Global Oil Production Update

Jan.16.11 | About: The United (USO)

For oil production data-heads the EIA’s decision to terminate the International Petroleum Monthly has produced a small tremor. Yes, the data supposedly will be available each month through one of EIA’s databrowsers. However, these embedded browsers are actually not as user-friendly as the EIA might assume. For chart-makers like myself, we need Excel files. And many of us hope (and assume) there will be an extractable Excel file for global crude oil production data once the transition is made. For now, EIA has just produced its last IPM (December 2010) which updates data through October of 2010. Let’s take a look at the most recent revisions, and latest production levels (click to enlarge).

A new post-crisis global oil production high was reached in October, at 74.08 mbpd (million barrels per day). It should be cautioned however that downward revisions every month this year have taken away previous monthly peaks, and we will have to wait until next year to see how 2010 settles out. Volatility in both production (and data gathering) in regions from Canada to the North Sea have produced wild swings this year. Meanwhile, Non-OPEC supply is getting another boost from Russia, even as the rest of Non-OPEC languishes.

I wrote about some of the broader issues relating to EIA’s handling of data this week in an expanded post for The Oil Drum. | see: Secrecy By Complexity: Obfuscation in Energy Data, and The Primacy of Crude Oil. One of the pleasures of doing a guest post at “TOD” is the number of smart comments that populate the chatboard. The Oil Drum maintains a very high signal-to-noise ratio in the comment stream, which means most of the remarks helpfully amplify or educate others on the subject at hand. Unsurprisingly, the fundamental problem created by the EIA’s inclusion of biofuels and natural gas liquids in their forecasts for future oil supply was well understood, and well known at TOD.

With the recent data now in for October 2010, let’s also update the average annual crude oil production chart. | see: Global Average Annual Crude Oil Production mbpd 2001 – 2010 (click to enlarge).

Global crude oil production in 2010 has been benefiting from two factors. One, the financial collapse and reduced global oil demand of 2008-2009 reduced pressure on supply, and allowed for projects to come on stream. Second, 2010 average oil prices were the second highest ever, at $79.48 per barrel. That particular price is just high enough for the world to fight decline, from existing fields. However, as you can see in the chart, with only two more months of data yet to come through on 2010 it’s a near certainty that–for a fifth year in a row–global oil production will come in below the peak year of 2005.

Further Reading: EIA’s Announcement of the Discontinuation of International Petroleum Monthly.