Global Oil Production Update: EIA Revises Two Decades of Oil Data

With the most recent release of international oil production data, EIA Washington has revised figures back to 1985. This is one of the most comprehensive revisions I have seen in several years. Generally, the totals were revised slightly lower, and this was especially true for the past decade. Data for the full year of 2011 has now completed. | see: Global Average Annual Crude Oil Production mbpd 2001 – 2011.

Since 2005, despite a phase transition in prices, global oil production has been trapped below a ceiling of 74 mbpd (million barrels per day). New production from new fields and new discoveries comes on line, but, it has not been at a rate fast enough to overcome declines from existing fields. Overall, global decline has been estimated at a minimum of 4% per year and as high as 6+% a year. Given that new oil resources are developed and flow at much slower rates, the existing declines present a formidable challenge to the task of increasing supply. I see no set of factors, in combination, that would take global production of crude oil higher in 2012, or next year, or thereafter.



  1. Draft Bowen writes:


    What do you make of the recent increases in liquid fuel production (mostly NGPL), and the projections that those increases will continue for several years to come?  Will this enable a liquid fuels plateau to continue for, say, another decade?

    I know you prefer to focus on crude oil only, but whether we peak oilers like it or not, it’s possible in many uses to use non-oil liquid fuels to substitute.

    I have been wondering whether this development will invalidate my previous assumption, which was that we’ll see all-liquids production begin to decline globally by 2015 at least 1% annually.

  2. writes:

    The ability to increase liquids is not that surprising, and frankly does as much for world GDP as all supply increases in BTU from other sources. In other words, I am fairly resolute that the world will race to extract new BTU from all sources, but–and this is important–it will not lower the price of petroleum products. Mainly, gasoline and diesel. The increase in NGL has done nothing to restrain the price of oil, and thus, the price of products that run oil based machines.

    Peak oil is just that. And, economically speaking, it’s about the disruption that takes place as a result. We may have already put in the first 5 years of a 20 year energy transition, however, so now that oil is a zero sum game, those who can no longer afford it will have to get by on either less BTU or different BTU. This process is already underway.

    Best, G

  3. Draft Bowen writes:


    Interesting.  Do you see that transition (to lower energy density fuels) then resulting in a fundamental (though gradual) end to industrialism as John Michael Greer and others do?  Or do you see industrial society surviving the transition intact and eventually transitioning to a broader portfolio of alternative energy sources?

    And since alternative BTU sources are more scarce / more expensive / lower quality than oil used to be, will we be past peak global net energy?

  4. stopthesocialism writes:

    So much for peak oil theorists claiming 2005 was the year of “peak oil”. Hubbert’s claim of peak oil in 1995 is now 17 years off and counting. Tar sands, heavy oil, deep water, etc. It’s quite obvious that Hubbert underestimated recoverable resources by several trillion barrels.

  5. writes:

     S.T.C: you’ve already established, in previous comments on this blog, that you either don’t understand or refuse to accept the difference between Resources and Flows. It’s a crucial concept, and I assure you one that everyone working in this area, from scholars to analysts at investment banks, understand.

    In advance, I’ll politely ask that you use your posting time here to engage thoughtfully and not merely re-post alot of the stuff you’ve pasted here before. Thanks.


  6. writes:

     You ask the big questions, and I’ve tried to address a number of these over the past few years. Yes, is the simple answer: a decline of the industrial economy is inevitable, and is in some sense already underway. That is not necessarily a bad thing. We can still have “growth” but in less industrial terms. We can also liquidate and re-use existing pieces of the built environment, which you can think of as assets that contain embedded energy. The scrap metal business, something I’ve written about, is a form of this liquidation.

    My position overall is much more negative than is seen in transition abundance viewpoints, and, also much more positive than is seen in transition scarcity viewpoints. I think we’ve just done the first 5 years of energy transition, and it was rocky indeed. We may be set up now to do the next 5 years in a less disruptive fashion–but that is only because so many oil users have already been taken out by price. Basically, I am using a 20 year timeframe to get through the transition, which includes everything from coping with the loss of oil as the primary energy source globally, to moving to a BTU portfolio that is much less liquid, and is more based on the powergrid.



  7.  peak oil is on a curve, not a spike, rahtard.  Oil production is at or near the top of the curve right now.  How long it stretches the top out is anybody’s guess, but given that frackers know those formations only have 20-30 years in them, I’d say less than one generation.  Unless you are octogenarian, in which case I’m sorry for calling you a rahtard you senile goof, it is important that in this generation, we start to replace fossil fuel use with solar, wind, nuclear and some fuel cell. 

  8. stopthesocialism writes:

    According to Hubbert’s Peak Oil Theory, oil prodution should now be 10 million barrels/day less than the peak set in 1995.

    Quite a bit different than what the EIA says actually happened.

    And for those that suggest peak oil is THIS year, recall that EIA estimated peak oil in 2067 with a 1% growth rate.

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