September but those last several months are estimates, subject to revision.

United States

But even the EIA’s “Reference Case” has the USA peaking in 2019, or perhaps as early as 2016.

David Hughes gives us this chart of the EIA’s Reference Case: <a href=”“><b>The “Shale Revolution”</b> Myths and Realities</a>

All US Oil

Now notice how the EIA has Shale/Tight Oil peaking at the same time they have the US peaking. Well I think we can all agree with that. But what I don’t agree with is they have Shale/Tight Oil  holding at that very high output for years and only declining slightly during the next few years. And the decline is extremely slow all the way out to 2040.

They have the USA peaking at a lower point than it is today. Production from shale oil will climb a lot faster than they expected and it will drop a lot faster than they expect. Here is David Hughes’ take on it from that same report.

Bakken Eagle Ford Peak

The Bakken and Eagle Ford are 81 percent of US shale oil production but I expect the other 19 percent will fall off just as fast after they peak. So if David Hughes is right, and I think perhaps he is, then the US will peak in 2016. But notice that shale oil production slows in 2014 and slows even further in 2015. By this time, by 2015, world production will be dropping faster than the US is gaining.

I am going out on a limb and will make my official peak oil prediction. I believe the world Crude + Condensate will peak approximately one year before the US peaks. And that point, world peak, will be no later than 2015.

peak oil barrel

16 Comments on "When Will World Oil Production Peak?"

  1. Beery on Sat, 23rd Nov 2013 2:43 pm 

    “I believe the world Crude + Condensate will peak approximately one year before the US peaks.”

    Erm… the US peaked in 1970.

  2. John_A on Sat, 23rd Nov 2013 2:46 pm 

    And the world already peaked. We were told this by the oilignorant at TOD years ago. While a new round of fear mongering is appreciated if only for its zealotry, it is a bit early yet to get started on the rinse and repeat cycle. Even some peak oilers will still remember how poorly the last claim went.

  3. Beery on Sat, 23rd Nov 2013 2:49 pm 

    And 7.5 million barrels (which is, in my view, optimistic to say the least) doesn’t even come close to the 1970 peak of 10 million barrels, so it’s not “the peak”. It’s more like a foothill on the downslope from the peak.

  4. rockman on Sat, 23rd Nov 2013 3:57 pm 

    And once again from the peanut gallery: what’s more important: the fact that we haven’t reached GPO yet or that the world’s consumers are paying about $2 TRILLION per year more now for oil than just ten years? IOW was the US oil consumer happier when the country was producing less oil at $30/bbl or now when we’re producing more oil but at 3X that price? The Rockman and OPEC are very happy. Now a show of hands: who else is happy about the change?

  5. Northwest Resident on Sat, 23rd Nov 2013 4:55 pm 

    “And that point, world peak, will be no later than 2015.”

    Military strategists writing the Joint Operating Environment for 2010 projected 2015 as The Year when the world experiences significant shortfalls in oil production.

    You might want to read what the strategists had to say about the consequences of that happening…

  6. westexas on Sat, 23rd Nov 2013 6:17 pm 

    If we look at what the global oil industry had to spend to offset production declines and to show an average one bpd increase in global crude oil production for two seven year periods, 1998 to 2005 and 2005 to 2012, the cost for the 2005 to 2012 time period was 58 times the 1998 to 2005 time period, in terms of capital costs per average bpd increase in production (relative to 1998 and 2005 respectively).

  7. CAM on Sat, 23rd Nov 2013 6:40 pm 

    Predicting “Peak Oil” is a “no brainer”, predicting when is a “fools game”! Yes, we do need educated estimates, with the emphasis on educated. No one really knows how much the Saudis or Russians actually have. They may not even know themselves. But, if either of them go into terminal decline then we are past peak oil. That could be tomorrow or 10 years from now!

  8. John_A on Sat, 23rd Nov 2013 9:36 pm 

    Easy question. Why is THIS estimate of peak oil any different than all the others which didn’t work? Answer. Because it has no more insight into the resource base, economics of development or future GDP growth, future transport priorities than all the OTHER people who randomly fit curves to time series data and confuse that with having created a predictive model.

  9. rollin on Sat, 23rd Nov 2013 9:56 pm 

    There is so much money in oil that the countries and industries involved will actually go to the ends of the earth and jump through hoops to get it, consequences be damned.

    From the graphs above (nothing new) it is easy to see that the rate of increase in oil production has fallen to about 0.27% a year. That is very much smaller than in the past. We could be near a global peak in production. The real question is, how long can efficiency gains and conservation cover the real truth? That we are no longer getting as much net energy since it takes so much more energy (from all sources) to obtain that given net energy.

    When a commodity costs more for the same amount, that is inflation. We are definitely getting a lot less bang for the buck and that trend has not fallen away.

  10. westexas on Sat, 23rd Nov 2013 10:09 pm 

    The average production per well in the Bakken Play in the first half of 2013 was reportedly about 132 bpd.

    That’s got to be the biggest problem with the “Shale Plays Will Save the World” theme. A 100 to 150 bpd or so average per well production rate–while the play is still on the upslope prior to a peak–is supposed to work in Siberia, Saudi Arabia and in remote regions of Australia?

    And my guess is that at least 90% of currently producing shale oil wells will be plugged and abandoned, or down to 10 bpd or less, in 2023.

  11. BillT on Sun, 24th Nov 2013 1:32 am 

    Perhaps the question should be: When did we peak in NET oil ENERGY? A billion barrels of sweet light crude and a billion barrels of oil wannabes are two totally different things. It is the energy from oil that counts and that has been declining since 1970. Or, if you want to particular, maybe 2005. Either way, we are on the down slope of net oil energy. Why else has the world economy stalled out? Growth requires excess hydrocarbon energy, and we are fast running out of that resource.

  12. peterev on Sun, 24th Nov 2013 6:04 am 

    There are always questions:
    Where are we/will be looking for oil?
    What other responses are there for getting eggs, fruits and veggies to market? Such as using better batteries in electric vehicles? Or converting coal to diesel or using wind to create ammonia? Horse and buggy? We are living in interesting times. I think we will know soon.

  13. Arthur on Sun, 24th Nov 2013 11:11 am 

    Erm… the US peaked in 1970.

    You are missing the point Beery, take another close look at the third (big) graph and especially the rate of increase of production. It is very well possible that the US is going to top the previous record of 10 mbd barrel in a few years time. How long the boom is going to last is anybody’s guess.

    And I would not exclude either that the fourth graph will be close to reality, that is another thirty years of oil, not enough to fuel all the cars at current level but enough to prevent total collapse and maybe even enabling a transition path of sorts, once large parts of the population start to understand the situation and are ready for harsh measures.

  14. Airwicky on Sun, 24th Nov 2013 3:26 pm 

    The graph right below that suggests we (USA) won’t even pass 8. How do you like we’ll pass 10, Arthur

  15. Ron Patterson on Sun, 24th Nov 2013 4:59 pm 

    Berry wrote: Erm… the US peaked in 1970.

    Yes Berry, I know that, and I made that point in my text, if only you had bothered to read it.

    The USA peaked in 1970 but the advent of shale oil has given it a second life. But there will be a second peak, and that peak will be a lot sooner than most people believe.

  16. shortonoil on Sun, 24th Nov 2013 6:24 pm 

    The average Bakken well that comes online today producing 470b/d will in five years be producing 46b/d. That is 189,819 barrels over five years. For the $75 – $80/b that is being received at the well head, that is hardly a bargain at $8.5 million per well. If the money is costing 5%, over five years that is $10,848,400 over the five year life of the loan. That is to produce $14,236,425 in product (not counting gas if they can get it out) less royalties, taxes, and operational costs. Anyone thinking that this is anything but a PONZI scheme (or zero sum game) is experiencing a mathematical disconnect!

    The Bakken and the Eagle Ford produce 80% of the shale oil now being pumped by 26 or so plays. They are the best of the best. If these fields can’t turn a profit on the fields’ full life cycle no one can. The only ones coming out ahead on this fiasco is the promoters, and bankers. North Dakota will come out of it with a lot of ruined roads, water supplies, and and thousands of abandoned wells. If this is America’s energy independence, the Saudis must be laughing their heads off!

    Data taken from “Drill, Baby Drill” J. David Hughes

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