Worldwide oil, natural gas reserves inch higher in 2017

Dec. 4, 2017
Worldwide proved crude oil and natural gas reserves grew marginally from a year ago, according to Oil & Gas Journal's annual worldwide survey of reserves.

Conglin Xu

Senior Editor-Economics

Laura Bell

Statistics Editor

Worldwide proved crude oil and natural gas reserves grew marginally from a year ago, according to Oil & Gas Journal's annual worldwide survey of reserves.

New estimates of worldwide crude oil reserves total 1.651 trillion bbl compared with 1.645 trillion bbl from previous estimates (OGJ, Dec. 5, 2016, p. 20). The latest estimates of natural gas reserves total 6.95 quadrillion cf, up 46.6 tcf from those reported a year ago.

It is noteworthy that the increases in total reserves reflect in large part higher estimates for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The newest estimates of non-OPEC oil reserves declined from a year ago, while gas reserves increased.

The published reserves figures rely on survey responses and official updates released by individual countries, which are not provided every year in many cases. OGJ changes its estimate for a particular country only when it receives evidence that a change is in order. Therefore, in a given reserves summary, a year-to-year change—or lack thereof—may not necessarily reflect a change that applies to the calendar year alone.

Preliminary estimates of worldwide crude oil and condensate production during 2017 indicate a slight decline from a year ago, according to OGJ.

Reserves changes

Crude oil reserves for the Asia-Pacific region are down almost 1% to 45.62 billion bbl, mainly because of downward revisions in Indonesia, Thailand, India, and Pakistan. Gas reserves in this region increased 3%.

According to the 2016-17 Indian Petroleum & Natural Gas Statistics report, that country's reserves of crude oil as of Apr. 1 were 4.49 billion bbl, down from 4.62 billion bbl for the previous year. Natural gas reserves increased by more than 2 tcf with the most recent estimate at 45.54 tcf.

The latest figures from the Indonesian Directorate General of Oil & Gas show an 8% decline in this country's oil reserves, but a 3% increase in its gas reserves. Thailand's oil and gas reserves are 12% and 6.5% lower, respectively, than a year ago.

According to the 2017 China Mineral Resources Report, that country's proved crude oil reserves now total 25.63 billion bbl—little changed from a year earlier. The country's gas reserves climbed 4% to 192 tcf.

The biggest regional decline in reserves is for Western Europe. Collectively, oil reserves across the region are estimated 8% lower than previously, and gas reserves estimates are down 3.6%.

Norway's proved crude oil reserves have decreased 3.5% to 6.37 billion bbl, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. Gas reserves declined 4% to 62.93 tcf.

Denmark reported a decline in both oil and gas reserves mainly because of production. The most recent estimates from the Danish Energy Agency put that country's proved gas reserves at 454 bcf and crude and condensate reserves at 439 million bbl.

According to the latest estimates from the UK Oil & Gas Authority, that country's crude oil reserves declined to 2.07 billion bbl from 2.56 billion bbl. Natural gas reserves are 6.2 tcf, down from 7.3 tcf reported a year ago.

In North America, Canada's gas reserves moved down nearly 6%, but its oil reserves are now a bit higher. The country's conventional crude and condensate reserves are now estimated at 5.14 billion bbl compared with last year's 4.32 billion bbl, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. The latest estimate of oil sands reserves places them at 165.4 billion bbl—little changed from a year ago.

Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) reported that Mexico's proved crude oil reserves have decreased 8.7% to 6.63 billion bbl and gas reserves have fallen 18% to 9.88 tcf.

Most countries in Lain America, except Venezuela, registered declines in oil reserves. Their performance on gas reserves are mixed.

Compared with last year, crude oil reserves in Brazil decreased 3% to 12.63 billion bbl and gas reserves declined 12.2% to 13.32 tcf, according to the National Petroleum Agency. Argentina's crude oil reserves declined 1%, while its gas reserves increased 6.4%.

OPEC reserves

Currently, OPEC has a total of 14 member counties. Indonesia suspended its membership at yearend 2016, while Equatorial Guinea became a full member on May 25.

According to OPEC's 2017 annual statistical bulletin, total crude oil reserves held by its current members stood at 1,217 billion bbl, up 7.8 billion bbl from a year ago. Gas reserves reached 3,380 tcf compared with 3,347 tcf a year ago.

Venezuela's crude oil reserves this year reached 302.25 billion bbl. Its gas reserves increased by 1.34 tcf to 202.69 tcf. Saudi Arabia's crude oil reserves dipped to 266.2 billion bbl, while its gas reserves edged up to 304.38 tcf.

The share of the world's oil reserves in OPEC is little changed from a year ago, standing at 73.7%. OPEC controls 48.6% of total global gas reserves.

US reserves

The latest estimates from the US Energy Information Administration show decreases for both crude oil and gas reserves between yearend 2014 and yearend 2015.

In 2015, US crude oil and lease condensate proved reserves decreased 4.7 billion bbl, or 11.8%, to 35.23 billion bbl. Proved reserves of dry gas decreased 61 tcf to 307.7 tcf. For both fuels, the net downward revisions to reserves exceeded both the total discoveries and the estimated production for 2015.

EIA is scheduled this month to release the yearend 2016 estimates of proved reserves. As OGJ went to press last week, these figures were not yet released, and OGJ made its own estimates based on information indicated by OGJ150.

OGJ estimates that, as of yearend 2016, US crude oil and lease condensate proved reserves totaled 35.43 billion bbl, up slightly from the prior year. Dry gas reserves increased to 310 tcf.

Crude oil production in 2017

According to OGJ estimates, OPEC crude oil production this year averages an estimated 32.41 million b/d vs. 32.88 million b/d last year. The year-to-date compliance with supply cuts was 87%, according to the International Energy Agency. The largest year-on-year declines were posted by Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Kuwait, and the UAE. Outputs from Libya and Nigeria, both exempt from supply cuts, are expected to increase 400,000 b/d and 50,000 b/d, respectively, compared with a year ago.

Russia's estimated crude and condensate production this year averaged 11 million b/d, slightly up from 10.92 million b/d in 2016. Russia's year-to-date compliance has averaged 80%. With the exception of Gazprom, all companies have scaled back production.

Kazakhstan crude and condensate production for 2017 is up over 100,000 b/d on a year ago. Azerbaijan 2017 oil production will be lower year-on-year, with compliance averaging 90% for the year-to date.

UK oil production will increase this year, thanks to BP's Schiehallion field and Enquest's Kraken development.

Encouraged by price gains, OGJ forecasts US crude oil production to rise 4.2% in 2017, averaging 9.23 million b/d. Hurricanes caused substantial shut-ins, capping US output.

For 2017 as a whole, Canadian oil production is expected to expand 5.7% from a low base in 2016 when wildfires shut in a significant proportion of Albertan oil output.

Brazilian crude oil production has been increasing robustly this year, with gains stemming mostly from Lula field. Argentinian oil supplies in 2017 will decline about 33,000 b/d on average from the prior year. Mexico production is down nearly 7% this year, due to a deep decline from mature fields and the consecutive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.

Chinese crude oil output is expected to average 3.8 million b/d, 3% lower than in 2016. Total oil supply from 'Other Asia', also declined, following relatively steady production overall in 2016. The largest declines are seen in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand.