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Will covid-19 delay peak oil?

Will covid-19 delay peak oil?

With global demand having fallen by about 29 million barrels per day from a year ago, it seems like this pandemic might delay peak oil production while the pandemic and consequent depression lasts, since so much less oil is being consumed. Since storage is getting full, many oil producers are being forced to shut down wells, since there’s nowhere to put the oil or demand for it.

Shut down wells may produce less oil after being restarted

Shutting in wells can reduce oil production when restarted, but that doesn’t happen every time.  Sometimes you get lucky.  More often though, the sub-surface gremlins in the reservoirs are going to get you.  The net effect will likely be less oil and gas than there was before.

With prices so low and storage so full, some producers are shutting down wells. But the problem with that is it can have long term consequences, damaging the reservoir so that in the future not all of the oil can be produced (Brower 2020).

In addition to reservoir problems, especially tar sands, conventional and other wells face restart issues with the pipes, valves, separators, pumps, pipelines, older wells, and so many other technical problems that at least about 10-20% plus a loss of ability to reopen marginal projects.  Depending how the game is played by the industry, the damage can be twice that, easily, especially in offshore and ultra-deep offshore wells, where methane hydrates will form immediately in seafloor pipelines and plug them. These wells could be 100 times more difficult to restart than a shale well (Patzek 2020).

Operations in the Gulf of Mexico will likely shut last, since the miles of pipelines that carry the oil along the sea floor to processing facilities on shore can clog if shut off for too long.

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