Posts tagged “oil reserves”
I spent a lot of time in 2015 warning that at year-end we would see a huge decline in crude oil reserves. As I have explained in the past, the reason I expected this is because of the relationship between proved oil reserves and oil prices. This relationship is important for understanding oil reserves. Some articles that recently began making the rounds made certain conclusions from this paper — A global energy assessment — in which some subtleties about oil reserves have been lost. So let’s review.
An oil resource refers to the total amount of oil in place in particular area. Generally, most of a resource can’t be technically recovered, but the resource refers to the amount that could potentially be recovered. These estimates can go up and down, but the resource is what could be recovered at 100% recovery based on current estimates.
As an example, it is estimated that the Bakken Shale centered under North Dakota contains several hundred billion barrels (bbl) of oil (the resource). However, what is technically and economically recoverable in the Bakken has been estimated at less than 10 billion barrels (<10% of the resource). CONTINUE»
Last December the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its latest estimate of U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Proved Reserves. Although natural gas reserves rose, the real story was crude oil reserves. The EIA reported that U.S. proved reserves of crude oil and lease condensate had increased for the fifth year in a row, and had exceeded 36 billion barrels for the first time since 1975:
There are two reasons for this increase in proved reserves. The first is that despite >150 years of oil production in the U.S., new fields are still being discovered. In March 2015 the EIA released its update to the Top 100 U.S. Oil and Gas Fields as a supplement to the December report. This was the EIA’s first update on the Top 100 fields since 2009. The most significant addition to the list was the Eagleville field (in the Eagle Ford Shale), which was only discovered in 2009 but is now the top producing oil field in the U.S. In addition to the Eagleville, there were 4 other fields in the Top 100 that were only discovered in 2009. Several others in the Top 100 were discovered in 2007 and 2008.
But the largest additions to reserves weren’t via new discoveries at all. The largest reserves additions have been a result of rising oil prices, and this is a source of frequent misunderstanding on the topic on reserves. CONTINUE»
Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), the fourth-largest oil producer in the world, has announced that it has discovered a crude oil deposit that could provide as much as 1 billion barrels by the time exploration and extraction is complete.
More than 500 million barrels are estimated to lie beneath the original well site, dubbed Navegante 1, at a depth of nearly 4 miles, with another 500 million barrels expected to lie in surrounding areas. PEMEX, a state-run oil firm, has already spent more than $10 billion in exploration efforts, culminating in this, the largest solid-ground crude discovery made in the country in the past 10 years. (Read More: How Much Oil is Left in the World?)
I want to post a quick rant on the uselessness of statistics about a country’s oil reserves. I was preparing this afternoon to write a blog post about the revolution in oil production in the US, caused by the adoption of new technologies of fracking and horizontal drilling in areas like the Bakken Shale and the Eagle Ford Shale.
The USGS reports that, with perspective additions, the U.S. holds 32 billion barrels (bb) of oil, 291 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, and 10 billion barrels of natural gas liquids in mean potential undiscovered reserves. This is a substantial upwards revision from last year’s estimate – showing how the new technologies are revolutionizing America’s energy outlook.
Then I started doing the math. The U.S. uses about 18.7 million barrels of crude oil equivalent per day (mbd), according to the EIA. Of that consumption, we’re importing about 8.7 mbd, and producing about 10 mbd. That works out to a total annual consumption of about 6.875 bb of oil, of which about 3.65 bb is from domestic production. At those rates, America would completely exhaust its total reserves, as estimated by the USGS at 32 bb of oil in eight years, nine months. So, by April or May of 2021, the United States would no longer have any oil – if these reserve estimates went unchanged.
Over the next two to three weeks, I am going to post a series of short articles utilizing graphics I created from the recently released 2012 BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Because I am working on the roll-out of a new product which will be geared specifically toward those with a financial interest in the world of energy (more on that in the coming days), I will take a break from my video blogs during this time, and catch up on accumulated questions after I finish this series.
World Oil Reserves Facts and Figures
The topic of this first article in the series is oil reserves. Just to review, an oil resource refers to the total amount of oil in place, most of which can’t be recovered. The proved oil reserve refers to the amount of oil that can be recovered economically with existing technology. More details can be found in Setting the Record Straight on U.S. Oil Reserves.
Here I describe some interesting new research on modifying Hubbert’s model of peak oil to take into account the incentives for additional production that higher oil prices would be expected to bring.
A recent IMF Working paper by Jaromir Benes, Marcelle Chauvet, Ondra Kamenik, Michael Kumhof, Douglas Laxton, Susanna Mursula and Jack Selody begins by noting the trend in forecasts of oil production from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In earlier years, these forecasts were primarily just extrapolations of trends in global demand, with the assumption that supply would grow as needed to meet demand. If EIA’s 2001 forecast had proven accurate, the world today would be producing about 100 million barrels of oil each day. The EIA forecast for 2012 has been revised downward in each successive year, and now stands just under 90.
An ongoing discussion among some of us analysts at Consumer Energy Report has been about whether having natural resources like oil or coal is actually beneficial to a country (see Are Countries With Vast Oil Resources Blessed or Cursed?, Oil Dependence — Tom Friedman’s False Narrative, and Oil — Easy to Produce, But Not Easy to Buy).
The argument which I’ve made is that a boom in natural resources production can cover up some short-sighted economic policies; in effect, the earnings from producing oil mean that countries do not have to invest in their education or produce their own manufactured goods. The other side of the argument is that it can only be a good thing for new resources to be found.
Leaving aside the question of whether natural resource wealth undermines institutions or causes corruption (and there is good evidence of a resource curse among developing countries) there is one thing that increased production of oil does, once it gets to be a big enough sector of the economy: it pushes up the value of that country’s currency.
All else equal (as economists always have to say), new production of natural resources strengthens the domestic currency. That’s because those resources are either exported or are used to replace imports.
The Difference Between Oil Shale and Oil from Shale Formations
There has been some confusion lately about the overall extent of U.S. oil reserves. Some claim that the U.S. has hundreds of billions or even trillions of barrels of oil waiting to be produced if the Obama Administration will simply stop blocking development. So, I thought it might be a good idea to elaborate somewhat on the issue.
Oil production has been increasing in the U.S., primarily driven by expanding production from the Bakken Shale Formation in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas. The oil that is being produced from these shale formations is sometimes improperly referred to as shale oil. When politicians speak of hundreds of billions or trillions of barrels of U.S. oil, they are most likely talking about the oil shale in the Green River Formation in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Some have assumed that since we are accessing the shale in North Dakota and Texas, the Green River Formation and its roughly 2 trillion barrels of oil resources will be developed next. But these are very different types of resources. CONTINUE»
Two Sides of a Coin In a recent video blog about energy politics, I stated that in my opinion each of the major political parties in the U.S. only gets half of the energy picture. Democrats tend to demonize oil usage, with many believing that we can shift to renewables for our energy needs. To be clear, we can — but not in the way they imagine. They simply underestimate the role oil plays in our lives, and therefore overestimate the ease of a transition. As a result, they feel they have little use for oil companies, and so they are perpetually at war with the oil industry. Of course renewables certainly have a role, and must be the long-term… Continue»
While there might be plenty of oil left below the surface of our planet, it won’t be enough to prevent an oil shock in the short-term future.