The worldwide rate of conventional crude oil production peaked at the end of 2004, and has remained between 72 and 74 million barrels per day (mbpd) ever since. The subsequent tripling of oil prices did not bring new oil to market–a classic signal of peak oil. Oil discovery is in long-term decline, and the world has reached the point at which new drilling has failed to overcome the depletion of mature fields.
Adding natural gas liquids, biofuels, synthetic liquid fuel made from tar sands, and other unconventional liquids to conventional crude brings the current “all liquids” total to about 86 mbpd. Unconventional liquids have been responsible for nearly all of the growth in world “oil” production since 2005.
The world has reached a “bumpy plateau” in production, as shown in the following chart.
Source: Oilwatch Monthly, April 2010
If we are now on the peak oil plateau, or close to it, the precise date of the actual peak will not much matter. The absolute global peak of all liquids will only be visible in the rear-view mirror.
The chart below shows the results from a model of past and future oil production, developed by Colin Campbell. The model is based on a detailed study of the world’s major oil fields, with all forms of petroleum taken into account.
Colin Campbell’s World Oil Production Model
Source: ASPO-Ireland Newsletter No. 100 – April 2009
Rembrandt Koppelaar’s Oilwatch Monthly
ASPO International’s collection of oil statistics