World oil production to peak in 15-25 years, AAPG told

The world is consuming oil at a rate that will result in oil production peaking in 15 to 25 years, a group of geoscientists told the American Association of Petroleum Geologists' annual convention in Long Beach, Calif.

Alan Petzet
Chief Editor-Exploration

LONG BEACH, Apr. 4 -- The world is consuming oil at a rate that will result in oil production peaking in 15 to 25 years, a group of geoscientists told the American Association of Petroleum Geologists' annual convention in Long Beach, Calif.

When world oil production reaches the peak by 2020-30, the rate will be 90-100 million b/d, only 10-20% higher than it was in 2005. Depending on the level of world oil resources, which is highly uncertain, that peak is likely to last 20-30 years before production begins its ultimate decline.

The estimates are released for the first time following an AAPG Hedberg Research Conference held in November 2006 in Colorado Springs.

Richard Nehring, chairman of that conference, said present estimates of conventional and unconventional world oil resources range from 3.4 to 5 trillion bbl. "These estimates of technologically and economically feasible world oil potential fall in the optimistic range of published estimates of world oil resources," Nehring said.

The world took more than 140 years to consume the first trillion barrels produced since the Drake well in Pennsylvania in 1859. Consumption of the second trillion barrels will occur within only 30 years.

Recovery growth, not discoveries, has been the major contributor to world oil production in the last 25 years. Growth in recovery above the initial estimates has been shown to be two and a half times internationally and more than eight times in the US.

Worldwide, about 300 billion bbl of known oil, or about a 10-year supply, is either undeveloped or not on production.

About 50% of the world's oil has characteristics acceptable for enhanced oil recovery application, but EOR is currently applied to about 11%.

Extrapolating past trends of recovery growth from existing fields adds about 1 trillion bbl to the overall ultimate production expectation, about 200 billion bbl of which would come from EOR.

Sustaining higher production rates will require higher costs, the research group found.

The 75 conference participants came from 18 countries on all six populated continents.

Contact Alan Petzet at alanp@ogjonline.com.

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