Peak Non-OPEC in 2010, Officially Speaking?

You will recall the big dust up between the Guardian newspaper and IEA Paris in November of last year. The newspaper broke the story that the international energy agency had either been fudging data or at the very least downplaying data, in an effort to diminish the urgency of peak oil. The Guardian claimed to have statements from not one but two whistleblowers, either working or previously working inside IEA. More sensational was the claim for motive: the IEA had been putting sunny forecast spin on top of the data at the request of US government in Washington.

While the actual claims of the whistleblowers have never been adjudicated (and likely never will be), the more relevant takeaway from the incident is that IEA rather importantly suggested that Non-OPEC production would peak in 2010. As I wrote back in November, we needed no whistleblower to deduce the absurdity of an energy agency that claims a 2010 peak in Non-OPEC–which produces 60% of global supply–while maintaining that global peak would not arrive until after 2030. That is just silly.

I bring this up today because the EIA in Washington this week, at least on the matter of Non-OPEC, appears to be in agreement with IEA that peak arrives this year:

The EIA forecast for non‐OPEC supply growth has important implication for the world oil market. The expected decline in non‐OPEC supply in 2011 returns to a trend in non‐OPEC supply seen prior to 2009 … Declining liquids production from traditional sources of non‐OPEC supply raises the importance of new centers of supply growth and strains long‐established relationships between producers and consumers. Falling production in Mexico has led to a large decline in oil exports to the United States, forcing some U.S. refiners to locate new sources of supplies. The friction caused by these dislocations can contribute to elevated oil prices, as new relationships form and liquids flow from different sources.

Readers of this blog and subscribers to my newsletter know my view: the peak year for Non-OPEC was 2004 at a sustained annual average of 42.068 mbpd. While it’s always possible that we could hit that level on a monthly basis (and we did so in October of 2008–at least until the revisions start!), it’s highly unlikely Non-OPEC would be able to sustain that number for an entire year. The declines from existing fields are too strong now, and the new finds are too onerous, expensive, and slow to change the well-established trend. However, it’s always amusing to hear what the two energy agencies think–officially speaking, that is.


Document:  Short‐Term Energy Outlook Supplement: Outlook for Non‐OPEC Supply in 2010‐2011.(pdf) – January 2010, EIA Washington