The Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the Department of Energy (DOE) recently revised its historical global crude oil production numbers. Although I have described supply as basically flat in older posts, there is flat, and then there is flat. Gregor McDonald reported on the revision. You can find the EIA data here.
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
Graph from Gregor McDonald's Global Oil Production Update: EIA Revises Two Decades of Oil Data. Not zero-scaled. This is crude oil plus lease condensates only, so these numbers don't include natural gas liquids or biofuels.
You can easily see that global crude oil production has not increased significantly since 2005. On a related note, the EIA has found some produced crude oil in the United States which they weren't counting, so domestic production is slightly higher than I previously reported in Where Is U.S. Oil Production Going?
(Reuters) - Crude oil production in the United States has been as much as 228,000 barrels per day higher over at least the past year than previously thought, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
The EIA said it had revised its crude oil production estimates higher in its monthly reports after reviewing recent data. Weekly production figures released on Wednesday showed a huge output jump of 228,000 bpd to 6.049 million bpd [barrels-per-day].
"It's not a week-on-week change but comes after we restated our estimates in the monthly report," said Jim Beck, an analyst at the EIA.
"There has been a watershed change in crude production domestically, driven by oil shale."
And from the EIA's latest short-term energy outlook—
Forecast U.S. total crude oil production increases to 6.02 million bbl/d in 2012, an upward revision of 190 thousand bbl/d from last month’s Outlook, and the highest level of production since 1998. Growth in lower-48 onshore crude oil production of 450 thousand bbl/d in 2012 overshadows declines averaging about 30 thousand bbl/d in Alaskan output and 50 thousand bbl/d in GOM production.
The rise in production is driven by increased oil-directed drilling activity, particularly in onshore tight oil formations. The number of onshore oil-directed drilling rigs reported by Baker Hughes increased from 777 at the beginning of 2011 to 1,329 on April 5, 2012.
Drill, baby, drill! Yes, there's been a watershed change in domestic crude oil production domestically, if you can call 6 million barrels-per-day in 2012 a watershed change. This country once produced over 10 million barrels of crude oil every day, but that was in 1970, a long, long time ago. The latest number is the best we've done since 1998.
But that dramatic, watershed change in domestic production has not changed the global oil production picture one iota. At least, not so far. It is perfectly understandable if you're feeling a little skeptical about the wildly optimistic claims of Citigroup VP and former Obama OMB director Peter Orszag (and other Citigroup analysts) asserting that American shale oil production has rendered peak oil concerns moot.
This global crude supply story should be Front Page News, but it's not. Allow me to close with a brief but telling story.
I started writing about "peak oil" in 2005 for The Oil Drum. After a few years there, I left and started doing a weekly column for ASPO-USA. I did that off and on for about two and a half years altogether. During the time I was writing those columns, I became very frustrated. Nobody, it seemed, was listening to me. Imagine that!
So my columns became longer and longer, and more and more technical in nature. I presented deepwater production curves. I cited production decline rates. I analyzed country data until I was blue in the face. I did this, I did that. In short, I became didactic, long-winded, boring and unreadable for a general audience. But nothing had changed. Nobody was listening. At least, nobody of real importance in the wider world, the movers and shakers.
I learned an invaluable lesson from this, a lesson which has served me well ever since. Humans don't want to hear bad news. That's just the way they're built, the way they were designed by Nature. If they're not listening, that's hardly a surprise. Certainly it's nothing to worry about or get frustrated over. If they're not listening to the bad news you're bringing, for God's sake don't try harder. They simply don't care about your carefully crafted, convincing arguments.
If the global oil production curve remains flat for another three years out to 2015, I would say the verdict is definitely in. At that point, after a decade-long plateau, who could possibly argue that peak oil has not arrived? But remembering the invaluable lesson I just spoke of, I know there will be some, perhaps many, who will still deny that we've hit the crude oil production wall.
But I'm not going to worry about their denial because that's just the way it is. Rather than get distraught over the nightmarish Human Condition, I have finally learned to accept it.
Bonus Video — two knuckleheads discuss "peak oil theory"