Contents: Overview, The
Calculations, Growing Awareness,
Production of All Hydrocarbons
Source: C.J. Campbell,
The above is Dr.
Campbell’s forecast of the global production of oil and gas,
from both conventional and non-conventional sources, out to 2050.
The production of
conventional oil holds fairly steady at close to its maximum
until about 2010, and then enters inexorable decline, driven by the
limit of the world’s resource of this type of oil. The combined production
of deepwater and polar oil also peaks around this date.
Production of extra
heavy and tar sands oil expands, but is not sufficient to offset
the declining output of conventional and related oils.
gas production is likely to reach a plateau around 2015,
set mainly by resource constraints, which can hold till about 2040
before decline sets in. Production of non-conventional gas
continues to increase.
of the fall in production of conventional oil, and the plateau in
conventional gas, leads to a production peak in all world hydrocarbons
These coming hydrocarbon
production peaks (firstly, of all non-OPEC oil; then of all
oil; and finally of all hydrocarbons) will place massive strains on
the economies of the world. Market signals
alone will provide insufficient warning of the problems ahead. Mitigating the effects,
and handling the political consequences, will require high levels
of public comprehension, and international co-operation.
For more detail
on the coming hydrocarbon production peaks, and the historical context,
see The Oil &
The forecast of
conventional oil production given above is based on
a detailed appraisal of the amount of oil in the world by country,
both discovered and yet-to-find, and on calculations of the rate that
this oil can be produced. These calculations are unquestionably among
the most detailed and precise currently published.
on the rate that non-conventional oil can increase are
based on known projects, and on reasonable extrapolations into the
future. Non-conventional oil faces a number of fundamental constraints
(cost, investment requirements, energy requirement, energy payback
times, other input requirements, and pollutant
emissions, including elevated
CO2 levels.) More work is needed to define the various
limiting growth rates that non-conventional oils might achieve.
The production profile
of conventional gas is less certain than that for conventional
oil, but will be similar to that shown, and is resource-limited in
the medium term.
For the future production
of non-conventional gas, the same remarks apply as for
and details of these calculations, see The
Calculations. The outcome of the calculations is tabulated
For more general
introductory and teaching material on global oil, its discovery and
depletion, refer to the ASPO
picture of the future of oil and gas is serious, but not yet widely understood. This is partly because
the history of Humankind has been one of technical progress, and changing
energy supplies, so warnings of approaching resource limits tend to get discounted.
this ignorance of the current global oil situation is extraordinary.
The method for calculating the date of the peak in conventional oil
production has been known for over a century, and the key piece of
information required, the estimate of the world’s original endowment
of conventional oil, has remained essentially unchanged for 40 years.
As a result, almost
any book on energy from the 1970’s correctly
put the date
of global conventional oil peak around the year 2000. The only significant
change since then has been on the demand side: the oil shocks of the
70’s flattened anticipated demand and somewhat delayed the peak.1
the world has
largely forgotten what it knew in the 1970’s. A few dedicated
analysts kept the information alive, like monks in the Dark Ages,2
but as oil
experts left the business
most new entrants
result, a complete oil mythology has recently arisen. This holds that:
- Proved reserves guarantee oil supply for at least 40 years, and
gas for 60 years.
- The world is “running into oil”, not out.
- Technology and price will always be able to push back the
- Past oil forecasts were wrong; forecasting oil’s future
easy to counter these views (see The
Oil & Gas Situation), but at
present they are deeply entrenched, and are purveyed by most governments,3
and by many
advisors to government.4
there is now a growing awareness of the oil and gas realities. A number
of retired oil executives are on record on depletion,5
and also a member of the United States Geological
Survey.6 Technical papers on the global oil endowment are widely available
(e.g., that by BP’s Manager of Reserves and Resources,7
from the USGS, and
elsewhere 8), and there are recent books on the topic.9
In addition, at least one one institution, the BGR in Germany, is
addressing the issue on a technically sound basis.10
misleading information is still offered to governments, and the latter
are too poorly informed to detect the errors. Examples include the
submission to the European Parliament by BP that contains serious errors;11 the recent response to
the UK House of Lords, also
by BP, quoting
simply the ‘reserves-to-production’
(R/P ratio) reassurance of “40 years of oil and 60 years of gas”;12
submissions by Exxon to the UK's PIU Energy Review and the EU's DG-TREN,
which likewise emphasise R/P figures, and fail to mention production
peaking;13 and recent Shell's reassurance to European
leaders of "100 years' of gas".14
such dis-information, institutional understanding of the depletion
of the world’s conventional hydrocarbon resources is slowly increasing.
But it is late in the day to take effective action.
to the situation are listed under Solutions.
It will require courage, and high levels of international co-operation, to manage the hydrocarbon supply
difficulties that lie ahead.
For further information
see the references below, starting perhaps with the Scientific
American article,8 and then those of Bauquis 5 and Harper;7 the
two academic articles from Reading,8 and the books by Campbell,
and Deffeyes.9 Additional sources are listed under ASPO
2. Word of mouth: Hubbert to Ivanhoe to Campbell; Hubbert to Deffeyes;
Warman to Campbell.
The UK’s DTI, the US’ EIA.
4. For example:
- Mr. J.V. Mitchell, Royal
Institute of International Affairs (RIIA), London; sometime consultant
to the EU’s Directorate-General for Transport and Energy (DG-TREN).
- Mr M. Keay, formerly UK Dept. of Trade & Industry, then
RIIA, now Chief Executive, World Coal Institute;
Specialist Adviser to the UK House of Lords Select Committee on the
European Union, considering the EU’s Green Paper (Nov. 2000) ‘Towards
a European Strategy for the Security of Energy Supply’. (Select
Committee’s Report: Energy supply: How secure are we? Session
2001-02 14th Report, HL Paper 82, published 12th
- Professor P.R. Odell,
Specialist Adviser to the UK House of Commons Trade and Industry Committee
examining ‘UK Security of Energy Supply’, (Second Report of
Session 2001-02, HC 364-I, published 7th February, 2002).
- Dr. W. Schollnberger,
Panel member to EU DG-TREN Conference on
‘Energy Safety & Security in Europe’, Barcelona, 18th-19th
In understanding this provision of advice, it is
believed that Mitchell, Keay, and Odell have no geological background,
no access to industry oil reserves data, and little expertise to carry
out calculations on the global recoverable resource, or to make informed
technical comment on the analyses of others. To put it bluntly, much
of the current oil debate is between scientists who have good data,
and an understanding
of the geological constraints, and non-scientists who do not. The ear of government is still
mostly with the latter, despite the strenuous efforts of the former
over more than the last decade to bring the facts to government attention.
Schollnberger is a special case. Potentially he has access to adequate
data, but he is not part of BP’s resources evaluation team;
and makes his own assessment of global recoverable oil that is out
of line with virtually all other estimates. His high case, under industry
central assumptions, corresponds to a global recovery factor over 100%.
5. Examples include:
- J.F. Bookout (CEO of Shell Oil Co. from 1976 to 1988):
Two Centuries of Fossil Fuel
Energy, Episodes, 12/4, pp 257-262,
- Bowlin; also Robert Anderson, senior executives of Atlantic Richfield
article was at: www.arco.com/corporate/news/p020999.htm).
- L.F. Ivanhoe (former Chief Earth Scientist, Occidental
Petroleum): Updated Hubbert Curves Analyze World Oil Supply. World Oil, November, 1996, pp 91-94.
F. Barnabé (Chief Executive of ENI): ‘Cheap Oil: Enjoy it While
it Lasts’, Interview in Forbes Global Business and Finance, June
15 1998, pp 22-24.
- W.H. Ziegler (former Head of Exploration Studies and
Senior Group Advisor, Petrofina; & Manager, Regional Assessment
Group, Esso Exploration Europe): quoted on pp 22-26 of The Coming
Oil Crisis, C.J. Campbell, MultiScience & Petroconsultants
- J.H. Laherrère (former Deputy Head of Exploration,
TOTAL, France): ): Numerous publications.
- C.J. Campbell (former Exploration Manager in several
companies, including Amoco and Fina): Numerous publications.
- P-R. Bauquis, Special Advisor to the Chairman, TotalFinaElf. See: A Re-appraisal of Energy Supply and Demand in 2050, Oil & Gas Science & Technology, Rev. IFP,
Vol. 56 (2001), No. 4, pp 389-402. An excellent paper covering a range
of important issues.
6. L. Magoon, USGS Open File Report, 00-320
7. F. Harper. Ultimate Hydrocarbon Resources in the
21st< Century. Presentation at the American Assoc. of
Petroleum Geologists conference: 'Oil & Gas in the 21st Century',
Sept. 12-15th 1999, Birmingham, UK. (To my knowledge, the AAPG did
not publish proceedings from this conference, so copies should be
requested directly from the author.
- C.J. Campbell and J.H. Laherrère. The End of Cheap
Oil. Scientific American, March
1998, pp 60-65; (and see the following papers in the same issue on
- Data published annually by consultancies, including
- See sources referenced in:
- R. Bentley. Global oil and gas depletion:
an overview. Energy Policy, Vol. 30, No. 3, February 2002,
- R.W. Bentley, R.H. Booth, J.D.
Burton, M.L. Coleman, B.W. Sellwood, G.R. Whitfield. Perspectives
on the Future of Oil. Energy Exploration and Exploitation,
Vol. 18, Nos. 2 & 3, pp 147-206, Multi-Science Publishing Co.
- Data from ‘official’ sources (EIA, IEA, etc); but
these need very careful handling if they are not to be mis-interpreted.
Eschew all public domain ‘proved reserves’ data.
9. The Coming Oil Crisis, C.J. Campbell, MultiScience &
Petroconsultants S.A., 1998;
ISBN: 0 90652211 0.
Hubbert’s Peak. K.S. Deffeyes,
Princeton University Press, 2001; ISBN 0-691-09086-6.
The Hydrogen Economy.
J. Rifkin. Tarcher/Putnam, 2002, ISBN 1-58542-193-6.
10. BGR (Bundesanstalt
für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe ), Germany, see:
www.bgr.de; and publications.
Schollnberger to the EU Parliament (see Note 4, above). For comments
on the errors in this paper, see Footnote 6 of the Energy Policy
paper referenced in Note 8, above.
12. UK House of Lords report: Session 2001-02;
14th Report, Select committee on the European Union: (see Note 4, above). Oral evidence paragraph 230,
Professor P. Davies, Chief Economist, BP, page 79.
13. Exxon Mobil submissions to: The UK Cabinet Office (PIU)
2001/2 Energy Review,
ExxonMobil.pdf); and to the EU Directorate-General for Transport and Energy, “ExxonMobil
Contribution to the Debate on the [November 2000] Green Paper: Towards
a European Strategy for the Security of Energy Supply.” For example, the latter has: “Commentators
tend to focus on reserve to production ratios … 40 years for oil and
61 years for gas. However, such ratios fail to take account of probable
reserves and reserves yet to be discovered. In addition, [there are
Orinoco] heavy oils … and tar sands [and gas-to-liquids]. On this
basis, R/P ratios in excess of 100 years will likely be achieved.
Resource availability is simply not the issue.”
If availability means simply ‘what is out there’, Exxon's
statement is strictly true. But if availability includes the rate
at which these resources can be made available, then Exxon’s submission
is very misleading, as there is no mention of the mid-point peaking
of conventional oil, nor of technical constraints in the production
of the non-conventionals.
14. A recent Shell presentation (IAEE Conference, Aberdeen, 2002)
shows Europe surrounded by gas sources adequate for over 100
years; but fails to mention either production peaking, or the fact
that other hungry regions, such as the U.S. and Asia, already have
plans in place to access this gas.
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