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Page added on November 15, 2018

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US shale oil forecasts too optimistic

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The fracking of hard-to-reach oil reserves has helped the US regain its crown as the world’s top crude oil producer. But even the International Energy Agency (IEA) is now worried that the shale boom has been overhyped.

Since it first came on stream a decade ago, US shale oil has been hailed as the great black hope for a world still reliant on fossil fuels, despite the worsening effects of climate change.

Concerns about the depletion of Middle East oil reserves have been somewhat offset by the resurgence of US oil production, which last month reached 11.6 million barrels per day (bpd), up 20 percent on the previous year. That’s already more than a third of the 32 million barrels produced globally per day.

The US, whose oil industry peaked in 1970s and was thought to be in terminal decline, has now overtaken Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest oil producer. Advances in fracking technology have made it possible to drill in tight shale in the North American Permian Basin, which lies under the US states of Texas and New Mexico, as well as further afield.

Permian is forecast to become the most lucrative oil patch in the world over the next decade, potentially overtaking Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar field. Energy analysts Wood Mackenzie predicts the region will account for two-thirds of the increase in US oil production and contribute one-quarter of world’s oil production increase over the next 10 years.

IEA skepticism

Although many oil industry insiders believe the US shale boom is so powerful it can plug a potential supply crunch that the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned will lead to a global shortage of oil in the mid 2020s, others believe the expansion has been overhyped and that some of most lucrative shale wells may have already peaked.

 

Last month, Paal Kibsgaard, CEO of the world’s largest oilfields services company, Schlumberger, warned that the most optimistic projections for US shale oil production may not be met.

Describing a shortage of pipeline capacity in the Permian Basin, Kibsgaard also cautioned over longer-term problems as producers drill so-called child wells in areas that have already been drilled [by parent wells]. He described how child wells are much less productive, but now make up more than two-thirds of all new wells drilled in two large US oil regions.

“The well-established market consensus that the Permian can continue to provide 1.5 million barrels per day of annual production growth for the foreseeable future is starting to be called into question,” Kibsgaard was cited by the Financial Times as saying.

The IEA has also warned of the hazards of relying on US shale to plug the shortage, adding that it would require a tripling of US tight oil production from today’s level in just seven years. And while the Paris-based agency does see the US dominating the world energy market by 2025, it said in its latest report, released on Tuesday, “it would appear risky” to rely on such a drastic growth in oil production.

 

Another warning about the over-optimistic predictions within the oil industry came earlier this year from Mark Papa, one of the pioneers of modern day fracking or hydraulic fracturing — the technique used to drill for hard-to-reach oil. At an energy industry conference in Houston, Texas, in March, Papa warned: “The impression of US shale as the big bad wolf is perhaps a bit overstated.”

Among his concerns were revelations that drillers in two other major shale regions — Eagle Ford in Texas and the Bakken in North Dakota — had already drilled through their most lucrative assets.

 

“My theory is that you’ve got basically resource exhaustion that is beginning to take place. It’s no secret that you’ve only got three shale oil plays in the US of any consequence,” Papa said, referring to Permian, Eagle Ford and Bakken. “The rest of them don’t amount to a hill of beans.”

Shale costs rising

The new black gold rush has seen hundreds of small and medium-sized energy companies plow billions of dollars into the main US fracking regions, which has led to overproduction. Rising labor and equipment prices, along with the cost of removing excess water and gas from wells has put even more pressure on oil producers, many of whom are under substantial shareholder pressure as they’re still not profitable.

“Shale operators have been burning money, they’ve lost hundreds of billions dollars since they started [prospecting],” said Chris Martenson, an oil industry watcher and founder of Peakprosperity.com.

“They’ve managed to lose money in every oil price environment,” he added, referring to the highly-volatile oil price over the past decade that, at times, has made shale production uneconomical.

“That’s not a good business model,” Martenson told his subscribers on YouTube.

Martenson believes oil prices would need to be twice their current price to fully support the shale industry long-term, factoring in damage to nearby transport infrastructure, while meeting environmental regulations, including re-plugging the wells, and dealing with waste water.

As well as being at the mercy of oil prices, energy efficiencies in existing gas (petrol) and diesel transportation, along with a speedier global transition to electric cars, could see demand for oil fall to such an extent that shale quickly becomes uneconomical again.

In its latest report called Shale Reality Check, the Post Carbon Institute backed up the assertion that the shale boom had been overhyped, adding that the US’s Energy Information Agency’s (EIA) forecasts were “highly to extremely optimistic,” and therefore “unlikely to be realized.”

EIA forecasts count on all proven shale reserves being recovered, along with a high percentage of unproven resources, by 2050.

“The nature of these reservoirs is that they decline quickly, such that production from individual wells falls 70 to 90 percent in the first three years,” the Post Carbon Institute’s report said.

The California-based environmental think tank warned that the overambitious forecasts are “a disservice to planning a viable long-term energy strategy.”

dw.com



15 Comments on "US shale oil forecasts too optimistic"

  1. Southwest_PA on Thu, 15th Nov 2018 2:18 pm 

    “US oil production, which last month reached 11.6 million barrels per day (bpd), up 20 percent on the previous year. That’s already more than a third of the 32 million barrels produced globally per day.”

    Huh?

  2. Coffeeguyzz on Thu, 15th Nov 2018 4:35 pm 

    Not that any of you doomers ever show much interest in actual fact checking in these matters, but a simple 10 minute scan of the referenced “Shale Reality Check” should show why you all keep getting it wrong.

    Heck, even a 5 minute read of the Executive Summary will show Hughes displaying one of the all time fuck ups in prognostication when he COMPLETELY dismisses the Permian as a viable resources of future unconventional production.
    That epoch screwup will dwarf his already massively disproven prediction of the Marcellus peaking.

    Keep reading and BELIEVING in these charlatans and then wonder why you all are being derisively viewed as a shrinking, pathologically influenced cult by a wider cyber audience.

    Cowboyistan!!!

  3. Davy on Thu, 15th Nov 2018 4:57 pm 

    Coffee, a hurrah is do you cornucopians but please I see way too much that is hollow in the shale world. Maybe if shale was making money hand over fist I would hurrah with you but it is debatable it is profitable in aggregate.

  4. Anonymous on Thu, 15th Nov 2018 7:03 pm 

    Mark Papa has been dramatically wrong. In NOV17 STEO (which he criticized as optimistic), EIA predicted AUG17 US production would rise from 9.2 to 9.9 by AUG18. (a 0.7 raise). It actually rose by 2.1 going to 11.35 million bopd.

    Before repeating the critiques, how about revisiting all the people like Hamm and Papa and all the peak oilers and shale critics who missed the recent rise?

  5. makati1 on Thu, 15th Nov 2018 7:13 pm 

    When the US economy collapse’, shale oil will implode. As interest rates rise, shale will die. It is living on debt. a lot of debt, like most Americans. The crash is coming.

  6. I AM THE MOB on Thu, 15th Nov 2018 8:05 pm 

    ‘Mini Ice Age’ Looms As NASA Scientist Warns Lack Of Sunspots Could Bring Record Cold

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-11-14/mini-ice-age-looms-nasa-scientist-warns-lack-sunspots-could-bring-record-cold

    Zerohedge spewing climate denial from SHTFPLAN.com..

    Who is dumb enough to believe this shit?

    Besides Davy..

    LMFAO!

  7. Outcast_Searcher on Thu, 15th Nov 2018 8:51 pm 

    Mob, the denialists eat that stuff up, even though it’s just the same old repeated denialist crap.

    This, based on the Youtube comments on the presentation, which I was directed to from a thread on peakoil.com.

    Apparently NO amount of data, evidence, facts, logic will sway the hard core set. Reminds me of the Cassandra crew.

  8. Outcast_Searcher on Thu, 15th Nov 2018 8:53 pm 

    Good old Mak. Perpetually spewing wrong predictions, but always confident. How many decades before collapse, much less a big crash? You don’t know any more than people who actually use data and logic and open minds.

  9. I AM THE MOB on Thu, 15th Nov 2018 10:29 pm 

    Maryland Man Killed By Cops Trying To Take His Guns Under “Red Flag” Confiscation Law

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/maryland-officers-serving-red-flag-gun-removal-order-fatally-shoot-armed-man/

  10. makati1 on Thu, 15th Nov 2018 10:54 pm 

    Outcast, the collapse is ongoing and gaining speed. You are just in denial or too stupid to see it. Or both.

    Over 50% of Americans are on some form of welfare from your government.

    Real buying power for over 90% of Americans has not increased for the last 30 to 40 years.

    Unemployment, by the standards of 30 years ago, is in the 20+% levels. Not the lies you read about today.

    Real inflation is over 8% by the same older standards.

    The US is in a depression, if your government told the truth. You have to borrow over a trillion dollars a year to keep the government going. That number is increasing annually.

    Drugs are killing more Americans than cars, guns and suicides combined. Not to forget that suicides are growing also. Especially among your ‘veterans’ who have been thrown into the gutter by your wonderful government.

    I could go on and on, but you will have to be hit between the eyes with that 2X4 of reality before you will acknowledge the collapse. Be patient. The real pain is coming.

  11. Antius on Fri, 16th Nov 2018 3:31 am 

    “Permian is forecast to become the most lucrative oil patch in the world over the next decade, potentially overtaking Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar field.”

    “Shale operators have been burning money, they’ve lost hundreds of billions dollars since they started [prospecting],”

    These two statements would appear to contradict each other.

  12. Davy on Fri, 16th Nov 2018 5:45 am 

    “Good old Mak. Perpetually spewing wrong predictions, but always confident. How many decades before collapse, much less a big crash? You don’t know any more than people who actually use data and logic and open minds.”

    OS, ask billy mak about the Bric bank or the gold backed Yuan. LMFAO….on and on….the old man is hilarious.

  13. I AM THE MOB on Fri, 16th Nov 2018 7:00 am 

    Mak is going to die with a diaper full of poop well before the collapse hits..And he will die a lonely old angry man..

    Too bad he couldn’t do good at marriage..

    LMFAO!

  14. Boat on Fri, 16th Nov 2018 7:49 pm 

    US oil predictions optimistic? Actual production has blown away the predictions for a decade. Canada and the US are constrained by pipelines, people, regulations, sand and water. Lack of oil is not even a consideration to those actually follow oil. Those pesky barrel counters.

  15. Dooma on Sat, 17th Nov 2018 8:11 am 

    “Maryland Man Killed By Cops Trying To Take His Guns Under “Red Flag” Confiscation Law”

    Q. What sort of idiot answers the door to police armed?

    A. A dead one

    He thought that being white saved him. He forgot about the “trash” prefix.

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