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Uncertainties following the Abqaiq attack have shrunk the world’s safe oil reserves by around half (part 1)

Uncertainties following the Abqaiq attack have shrunk the world’s safe oil reserves by around half (part 1)

The world has returned to business as usual after the Saudis assured oil markets that production will be back soon and as oil prices have returned to pre-attack levels and even lower, indicating that oil traders focus on a weak global economic outlook.

Fig 1: Abqaiq’s oil price spike
Fig2: Saudi crude oil production drop after the Abqaiq attack

The peak oil barrel blog monitors OPEC’s oil production and published the above graph for September 2019, using data from OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report. The drop from around 9,800 kb/d to 8,500 kb/d translates into an approximate loss in September of 40 mb Arab Light.  Saudi oil stocks were 180 mb before the attack. Maybe tanks are filled with partially processed oil with a high sulfur content.

Iran’s oil exports

From the IEA Monthly Oil Market Report dated 12/9/2019 (2 days before the Abqaiq attack):

Fig 3: US ended sanction waivers in May 2019

The data on Iranian oil exports are fuzzy. On 13 Sep 2019 S&P Global Platts reported 424 kb/d in August (mainly to China and Syria) but warns that Iranian storage is filling up quickly, including 50 mb on tankers (mostly condensate). During the last round of sanctions in 2016 storage reached 55-60 mb.

Fig 4: Iranian oil exports by Platts



In July 2019 the Atlantic Council calculated in an article entitled

Iran’s Crude Oil Exports: What Minimum Is Enough to Stay Afloat?

that Iran needs to export 1.5 mb/d to balance the budget and 720 Kb/d as an absolute minimum in survival mode (withdrawals from the National Development Fund, foreign exchange and gold reserves)

Changed balance of power in Middle East

As Iranian oil exports have dropped below these thresholds, attacks have intensified:

12 May:  Fujairah, UAE, 4 tankers damaged in Gulf of Oman by limpet mines

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Attacks on Abqaiq and Peak oil in Ghawar

The Attacks on Abqaiq and Peak oil in Ghawar

Fig 1: The attackers hit at Fajr prayer time

When the late Houston based investment banker Matt Simmons wrote his 2005 book “Twilight in the desert, the coming Saudi oil shock and the World economy”

Fig 2: Matt Simmons’ book

he could not have imagined that Saudi Arabia would be threatened by a pre-dawn drone & missile attack on a plant in Abqaiq, processing oil from Ghawar, the very oil field Matt had warned suffered from high water cut rates and could not maintain production rates of 5 mb/d (chapter 7). 

One of Matt’s slide shows is here: 

Fig 3: Ghawar’s properties worsen from North to South

Indeed, Saudi Aramco’s prospectus for the London Stock Exchange (Initial Public Offering IPO), published in April 2019, has Ghawar producing a sustainable maximum of only 3.8 mb/d, 1.2 mb/d less than was generally assumed. 

Fig 4: extract from Saudi Aramco’s prospectus

According to the prospectus, the maximum sustainable oil production capacity (MSC) from the first 3 fields (affected by the attacks)  in the above table should be 3.8 + 1 + 1.45 = 6.25 mb/d. 

Fig 5: Graph from the same prospectus showing how Abqaiq is connected to Ghawar, Khurais and Shaybah oil fields

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

2005-2018 Conventional crude production on a bumpy plateau – with a little help from Iraq

2005-2018 Conventional crude production on a bumpy plateau – with a little help from Iraq

This post is an update of a graph done in 2015:

Fig 1: Conventional oil production on bumpy plateau 2005-2014
In http://crudeoilpeak.info/latest-graphs

When adding the new data for 2015-2018 it was discovered that the 1980-2014 data had been changed – mainly increased by up to 1.24 mb/d in 2014 as shown in this graph:

Fig 2: Total EIA oil supplies were retrospectively changed

When (re-)calculating conventional crude oil production the increase in crude oil (528 kb/d in 2014) matters most so the following graph shows this difference.

Fig 3: Changes in EIA crude oil statistics

US shale oil production

This is unconventional oil as the source rock has low permeability and low porosity and therefore needs to be fracked.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Persian Gulf oil export peak after tanker attacks?

Persian Gulf oil export peak after tanker attacks?

Tankers holed and burning in the Gulf of Oman are not a good sign for future oil exports from the Persian Gulf.

Fig 1: Norway’s Front Altair burning with 75,000 tons of naphtha on board en route from Ruwais (UAE) to Kaohsiung (Taiwan)
The tankers Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous movements are shown in this still image taken from an animation obtained on Thursday from social media
Fig 2: Movements of Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous on 13 Jun 2019

Oil exports from the Persian Gulf have been peaking in the last 3 years 2016-2018 at around 22.3 mb/d. That was before the US sanctions on Iran were tightened in the 1st half of 2019.

Fig 3: Persian Gulf oil exports 1965-2018

Exports are defined here as the difference between oil production (crude oil, condensate and NGLs) and oil consumption with latest data taken from the BP Statistical Review published 11/6/2019.

Let’s go through this country by country with a focus on the period since 2005 when global (conventional) crude oil production started to peak.


The drop in Saudi exports after 2005 happened in 2 phases: first, production decline until mid 2007 – which contributed to the oil price shock in 2008 and then secondly lower demand during the 2009 financial crisis. The warnings in Matt Simmons’ book “The coming Saudi oil shock and the world economy” has materialized to some extent without this being recognised by governments, the private sector, the media and the public at large.

30/10/2018 Saudi Update October 2018 http://crudeoilpeak.info/saudi-update-october-2018

5/7/2018 Saudi Arabia was supposed to pump almost 14 mb/d in 2018


Sanctions imposed on Iraq after Desert Storm were replaced by an oil for food program started in 1995. It limited Iraq’s oil exports to around 2 mb/d. The objective of the 2003 Iraq war was remove this cap. It was only in 2011 that this export level was exceeded.

Fig 6: Iran net oil exports

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Australian Fuel Security Review ignores peak oil in China 2015 (part 2)

Australian Fuel Security Review ignores peak oil in China 2015 (part 2)

Coming back to the 2019 Liquid Security Review

Figures 9-11 in part 1 show how dependent Australia has become on fuel imports from South Korea and Japan, even China. The Review is aware of this, as shown on this map:

Fig 18: Australia’s oil supply routes

Note that any military confrontation in the South China Sea would necessitate the re-routing of crude supplies from the Middle East to South Korea and Japan via the Strait of Lombok (East of Bali) or – in the worst case – the Bass Strait as shown on this sketch map of the Centre of Strategic and International Studies (Washington):

Fig 19: Alternative shipping routes for the Sunda and Malacca Straits

Similar detours will be necessary if there is a military confrontation in the Taiwan Strait or around the Korean peninsula. Although tensions have eased, the North Korean problem has not been solved. Particularly vulnerable is the refining complex in Ulsan because of its size.

Conflicts are more likely because Asian oil production has peaked and oil demand is growing:

Fig 20: Homework for all State and Federal governments

More details are in following posts:

15/8/2018   Peak oil in the Asia Pacific (part 3)

12/8/2018   Peak oil in China and the Asia Pacific (part 2)

18/6/2018   Peak oil in Asia Pacific (part 1)

Asia imports around 16 mb/d from the Middle East, not sufficient for its growing demand. Increasing imports now also come from Africa, South and Central America and the Former Soviet Union (FSU)

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Australian Fuel Security Review ignores peak oil in China 2015 (part 1)

Australian Fuel Security Review ignores peak oil in China 2015 (part 1)

Just a week before a Federal election was called the Australian Minister for Energy, Markus Taylor, released an interim report on fuel security on 4th April 2019 for public consultation (hereinafter called “Review”). The announcement of the report release was done without great fanfare, possibly with the intention not to enter a heated election debate.

This report was initiated by the previous Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in May 2018

The last report (National Energy Security Assessment 2011) was done by the previous government (Resource Minister Martin Ferguson) in December 2011

What has changed since then?

In the 1st part of this article we look at Australian graphs. The Review doesn’t show these details.

Australian oil production has further declined, 3 refineries have closed, oil and fuel stocks have dropped by 45% and fuel imports from Asia have surged. China’s oil production peaked in 2015, oil imports doubled and the South China Sea has been militarized  to secure oil supply routes. Oil prices went through a roller coaster from $110 in 2011 to $30 in Jan 2016 and back up to $70 now. It seems surging US shale oil production can’t keep prices constant at reasonable levels. The media hype about the US being a swing producer isn’t justified.

Fig 1: Australia in peak oil mode since 2000

Of course, the government doesn’t like the word “peak oil”. To be fair, the Review mentions that Australia’s oil production is in decline while consumption has increased (p 26). The following graph shows monthly production:

Fig 2: Crude oil, condensate and LPG production

The uptick in condensate production is a result of increasing offshore gas production. Note that condensate and LPG have lower energy content per barrel.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

NSW power imports in January 2019 heatwave exceed 2 GW, drive up electricity prices

NSW power imports in January 2019 heatwave exceed 2 GW, drive up electricity prices

Maximum demand for electricity increased from 9,500 MW on 13 Jan 2019 (16:00) to a whopping 14,000 MW on 17 Jan 2019 (17:30).

Fig 1: Heatwave pushing up power demand
20190117 New South Wales
Pic 2: Power generation graph downloaded from Open NEM website

Downloading the data in XLS format allows us to restack the above graph to show more details on coal:

Fig 3: NSW power generation with coal stacked first

“Black coal net of pumps” means that off-peak pumping for hydro storage has been deducted from the total coal generation. We see that the off-peak pumps replace only part of the main hydro generation (around 1/3) so Snowy would run dry without replenishment by rain.

Coal fired power generation reached around 9,000 MW by 1 pm and continued at that level until 10 pm. That is 93% of the maximum theoretical capacity of 9,660 MW as per following table:

Fig 4: Capacities of coal fired power plants in NSW

Note that Liddell’s capacity was reduced to 1,800 MW (which seems to be 4×450 MW). However, the Australia Institute has only 4×350 MW as per December 2018.
This aging coal plant is scheduled to be closed in 2022 due to ongoing technical problems.

Let’s zoom into generation excluding coal:

Fig 5: NSW power imports and generation without coal

When the demand peak happens between 16:00 and 18:00 solar output is going down. Imports can’t increase due to capacity constraints of interconnectors and also generation availability in other States so hydro has to cover the peak on top of gas.


 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Qatar peak oil

Qatar peak oil

Qatar announces it will leave OPEC


Qatar to withdraw from OPEC in January 2019
Speaking at a news conference in the capital Doha, al-Kaabi said: “The withdrawal decision reflects Qatar’s desire to focus its efforts on plans to develop and increase its natural gas production from 77 million tonnes per year to 110 million tonnes in the coming years.”

“They say it has nothing to do with the blockade on Qatar and that they have been thinking about it for several months now,” Bellis said, referring to a diplomatic blockade on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates ( UAE ), Egypt and Bahrain.

Since 2013, the amount of oil Qatar produced has steadily declined from about 728,000 barrels per day in 2013 to about 607,000 barrels per day in 2017, or just under two percent of OPEC’s total output.

Qatar_CandC_liquids_Jan1994-Aug2018Fig 2: All liquids production with EIA data


Fig 3: Crude production and exports (Jodi data)


Fig 4: Qatari oil and gas fields (main oil fields: Dukhan, Al Shaheen, Idd el Shargi)


Fig 5: Crude, condensate and NGL production

OPEC’s Statistical Bulletin


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


European oil consumption after North Sea Peak Oil

European oil consumption after North Sea Peak Oil


On the streets of Paris: 24 Nov 2018

Fuel-protests_24Nov2018Fuel price protests on the Champs Elysees



20 Nov 2018: The “gilets jaunes” have a hard time to convince truck drivers to join their movement

They were more successful on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, where blocked roads and petrol rationing resulted in empty supermarket shelves, highlighting how vulnerable our just-in-time society is.

Reunion_barrages_25Nov201825/11/2018 Road blocks in Réunion

Reunion_fuel-shortage_Nov2018Petrol lines in St Denis, €20 rationing, shops closed, shelves emptying, medical supply disruptions

Oil statistics

European oil production peaked in 2000 at almost 7 mb/d, with a production plateau above 6.8 mb/d lasting for 7 years between 1996 and 2002. 17 years after the peak, production was around half of what it was at peak.

Europe_production_imports_1965-2017Fig 1: Europe oil consumption, net oil imports and production

BP’s definitions are as follows: “Oil production includes crude oil, shale oil, tar sands and NGLs (natural gas liquids – the liquid content of natural gas where this is recovered separately). It excludes liquid fuels from other sources such as biomass and derivatives of coal and natural gas.

Oil consumption is from inland demand plus international aviation and marine bunkers and refinery fuel and loss. Consumption of biogasoline (such as ethanol), biodiesel and derivatives of coal and natural gas are also included.

Notes: Differences between these world consumption figures and world production statistics are accounted for by stock changes, consumption of non-petroleum additives”

In Fig 1 and 3, net oil imports are calculated as the difference between production and consumption.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Saudi Update October 2018

Saudi Update October 2018

We do not know where the Khashoggi case will go but what is happening in Saudi Arabia is  important for the world.

Jodi data up to Aug 2018, released 19/10/2018  http://www.jodidb.org

Major_crude_exporters_Oct2018Fig 1: Saudi Arabia is crude exporter #1

Note that these are gross exports. The US (which is a net importer of crude) is shown for comparison.

SaudiArabia_crude_prod_exports_2002-Aug2018_JodiFig 2: Saudi crude production and exports

Crude oil exports (red line) have been on a bumpy plateau between 7-8 mb/d since 2011, but in 2018 were actually lower than in 2005 when global crude production first peaked. Increases in production (black line) were modest (compared to Saudi’s claimed reserves of 266 Gb) and mainly used domestically:

Saudi_crude_use_exports_2002-Aug2018Fig 3: Use of Saudi crude production (stacked)

The light green area is stock build, the dark red area stock draw (sitting on top of the production curve) and used as refiner intake. See Fig 8 for more details.

Saudi_direct_burn_2009-Aug2018Fig 4: Saudi direct crude burn in power plants

This is highly seasonal between 300 kb/d in winter and 600 kb/d in summer.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Sydney playing risky and costly metropoly games amid oil price fears (part 1)

Sydney playing risky and costly metropoly games amid oil price fears (part 1)

Sydney must be the only city in the world which closes its most modern heavy rail tunnel, 12.5 kms, designed for its ubiquitous double deckers and used by long distance commuters for an unacceptable long period of 7 months, only to be downgraded to narrow body, seat starved single deck trains, incompatible with the whole of Sydney’s rail system and touted to the public as a “metro”.


Fig 1: Escalators to underground platforms 5&6 at Epping station in early October 2018


Fig 2: First train in Epping – Chatswood tunnel, was not missed by then Premier Rees

The rail tunnel was opened in Feb 2009, 10 years after it was first announced in the Action for Transport 2010 plan. It was in operation for just 9.5 years. That is the life-span of Sydney’s rail infrastructure.


Fig 3: NSW government’s promotional video

The NSW government’s propaganda machinery even had to employ a well-known TV presenter to sell their replacement bus services to frustrated passengers. Here is the bus job ahead:


Fig 4: Standing only in a 17:30 double decker to Epping via Macquarie Park in July 2018

This article continues research done 4 years ago:

4/1/2015 Sydney mismanages transition to driver-less single deck trains (part 2)

30/12/2014 Sydney plans to dismantle rail infrastructure built just 6 years ago (part 1)

Would the government even dare to think closing the Lane Cove road tunnel which runs parallel to the rail tunnel, for that period? Not much public resistance was put up against the rail tunnel closure. After 20 years of 2 consecutive governments back-flipping on various permutations of rail links in Sydney’s North-West, the electorate has obviously resigned, knowing that the opposition is just as bad as the government of the day. In a certain sense Sydney’s rail planning seems to mirror the revolving door syndrome of Federal politics on climate change and renewable energy.


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What happened to crude oil production after the first peak in 2005?

What happened to crude oil production after the first peak in 2005?

The IEA (in Paris) proudly announced in its latest September 2018 Monthly Oil Market Report that global supplies (of liquids) have reached 100 mb/d in August, an impressive figure. What matters, however, is crude oil production, something the IEA does not show in its monthly reports (only OPEC’s crude oil production is given). We therefore look at data of the US Energy Information Administration EIA which go up to May 2018 at the time of writing this article.

As shown in Fig 1, it is clear that the world’s crude production had a distinctive kink in 2005 which looked like a peak at the time of the financial crisis 2008/09. So what has happened since then? How successful was money printing to rescue the oil production system?


In Fig 1, countries are stacked in the order given in Fig 2 where on the left we have countries which have declined since 2005 (red columns group A) and on the right we have countries which increased production after 2005 (green columns group B)


Group A
Countries where average oil production Jan-May 2018 was lower than the average in 2005. At the bottom is Mexico with the highest rate of decline. This group started to peak in 1997, entering a long bumpy production plateau at around 25 mb/d, ending – you guessed it – in 2005. This is down now to 16 mb/d, a decline of 700 kb/d pa (-2.8% pa).Decline-group_1994-May2018

Group B

Countries where average oil production Jan-May 2018 was higher than the average in 2005. At the top of the stack are Iraq and the US, where growth was highest. Group B compensated for the decline in group A and provided for growth above the red dashed line in Fig 1.
The 2018 data have not been seasonally adjusted.

In group B we have a subgroup of countries which peaked after 2005

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


Peak oil in China and the Asia Pacific (part 2)

Peak oil in China and the Asia Pacific (part 2)

South China Sea: ‘Leave immediately and keep far off’


Fig 1: U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane overflying disputed Spratly islands



Fig 2: Subi reef location in the South China Sea


Fig 3: CSIS image of Subi reef low tide elevation (976 acres reclaimed). https://amti.csis.org/subi-reef/


Fig 4: USGS 2010 assessment of undiscovered oil resources

According the USGS there is not much oil in the South China Sea. China is securing its oil supply routes as future oil imports are going to increase after production peaked 2010-2015.


On average, Chinese oil consumption grew exponentially (!) between 1982 and around 2010 at 6.5% pa. In some years, there were huge variations around this trend. For example in 2004 oil consumption increased by almost 1 million barrels/day, 500 kb/d above the long term trend. This spike was caused by additional fuel oil needed for back-up power generators as there were wide spread power shortages. In the following (Katrina) year 2005 consumption growth dropped to just 150 kb/d as fuel shortages started.


Smoke and Mirrors in China’s Oil Statistics
June 2008
In recent years, oil product shortages in China have frequently caught the attention of the world. In August 2005, China’s southern manufacturing heartland of Guandong was plagued by closed service stations, fuel rationing and hours-long gas queues, and authorities were forced to send thousands of police to petrol stations in Guangzhou to prevent massive social unrest as drivers scrambled to fill their tanks (Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2005). In May 2006, a diesel shortage hit Guangdong again and lasted for half a month until a 270,000 ton emergency stock of gasoline and diesel fuel were allocated to the local market by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) (Xinhua News Agency, May 23, 2006). 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…



Sydney go on your rooftops and save power for 3 million new immigrants

Sydney go on your rooftops and save power for 3 million new immigrants

The latest report “Integrated System Plan” of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) assumes that power consumption on Australia’s East Coast will stay rather flat despite government engineered immigration resulting in a population growth of 1.5% pa. This implies a call on all existing electricity consumers to save and provide power for all newcomers.

Let’s first have a look at what is happening with power supplies.

On Monday 16th July 2018, at 18:30, in the middle of winter with a temperature of 12.6 ֯C, total NSW power demand reached almost 12 GW, 300 GW short of 12.3 MW experienced in summer on 7/1/2018 at 16:30.

NSW-power-demand-price_16Jul2018Fig 1: NSW power demand vs wholesale electricity prices

Before and during peak demands we see the spiking of electricity prices The average prices including peaks are 30% higher than the average price without the peaks.

Fig 2: Composition of residential electricity bills

The peak demand drives up the wholesale electricity component of bills for residential customers. What do Federal and State government do about it? The Feds are running an ambitious immigration program and the States are approving massive, energy consuming apartment projects.

PolyhorizonFig 3: Polyhorizon, “First highrise opens” Northern District Times 13 June 2018

These structures push up peak demand as shown in this graph of the Parramatta Council:

Parramatta_CBD_peak_electricity_demand_existing_proposedFig 4: Peak demand of skyscrapers

Now back to the data for the 16th July 2018. NSW black coal power generation was around 7.6 GW and power imports from Queensland and Victoria 1.9 GW. In the previous week, on Thursday 12 July 2018, imports reached a whopping 2.2 GW. It is crystal clear that NSW is the Premier energy guzzler State in Australia and utterly dependent on power (and also gas) from neighbouring States.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Saudi Arabia was supposed to pump almost 14 mb/d in 2018

Saudi Arabia was supposed to pump almost 14 mb/d in 2018


We have to dig a little bit into history to see the context of this remarkable tweet whereby we have to switch between events and later, delayed analysis with the benefit of hindsight.

10 years ago GW Bush visited Saudi Arabia:

President Bush stands with Saudi Prince Salman, right, brother of Saudi King Abdullah, while watching a traditional sword dance at the Al Murabba Palace and Natural History Museum in Al Janadriyah, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Fig 2: Sword dance in January 2008

15 Jan 2008
“I will say to him [King Abdullah] that, ‘If it’s possible, your majesty, consider what high prices is doing to one of your largest customers,’” Bush said. “In other words, the worst thing that can happen to an oil-producing nation is that the price of oil causes the economy to slow down, because that will inevitably lead to fewer purchases [of oil].”

The above ABC News story includes a reference to an interview which co-anchor Terry Moran had with Bush who noted: “If they don’t have a lot of additional oil to put on the market, it is hard to ask somebody to do something they may not be able to do.”

The original video link is broken but the wording has been documented by Gail the Actuary (Atlanta, Georgia) in this Oildrum post.

Obviously, Bush had realized what was going on. 3 years earlier he had already tried it, when oil prices went through the $50 mark.

26 Apr 2005
CRAWFORD, Tex., April 25 – President Bush discussed the surge in oil prices with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Monday, but focused on a plan by the Saudis to increase their oil-pumping capacity over the next decade rather than on any short-term efforts to bring prices down.

Saudi Arabia’s plan, which it began discussing publicly weeks ago, calls for spending up to $50 billion to increase its maximum sustainable production capacity to 12.5 million barrels a day by 2009, and to 15 million in the subsequent decade, from about 10.8 million barrels now. The Saudis are currently pumping about 9.5 million barrels a day.


This was the plan:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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