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The Oil Slump : Why We Aren’t Going Back To The 1980’s

The Oil Slump : Why We Aren’t Going Back To The 1980’s thumbnail

The world is a very different place today than in the 1980’s. The demand growth from China in the early 2000’s completely changed the demand picture.

OPEC, namely Saudi Arabia, doesn’t have the spare capacity it once had to flood the market.

The shale plays in the United States require constant investment to maintain production, much less grow production.

The mega-fields like Samotlor and Prudhoe Bay have already produced the vast majority of their reserves. It is very difficult to maintain production in old assets as water cut increases.

Oil and gas stocks look to be a great investment if you have a longer time frame than 6 months.

There have been a lot of articles recently on why oil prices will be “lower for longer” and how history is repeating itself a la the 1980’s oil glut. In my opinion, it’s just sensational journalism and doesn’t take into account how different the world is now. This statement isn’t from a perma-bulls mouth, the market is absolutely oversupplied right now and I expect oil prices to break down to $40/bbl or lower through Q1 of 2016. However, by Q2 I fully expect we are back to $55/bbl or higher with the distribution of outcomes skewed to the upside.

Going Back In Time to the 1980’s

OPEC’s actions in 1986 were shocking to say the least and a lot of great research was done on the event. Dermot Gately wrote a fantastic paper on the 1986 price collapse entitled “Lessons from the 1986 Price Collapse” and it can be read here.

During the 1970’s, OPEC started to flex their muscle regarding the global price of oil. In 1973, some of the OPEC countries refused to export oil to the United States causing prices to quadruple. In 1979, the Iranian revolution and OPEC curtailing production led to the price of oil doubling. The high prices led to increased exploration and development in other countries and caused OPEC to have to continually cut back production to sustain the price levels they set.

Oil Supply - 1980s

Source : Lessons from the 1986 Price Collapse

In 1986 it all changed when Saudi Arabia broke away from the cartel and increased production from 2.5 to 4.7 MMBOPD by the middle of 1986. Kuwait followed suit and also increased production from 0.9 to 1.4 MMBOPD. This supply increase caused the price to collapse by 50% until the rest of the OPEC countries could agree amongst themselves to cut back production. However prices remained low for the next 10 years because of the new fields and reserves that were developed in the price run up.

The big conventional fields are in decline

Samotlor Field and Prudhoe Bay are two of the largest fields in the world and both had peak production in the 1980’s. Samotlor peaked at 3.2 million bbls/d and is currently producing ~750 thousand bbls/d while Prudhoe Bay peaked at ~2 million bbls/d and is currently producing 300 thousand bbls/d. Large conventional fields produce for a long time at peak rate due to facility constraints until production begins to decline. All of the onshore “conventional” super major fields were put on production before 1980 and are in decline. The untapped basins of the world are only found offshore or are “unconventional” in nature. Both of which require high commodity prices to develop.

The demand for oil and gas has never been greater

The global demand for oil and gas has increased by 1.1% year over year from 1980 to 2010 as the standard of living continues to improve across the world. ExxonMobil projects very large standards of living increases across the world which will continue to increase demand for all energy demands including oil and gas.

(click to enlarge)Exxon Mobil Standard of Living

Source : ExxonMobil’s 2015 Outlook for Energy Report

Both the EIA and OPEC are also projecting world demand to continue to increase. With supplies from conventional fields shrinking the world will begin to rely more and more on unconventional production as well as more development in countries like Iran and Iraq.

(click to enlarge)EIA Global Forecast

Source : EIA International Energy Outlook 2014

OPEC Global Demand

Source : OPEC’s 2014 World Oil Outlook

Chinese Oil Demand

If anything, Chinese demand is understated due to the construction of their own strategic petroleum reserve. With the construction of phase two completed, they now have to fill 170 million barrels of storage. This is in addition to their domestic demand which has been growing steadily since 2001.

Chinese Oil Demand

Source : Chinese Oil Demand

One of the things that some investors forget is that China is still a centrally planned government that is seen as a key driver for global growth. What this means is that other countries will permit and even encourage them to devalue their currency if there are signs of a slowdown. The financial crisis in the US and the current crisis in the Eurozone are great examples of how loose monetary policy is the medicine the doctor ordered.

Where we go from here

We certainly aren’t going back to the 1980’s and “lower for longer” no longer applies. The underlying producing assets of today’s oil and gas production are vastly different than the assets that were producing in the 1980’s. Demand will continue to grow and the current oil price will have to increase for new supply to make it to market. The disconnect between current prices and future prices has never been higher. We are still currently oversupplied right now so I think we will see more weakness but if you have greater than a 6 month time frame I can’t imagine a better investment than oil and gas stocks.

seeking alpha

49 Comments on "The Oil Slump : Why We Aren’t Going Back To The 1980’s"

  1. penury on Sat, 24th Oct 2015 12:31 pm 

    No we are not going back to the 80s and the reasons are simple. The great majority of the developed economies owe more debt than they can repay.Some countries are finding it impossible to pay the interest on the debt that they owe. The great migration will change some nations irrevokably. So no we are not going back to the 80s unless you are reffering to 1480s

  2. Plantagenet on Sat, 24th Oct 2015 1:27 pm 

    Interesting to see OPEC predicting a steady INCREASE in oil demand over the next 25 years, with an increase of 10 million bbls/day just over the next 10 years.

    Clearly this isn’t going to happen at the current low oil price, and it isn’t going to happen without one heck of a lot of unconventional oil production from the deep sea, shale, tar sands etc.


  3. MrNoItAll on Sat, 24th Oct 2015 1:34 pm 

    Fishing for suckers:

    “Oil and gas stocks look to be a great investment if you have a longer time frame than 6 months.”

    Shale plays in the United States DO NOT require constant investment to maintain production. What they DO require is a steady flow of cash to burn and a herd of gullible suckers to provide that cash.

    But don’t worry. “Demand will continue to grow…” — no matter how many people can’t afford to buy it — says seeking alpha.

  4. penury on Sat, 24th Oct 2015 1:35 pm 

    Plant: with an increase of 10 million bbls/day just over the next 10 years.

    Clearly this isn’t going to happen. Fixed it for you

  5. BobInget on Sat, 24th Oct 2015 1:58 pm 

    Canada’s oil sands keep expanding, completing
    projects begun when oil was over $100.

    The preceding sentence is not investment advice.

  6. shortonoil on Sat, 24th Oct 2015 5:10 pm 

    “The global demand for oil and gas has increased by 1.1% year over year from 1980 to 2010 as the standard of living continues to improve across the world.”

    1960 – 2009 20.99 – 72.26 mb/d…. 2.51%
    1980 – 2009 59.56 – 72.26 mb/d…. 0.064%

    What is interesting about this article is that the EIA data presented conflicts with itself? Growth according to them was 0.064% between 1980 and 2009, not 1.1% (59.56 to 72.26 mb/d). It is also interesting that they would use 1980 rather than 1960; 1960 was their first reported production data point.

    As far as the EIA’s projections for demand; that is best as always taken with a grain, lump, brick, or block of salt. Historically their projections have been horrendous!

    Seeking Alpha’s quote, “oil and gas”, when the EIA data presented doesn’t make a single mention of gas smacks of a little bit of journalistic liberty at work? It is another Seeking Alpha article that reads pretty well if you don’t take too close a look at the detail! Of course they aren’t written for anyone who actually knows anything about oil. They are a chapter in the wannabe Bible.

  7. makati1 on Sat, 24th Oct 2015 7:36 pm 

    This article is pure propaganda bullshit to keep the suckers on board the sinking USS Petroleum a while longer.

  8. marmico on Sun, 25th Oct 2015 5:04 am 

    What a fuctard. You can’t even calculate decimal points.

    2015 U.S. oil consumption is about the same as in 1980. Real GDP rose ~150% in that 35 year time frame. 2015 U.S. primary energy consumption is about the same as in 2000. Real GDP rose ~30% in that time frame.

    It’s called energy intensity, fuctard.

  9. shortonoil on Sun, 25th Oct 2015 5:51 am 

    “What a fuctard. You can’t even calculate decimal points.”

    F = P(1+i)^n

    “Engineering Economic Analysis” Donald G. Newman

    That calculation must be a little difficult for a sheep herder using an abacus? Mutton brain has stuck again!

  10. marmico on Sun, 25th Oct 2015 6:09 am 

    You are an order of magnitude out of order. 0.06–>0.60.

    Use 1970 as the baseline.

  11. shortonoil on Sun, 25th Oct 2015 9:27 am 

    “You are an order of magnitude out of order. 0.06–>0.60.”

    Its called a typo, and you have nothing better to do? It is 0.06, which is 0.6%

    Bet that made Mutton Brain’s day? I have now invested 10,000 times more time into you than you are worth. No order of magnitude error in the above.

  12. shortonoil on Sun, 25th Oct 2015 9:33 am 

    The point is that the entire article is based on an EIA determination that can be shown to be wrong by their own data set.

    “Demand will continue to grow and the current oil price will have to increase for new supply to make it to market.”

    This is just more “don’t worry everything is just going to be fine” BS.

  13. apneaman on Sun, 25th Oct 2015 11:06 am 

    marmico, is that your whole life now? Lurking in the shadows waiting for short to make an error so you can swoop in? Fucking pathetic, completely pathetic. I guess it’s all you have left. Sad small little man.

  14. GregT on Sun, 25th Oct 2015 1:04 pm 

    “Sad small little man.”

    ‘Man’ is pushing things a bit Apnea.

  15. BC on Sun, 25th Oct 2015 7:19 pm 

    What marm, the alleged expert in identifying fuctards (and perhaps even the one in the mirror), did not say is that using the 1.1% figure (rather than 0.66%) reflects the fact that US oil consumption per capita has not grown since 1980 (and is down 11% using the 0.66% figure).

    Also, marm fails to relate that during the period US total credit market liabilities rose an order of exponential magnitude to private final sales (GDP less inventories and gov’t spending), and the ratio remains at the level prior to the GFC in 2008.

    Moreover, during the time US oil production per capita has fallen 45% and consumption has not grown (or has fallen 11%) and debt/final sales rose an order of exponential magnitude, industrial production to final sales fell more than an order of exponential magnitude, as firms deindustrialized and financialized the US economy via offshoring, labor arbitrage, and trillions of dollars of FDI in Mexico and China-Asia.

    So we are producing a little more than half of the oil per capita we produced in 1970, 75% of what we produced in 1985, and we’re using no more oil per capita since 1980 because we deindustrialized and financialized the economy as a result; and, in doing so, now have debt of $180,000 per capita (4-5 times the average earned income), $390,000 per employed person (9 times average earned income), and $480,000 per household (11 times average earned income and 9 times median household income).

    The top 0.001-1% surely think the rest of us are all fuctards, and we have been powerless fuctards to do anything about the process for 35-45 years. We’re even more powerless today, even as the elites advocate further mass immigration to pressure earned income, labor share of GDP, and productivity lower, and reduce real GDP per capita further.

  16. apneaman on Sun, 25th Oct 2015 7:35 pm 

    I noticed that the marmy-noon stopped coming around so often shortly after BC came on-board. No coincidence.

  17. MrNoItAll on Sun, 25th Oct 2015 7:50 pm 

    …perhaps even the one in the mirror

    When marm looks in the mirror, he sees a magnificent specimen, an intellectually superior being armed to the teeth with miscellaneous factoids and graphs gathered from the internet to support what he wishes to believe. He sees a logical being, a true patriot, an oracle of truth and a dedicated debunker of all truths that threaten the world he lives in. He sees magnificence personified!

    Everybody else just sees a dick-headed fuctard. Go figure.

  18. BC on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 12:23 am 

    MrNo: 😀 My requisite daily belly laugh achieved.

  19. Davy on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 7:37 am 

    Like I say periodically the corns don’t last long on this board. Marm is desperate and takes pot shots. The NOoo is AWOL. Boat is under the covers afraid to get out of bed. The list goes on. We doomers expose denial. Reality is working on our side. There is too much bad stuff happening to be optimistic. That does not mean you can’t be happy inside just quit being happy with delusional thinking. Face your denial of death and enter the 5 stages of death acknowledgement. If need be take the 12 steps alcoholics take. Anything is better than cornucopian denial.

  20. Boat on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 8:15 am 


    Boat is under the covers afraid to get out of bed.

    LOL I refuse to live in fear or let troubles dominate my life. Every minute of worry is like sitting at a stop light, a waste of life.

  21. Davy on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 8:47 am 

    I flushed covey. Hi boat.

  22. apneaman on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 9:03 am 

    Boat, so deep. Have you considered applying for a position at Hallmark?

  23. Boat on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 9:05 am 


    To dig a well, choose a spot and scoop repeatedly.

  24. marmico on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 9:40 am 

    BC has called 200 of the last 2 recessions. Two orders of magnitude out of order. ROTFLMFAO.

  25. apneaman on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 9:48 am 

    marmi, the only thing you are doing on the floor is bawling your corny eyes out. Where’s the happy graphs and charts today?

  26. Boat on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 9:54 am 

    Yes, BC claimed the crash would be in full bloom in 6 months. 2 months and 1 week have passed. The roads still look pretty full to me and no guns in the street. I can still shop. Will keep you posted. Gasoline is $1.89.

  27. apneaman on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 10:01 am 

    Boat, I guess those are the only metrics that matter in a globalized economy and snow disproves AGW.

  28. Boat on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 10:08 am 

    I know you have been missing me. I will do 3 charts and tell you a little story.

    These are links of the 3 biggest economies and the GDP’s for 10 years. You can also adjust them for much longer. If you look real close for every upturn in the economy there is a downturn. But over time the uptime average is much longer than the downtime. Todays lesson is now complete.

  29. apneaman on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 10:38 am 

    “Todays lesson is now complete”

    Complete bullshit.

    It’s a logical fallacy to assume that up’s and downs are eternal. Also there was no ZIRP 10 years ago, no QE and debt was much less. Now. after 7 consecutive years of ZIRP, the banks are talking NIRP. The up’s and down’s argument is a concession from you that everything is tanking, yet up to two weeks ago you have been claiming everything is awesome in spite of the fact that you were presented with more than ample evidence proving a faux/1%er recovery and another crash well under way. Is that why you ain’t been around boat? Had to take a trip to corny rehab and re-strategize. Now you are back with new excuses and explanations. Seen it before with other corns boat. It’s the one thing you tards do consistently. Like clock work. It happens every-time there is another step down. Last year, it was after it was clear that the price of oil was tanking. Corny silence for a couple of weeks, then they trickled back in, screaming louder than ever, flinging graphs and charts and assuring everyone it was just a dip – all perfectly normal. Up’s and downs. Is it? Seeing how the shale boom has only ever experienced up’s until last year it’s kinda early to claim and not accurate to shoe horn it in with the conventional bust and booms of the past. Usually when the corns have licked their wounds and feel safe enough to come limping back,(thinking we’ll forget their grand claims) there is always a few less. You’re either a hard core true believer or a masochist Boaty.

  30. GregT on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 10:52 am 

    “Todays lesson is now complete.”

    You have continued to ignore hundreds of links that have been provided to you Boat. You even continue to ignore the fact that you are losing your money in the markets.

    Most of the people that post here on a regular basis are of above average intelligence. You do not display any level of intelligence Boat, you don’t even display smart. You are wasting your time here Boat, as well as everybody else’s. Climb back under your covers, and stay within your comfort zone.

  31. onlooker on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 10:52 am 

    Cornies the eternal optimists. I suppose when most of the land area of Earth is underwater they will be saying “look I see some land over there” hehe.

  32. Boat on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 11:00 am 

    I have no clue who your talking about. You just can’t keep up. I went through a 3 day argument because Davy claimed for months the world economy was in recession. I just showed charts that proved him wrong. Like idiots ya’ll supported Davy. I just laugh and shake my head.

    I have no vested in the world or US economy except I have faith in my 10 year window to withdraw money from accounts with mutual funds. It is just paper till the day you pull it out and then buy something.

    I just point out a different view. You see China crashing. I see China has had unprecedented growth for a long time and then a huge jump in the stock market. The downturn has to happen at some point. Same with the US. A recession/downturn/correction happens on average every 6 years and the GDP has risen since 2009.

    You made a good points….there was no ZIRP 10 years ago, no QE and debt was much less. Now. after 7 consecutive years of ZIRP, the banks are talking NIRP

    I don’t know what effect that will have, all the debt either. I admit I don’t have all the answers. But I don’t think the price of oil changes much but a transfer of money from exporters to importers…where as the previous 6 years the money went from importers to exporters. You think major problem…I think BAU supply and demand.
    You love to, as most doomers do, try to label me as part of a group. Cornies you call it. It’s ok. But I do believe in global warming and billions of people will die at some point. Not in my lifetime though.
    There is no shortage of oil and while there is depletion of oil it is not a concern for decades other than hunger if the price goes so high we quit giving it away in the form of food.

  33. Boat on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 11:06 am 


    Do you even keep track of the markets? Go look.

  34. Boat on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 11:10 am 


    Is this more of your math? The market is up for the last calander year but down from the high so we must be in a recession.

  35. apneaman on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 11:15 am 

    “I don’t know what effect that will have,…” The effect was/is a 1%ER faux recovery. No jobs/shitty jobs, consumer credit exhaustion. Glencor, Walmat, McDonald’s, Caterpillar, etc, are cuttng like mental. Folks can’t do it anymore. Some still appear to, but have extended themselves to debt extremes with subprime everything, payday loans, reverse mortgages, 7 years to finance a car – wtf?, saver are all but extinct, etc, etc, and the institutional lying and cheating is systemic – no consequences. When the rule of law is ignored, societies fail.

  36. apneaman on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 11:27 am 

    Deflationary Collapse Ahead?

    “Has it started? With the powers that be having now called the top of Australia’s housing bubble and all four major banks raising interest rates to fulfill the regulators’ demand that they be ‘safer’, one must be asking when the deflationary spiral will begin, if it hasn’t already started. West Texas crude, I’ve just noticed, is at $44, and anything below $70 is tanking the oil companies. All the commodities Australia’s economy relies on are tanking too.”

  37. Boat on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 3:02 pm 


    I understand your concerns about debt but here is the other side of the picture. Interest rates on houses and cars are historically very cheap. Most housing has regained most of it’s value at least in Houston which is an oil town. It is cheaper to buy than to rent so people do what is smarter. Buy. Compared to just 10 years ago you can save $400-800 on the same bills.

    At the same time the stock market has gone up over 4,000 basis points since before the crash. If you took some of your savings and kept investing, on paper you did well. Inflation has been low.
    While the rule of thumb says wages have been stagnate my bills have dramatically dropped over the last decade. My investments are at historic highs. It is not bad out there with a little common sense.

  38. apneaman on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 5:09 pm 

    Thanks common sense financial adviser Boat. I once owned SPYDR’s and other index funds, but sold them then borrowed even more money and bought a piece of a small apartment building, then lived on the cheap for 5 years in my camper and taking long term new construction camp jobs (no rent, no food bill) to pay the loan off ASAP. Which is why I can sit around debt free eating ice cream and doom my days away while you think you still need to go to work. Thanks anyway common sense financial adviser Boat.

    P.S. were having “Tin Roof Sunday” this week.

  39. GregT on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 5:41 pm 


    From your link above the dow is down 1.12% year to date. If you don’t consider that to be recessionary, then you are beyond reason. Also, your last comment to apnea above proves to anybody with any common sense, that you have no common sense at all. You have just proven without a shadow of a doubt that you don’t have the foggiest clue about what you are talking about. You are one very confused individual Boat. If you are not willing to at least make an attempt to understand what others are trying to explain to you here, then you totally deserve what is coming your way. You will have nobody to blame but yourself.

  40. GregT on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 6:00 pm 

    Thanks Apnea,

    If I had have followed Boat’s “logic”, I would most certainly be in the same boat that he is in today. Instead of being retired at 53, with zero debt to my name, and financially independent. It’s like listening to a 5 year old arguing with a 60 year old, about intimate sexual relationships. Welcome to the land of boatzarro.

  41. Boast on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 6:16 pm 


    I picked the one year. For a better perspective go look at a 10 year or 5 year.

  42. Boast on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 6:21 pm 

    Since your so successful why can’t you see any upside. Nothing but doomerism. Those savings affect real people with real jobs.


    Am happy for you. You found a better way to work the system. Hard to imagine success being a jerk the way you are.

  43. GregT on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 6:47 pm 

    I did exactly the opposite of what you are doing Boat, not because I am a jerk, but because I listened to those more knowledgeable than myself. Something that you haven’t quite figured out yet, and probably never will.

    “For a better perspective go look at a 10 year or 5 year.”

    What is it exactly that you are trying to accomplish here Boat? You are attempting to explain something to me, that I already understand better than you do. I lived, worked, and breathed this stuff, every day for the last 35 years of my life.

  44. Boast on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 7:35 pm 

    So if you know so much why do you sound like Fox news and MSNBC. Spin, spin and more spin. You might be more credible if told both sides of the story. Until then your just another Hannity to me. With a worse mouth.

  45. GregT on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 7:51 pm 

    Fox news and MSNBC are telling the general public to invest in the markets, go further into debt, and that the economy is doing fine. I am telling the other side of the story Boat, the truth. The side that you do not want hear about.

  46. Davy on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 8:02 pm 

    Boast, I am sorry I kicked the dog this morning. I woke a poodle. I have read line after line of nonsense. Come on boast, you can be optimistic without being in denial. Is it boast or boat? I thought boast fitting though.

  47. GregT on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 8:10 pm 

    You have decided that it is a good idea to invest money that you owe to somebody else, rather than pay off your debt. It has been in my experience that this strategy has lead far more people to ruin, than it has lead to financial security. If you choose this route, all the power to you. Your choice. I don’t agree with this strategy, have lived my life accordingly, and it has paid off for me in the long run. As with all financial advice, YMMV, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. Good luck to you.

  48. Boast on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 9:31 pm 


    I work because I want to. I could pay off my debts and retire if I wanted to. Just isn’t smart money as long as I am in good health. I love a good sweat. I would rather build than garden. Working with your hands is good for the body, brain and keeps you young. Besides it is fun to use all those cool tools tech provided.

  49. GregT on Mon, 26th Oct 2015 10:52 pm 


    There is nothing smart about being in debt, especially in times of economic uncertainty, and more especially not at 58 years of age. If/when the markets take a dive, you stand to not only lose your investments, but your home as well.

    I work because I want to, not because somebody else expects me to do it. In so far as “all those cool tools tech provided”, I have always been a techie Boat, and have all of the tools I could ever want or need. Yesterday I finished the desk that I built for the den downstairs, and will be starting in on a bookcase, as soon as I finish the shed off in the backyard, right after I finish mulching the gardens. On the weekend I installed a new pump and pressure tank for the well. The electrical, mechanical, and plumbing, all done by myself. I figure I saved around $2000 for less than two days work. Good for the brain. For the body I am still very physically active. I mountain bike with 20 year olds, and up until 3 years ago was still a ski instructor, and played ice hockey two days a week. Might instruct again this year, if we actually get some snow. Hockey, we’ll see. The bangs and bruises don’t heal quite as quickly anymore, and bones break a lot easier.

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