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Annual Reserve Changes Part I: EIA And Super-Majors



  • The boost to crude reserves from ultra-deep fields looks to have run its course starting in 2017/2018.
  • Net additions of reserves peaked in 2018 for oil and gas, and total remaining reserves peaked in 2018 for gas and will in 2019 for oil (whether locally or globally time will tell).
  • Total hydrocarbon production had risen slightly over the period until 2019 before falling last year.
  • For natural gas, the proved estimates from the EIA pretty much coincide with the proved plus probability estimates from the BOEM, which is to be expected in a basin approaching exhaustion.

By George Kaplan

EIA US Reserve Estimates

The EIA publishes reserve data for the USA, usually in December of the following year - so that the figures presented here are for 2019. Only proved category reserves are shown and the numbers are based on companies' annual reports and 10-K or 20-F filings (so that last year's numbers are now being addressed as most companies have filed). Not every company is included, otherwise the net acquisitions and dispersals (the yellow bars) would surely have to sum to zero, but most are and all the big players. Net adjustments include revisions (which may be technical or economic) and other adjustments, which are fiddle factors to make the numbers add up but are usually zero or small; improved recovery is here included as discoveries and extensions. The yellow dashed line shows the net change.

Most of the non-producing reserve (shown as open diamonds for the last four years) is proved, undeveloped (PUD) but some may be proved, developed, nonproducing (PDNP), such as wells awaiting a work-over or completion. The percentage for oil and gas is about the same at 26 to 28%. There is also not much difference between the US as a whole, which is mostly unconventional reserves, and the GoM (see below), which is conventional, although ultra-deep reserves are sometimes alternatively categorised. I found this a bit surprising as one is built around many low-flow, rapidly depleting wells and the other on fewer, high flowing wells, often with long plateau periods.

Net additions of reserves peaked in 2018 for oil and gas, and total remaining reserves peaked in 2018 for gas and will in 2019 for oil (whether locally or globally time will tell). This rear is likely to show downgrades at least as big as those in the 2015 price collapse. Whether a recovery

This article was written by

Ron Patterson is a retired Computer Engineer. He spent five years in Saudi Arabia working for Saudi ARAMCO. He has followed the peak oil story since 2000. Ron started blogging on peak oil in 2013. His web site, PeakOilBarrel.com is one of the most followed blogs on the subject. Ron's interest are geology, biology, paleontology, and ecology. His hobbies are blogging and kayak sailing. Ron is now retired and turned over the administration of the site to Dennis Coyne. Ron is still an active participant on the site and guests now provide timely posts.

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Comments (6)

Kaplan does some solid data scouring and presenting. But misses the key metric, by not discussing how price affects reserves.

In addition, he has a pretty bad peak oiler record. Missed the GOM growth and said the EIA was silly, when they ended up being dead on. I just looked at a 2016 post of Srrocco (goldbug peaker) and he endorsed some really crazy comments that had been made about shale gas peaking in 2016. So you gotta really watch any interpretive comments he makes. Don't get blinded by the detailed data. It's just presented history in area charts. Lacks analysis as to how to get insights for the future. And habitually peaker biased, versus straight down the line.
Blackmolly profile picture
Why would Exxon care if they don't keep up with nat gas? Oil is the prize, while nat gas is and has been dirt cheap and unprofitable.
huey35 profile picture
@Blackmolly yes, I agree with your comment. I do not own Exxon except in index funds but nat gas is currently a waste product for most producers.

Also, NGLs are not very profitable unless a company is shipping it or cracking it into other finished products such as Enterprise Product Partners ( which I own). Oil is what producers want to make a profit and green energy policies may make it harder to find and produce in the next 4 years.
@huey35 "green energy policies may make it harder to find and produce in the next 4 years." IF you're correct, then the prices will soar. XOM, CVX, XLE will follow.
Blackmolly profile picture
@huey35 Exxon is currently the only stock that I own outside of my 401k.
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