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JODI, Iraqi Reserves and Ghawar

JODI, Iraqi Reserves and Ghawar thumbnail

The JODI data just came in with production numbers for January 2015. I really don’t like JODI all that much but they are about two and one half months ahead of the EIA with their world data. And their data is incomplete so I have to substitute the EIA data for the countries that do not report to JODI. So the data I use is about 95% JODI and about 5% EIA. The last data point is January 2015 and is in thousand barrels per day.

JODI World

We peaked in December at 75,342,000 bpd but dropped 356,000 bpd in January to 74,986 bpd.


JODI has the US at 9,226,000 in December but dropping 34,000 bpd in January to 9,192,000 bpd. The US did not start its grand ascent until the summer of  2011 when the shale oil boom exploded.


Without that shale surge in the USA here is what World C+C production looks like. Less USA production is down just over 1.3 million barrels per day from its July 2008 peak and down just over 1.2 million barrels per day from its April 2012 peak.

JODI Russia

The only other JODI chart of note is Russia. Russian January production stood at 10,110,000 barrels per day. Expect Russia to be slightly down for the rest of the year then down a lot more in 2016.

Iraqi Dreaming

In late 2009 Iraq held a series of auctions for production service contracts at the largest fields. The Iraqi oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, estimated that Iraq will be able to produce 6m barrels a day by 2017 based on the deals announced to December 2009.  However, the country hopes to raise production to 12 million barrels per day over this period based on all deals it was negotiating at end 2009. 12 million bopd is around 15% of 2008 oil demand, and almost as much as the #1 producer, Saudi Arabia, could provide. These production forecasts seem optimistic, but significant increases remain possible. 

Imagine that, 12 million barrels per day. This announcement prompted Stuart Staniford to announce that Iraq Could Delay Peak Oil a Decade, and he created the below graph to show what just might happen.

Iraqi Dreams

According to that graph Iraq should be producing about 9.7 million barrels per day right now. However they are just a tad over one third that amount today, they were at 3,320,000 bpd in February according to the OPEC MOMR. And it will never happen. Iraq will, very soon, begin to decline.

But according to the EIA, the IEA, BP and just about everyone else in the world, Iraq has vast, vast reserves. Wiki has this to say about Oil reserves in Iraq quoting the EIA:

Iraqi Proved Reserves

As a result of military occupation and civil unrest, the official statistics have not been revised since 2001 and are largely based on 2-D seismic data from three decades ago. International geologists and consultants have estimated that unexplored territory may contain vastly larger reserves.

The problem is that “international geologists and consultants had nothing to do with it. Iraqi officials in Bagdad decided that Iraq had far more reserves than was originally reported. Below is a field by field of Iraqi reserves.

A better view of Iraqi oil reserves can be found in this 2003 paper: GIS in an Overview of Iraq Petroleum Geology. And the entire caption to Table 1 turned out to be a link with every stat on every Iraqi field you would want. That is the location, depth, discovery year, type of trap, lithology, and a few other stats which I have no idea what they mean.

Table 1. Database of giant fields in Iraq, showing basic geologic features and estimates of ultimate recovery and reserves (from Horn, 2003 [with minor revision]). Basic data sources for Horn (2003): Halbouty et al., 1970; Carmalt and St. John, 1986; I.H.S. Energy Group, 1998, Selected giant field data (with kind permission to publish granted 2002); supported by 35 additional sources.

Here below is that chart.

Iraqi Reserves Full

Of course the data is too small to read here but just click on the “Table 1″ link and it becomes very readable. I have copied the pertinent data below and added a few calculations.

Iraqi Reserves Left

In 2003 Iraq was 51% depleted. In the 12 years since the end of 2002, Iraq has produced about 10.5 billion barrels. That means they have about 31.225 billion barrels of reserves left.

Every OPEC nation is in about the same position as Iraq including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. In January of 2006 Petroleum Intelligence announced that Kuwait only had 48 billion barrels of remaining reserves. But it said the data it had seen show that of the current remaining 48 billion barrels of proven and non-proven reserves, only about 24 billion barrels are so far fully proven — 15 billion in its biggest oilfield Burgan.

Saudi has the world’s largest oil field, Ghawar, and it is severely depleted. This 2004 paper, Selected Features of Giant Fields, Using Maps and Histograms, has a wealth of information on the discovery and depletion of giant oil and gas fields.

Ghawar Reserves

Do the math, this 2004 chart says Ghawar started with 97 billion barrels of oil and was, in 2004, over 81% depleted. Of course the rest of Saudi is not that depleted. They have three fields that have been producing only a few years, Khurais, Manifa and Shaybah. These three fields, along with their other old giants, have enabled Saudi to keep production between 9 and 10 million barrels a day. But it is highly likely that they are about two thirds depleted.

Ghawar 6

Western flank cross section of North ‘Ain Dar. Source: Figure 9 of Alhuthali et al, Society of Petroleum Engineers Paper #93439, March 2005.

The above was posted by Stuart Staniford The Status of North Ghawar. The the legend on the right is “percent water”. Ain Dar is the north most section of Ghawar. Saudi, along with every other Middle East, North Africa OPEC country, has only one third or less reported reserves remaining.

But how can this be so? How can so many countries be way past 50 percent depleted and still be producing at or very near their peak production. The answer is simple, massive infill drilling with horizontal wells right at the top of the reservoir. From a 2009 Seeking Alpha article Alex Burgansky: Russian Oil and Gas Industry Surprises Analysts:

Russia is a very mature producer. If you exclude all the drilling activity taking place every year, then Russian organic decline in production is close to 19%. To compensate for that organic decline, Russia drills somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 wells every year.

And from a 2006 Saudi Article:

• Without “maintain potential” drilling to make up for production, Saudi oil fields would have a natural decline rate of a hypothetical 8%. As Saudi Aramco has an extensive drilling program with a budget running in the billions of dollars, this decline is mitigated to a number close to 2%.

Massive infill horizontal well drilling has made it a new ball game. They enable a country like Russia or Saudi Arabia to keep production from declining any great amount until its fields are around two thirds depleted or more. But then when decline finally does set in it will be steep, very steep. Their production profile will resemble a Seneca Cliff.

How many countries are approaching this Seneca Cliff? I have no idea but I would guess most of the big produces like Saudi and Russia are very near hitting that point.

10 Comments on "JODI, Iraqi Reserves and Ghawar"

  1. Plantagenet on Tue, 24th Mar 2015 5:27 pm 

    No sign yet that the oil glut and oil price e collapse are producing a big downturn in oil production either in the US or in the rest of the world.

  2. GregT on Tue, 24th Mar 2015 7:00 pm 

    The faster it gets pumped out of the ground, the steeper the cliff will be, and the sooner the oil age comes to an end.

    We have already past peak conventional oil. The stuff that became profitable to produce when oil prices increased by 500% back in 08, is not affordable to our economies. The economic contraction due to high oil prices has caused a small surplus of too expensive oil. Economic growth has stagnated, and as that growth continues to taper off, less high priced oil will be in demand, and more of that same oil will stay in the ground where it belongs.

  3. BobInget on Tue, 24th Mar 2015 7:20 pm 

    Arctic drilling, here we come! (says Shell with two billion dollars already sunk, with not a single barrel to show).

    Shell is building a multi million dollar base camp in Seattle. Much to Green’s anger.

    When Shell, the West’s largest oil company can’t replace its reserves, it will go where no drillers have gone before. God, help.

    How about those Venezuelan oil sands?
    Oh, so sorry, China ate the whole thing.

    Watch China gobble up some of these endangered Canadian oils.

  4. Perk Earl on Tue, 24th Mar 2015 9:25 pm 

    I’m surprised more posters are not chiming in on this one.

  5. Craig Ruchman on Tue, 24th Mar 2015 9:31 pm 

    Well, looking at the JODI World C + C Less USA, it’s even worse when we consider the cost of declining ERoEI. It’s just about time to throw in the towel to peak oil. And to think big cars are on the move again just as the shale oil boom goes bust.

  6. BobInget on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 11:25 am 

    EIA Trends (swiped from another board)

    US production seems to have finally stalled at 9.42m barrels with a mere growth of 3K barrels from Alaska and flat supplies from the lower 48 at 8.91m barrels. However, the 4 weeks year over year average US production is still up by a strong 14.9% or 1.22m barrels increase. Demand week over week declined substantially to 18.7m barrels from 19.5m last week, with most of the declines seems to come from gasoline (641K decline). The YoY 4 weeks average however is still showing healthy growth at 2.9% or an increase of 530K barrels from 18.59m last year to 19.12m this year. Core petroleum supply (Gasoline, Kerosene and Distillates) grew by 310K barrels to 14.14m from 13.83m a 2.2% increase. Refineries processed 94K more barrels per day compared to the previous week.

    Finally US production seems to have halted, and while one number does not make a trend, I believe it is highly unlikely for US production to be able to resume its growth in the near future in light of the substantial decline in the rig count. Demand on the other hand is still healthy, but it has slowed markedly from the 5% to 6% range earlier in the year to 2%-3% rate, this is a trend worth watching. Storage builds still came in very strong, but this was mostly due to the slow return of new refining capacity, I believe this was most likely the last build of this size. I guess I was right in predicting US supply to stall in March, but probably a week too early in my call for mega storage builds to stop. Despite the weakness in crude after the report, I believe this report has preliminary elements of a sustained rebound in crude.


  7. BobInget on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 12:36 pm 

    IMO, Mideast and North African events of the last few weeks have far more to do with WW
    demand then does ‘rig count’.

    Wars use shit loads of oil.

    Even more interesting, because of ‘security’
    such exact consumption information is difficult to come by.

    In days and weeks leading up to another US intervention, rough estimate; one million barrels per day. Only the Saudis are positioned to supply that much refined fuel. (Iraq, our great friends, (we invaded) will be feeding Iranian
    forces. In retaliation, very popular in ME, the Saudis will attack Iran’s refinery capacity, or try.

    If the US military were coming for my ass, first thought would be to cut fuels supply at the source.
    Watch for Saudi Refineries to be the first Prime Targets. Makes great TV too.

    The next target will be oil distribution ‘choke’ points, (pumps, where many pipelines converge)

    Not to expect many oil well fires. Remember,
    every militant is determined to profit, if they survive.

    Don’t forget Israel and Israeli stolen gas.
    Hamas and other groups are determined.

    Now on the home front, someone in the White House must try to explain why we need to send troops to Yemen. (instead of only drones)

    Poof, like magic, HRH stops using ‘oil glut’
    in every post. Instead he will blame President O for not being forceful enough before it’s too late.

    Who comes out smelling like a Rose here?
    China, of course.

    When in a few months (wars can’t go on w/o oil,
    when the fighting ebbs, Putin restructures OPEC ver.2.0

  8. BobInget on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 2:15 pm 

    Saudi’s likely response over Yemen & Iraq
    “With the fall of Aden, Yemen will be officially a part of Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon axis. Yemen has territorial claims on 3 Southern Saudi provinces. Saudis may not start an open war with Yemen in case those claims are revived.

    So far, USA has bombed Saudi proxies (AQ in Syria and Yemen, ISIS in Syria and Iraq). USA probably wants 3 camps in the Middle-East (Iran, Saudi and Israel) rather than 2 (Arabs and Israel).

    This seems like a major geopolitical event to me with long-term repercussions. That oil is still under $50 shows the (myopic) focus of oil traders”.

    What did I write last week?

    “Short positions are over-bought” or some such nonsense.

    Some folks will trot out a ‘Black Swan’ metaphor. Idiotic. This Yemen civil war gets in line behind at least five others raging in oil country.

    You can watch events unfold here or wait for dozens of books written of world history in the making. This is truly historic and folkloric boys and girls.

    If your trading and haven’t taken any positions,
    wait till tomorrow’s EIA report. IMO it will show a slowdown in Saudi Imports. (week three)
    As weather improves, so will miles driven.

    Today’s news is dominated by a European
    plane crash. This will not be the case, this time next week.

    As Yemen and other civil wars in the region ‘progress’ it will be obvious, the US can’t
    put out (any) these fires. The last two front wars nearly took us down. Fighting on six or seven countries all at once without mentioning why
    is simply not gonna happen.

    Iran or Israel or the US or Russia or Pakistan
    or UK or France don’t dare use nuclear weapons. (and destroy ‘our’ oil?)
    So, the one good think to evolve here is how useless mid 20th century ‘atomic bombs’ are in today’s fucked up “War on Terror” .

    China, w/o firing drone one, managed to
    corner world oil markets.

  9. BobInget on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 9:24 pm 

    Saudi Arabia launches airstrikes on Yemen

    Repeat, As KSA launches airstrikes on Iranian
    proxies, these ‘proxies’ have every right to
    return rocket fire.

    KSA shares a thousand mile border with Yemen.
    Iran can and IMO will, use mobile missiles for
    “retaliatory”missions. These missiles will clearly be aimed for Saudi Refineries and oil pipelines.

    That’s 10,000,000 barrels per day
    off market.

    We will see Wednesday exactly how much NEW OIL the US needs to come up with in the next six weeks.

    BTW, It’s no coincidence this, the fifth oil related civil war, began near the first day’s of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

    When, I wonder will an American public make the connection?

    If Israel moves against Iran in legion with their great allies (Saudi Arabia), you will be witness to

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