The Oil Age Journal


This paper describes the data and methodology used in the author’s forecast model for oil and gas production. This models the world’s 64 largest oil and gas producing countries individually, plus a category for remaining countries. For oil, forecasts primarily cover production of ‘Regular Conventional’ oil (oil in fields, less Arctic, deep offshore, and very heavy oil); and separate forecasts are made for the production of NGLs and the non-conventional oils. The modelling involves the following steps:

– Obtain data on past production by year by hydrocarbon category since production started for each of the 65 regions modelled.

– Likewise, assemble estimates on the total quantities of oil and gas likely to be produced by each region by the year 2100. A number of techniques can be used for this, including extrapolation of the following: ‘creaming curves’ of oil or gas discovery – i.e., plots of discovery over time vs. number of exploration (‘new field wildcat’) wells drilled; parabolic fractal representations of discovery; and production plots using a linearised ‘Hubbert’ curve approach. The data used need to be based on proved-plus-probable (‘2P’) estimates of remaining reserves, not on ‘proved’ (‘1P’) reserves; and checked against geologically-based evaluations of the oil and gas remaining to be discovered.

– Subtract past production from this ‘total production to 2100’, and then estimate the percentages of this that will come from already-discovered fields (‘2P reserves’), and the yet-to-find.

– Assess for each region the future production rate, taking into account ‘mid-point’ peak; and realistic post-peak production decline rates.

– Add in data on expected production on NGLs and non-conventional oils in those regions where these liquids will be important to give global forecasts.

– In addition, the modelling allows the different ratios of energy return on energy invested (‘EROI’) of the different categories of hydrocarbons to be accounted for, to yield forecasts of the net-energy that will be available to society.

Based on the above modelling the paper finds that the First Half of the Oil Age is about over, and the Second Half will see declining global oil and gas production due to resource depletion. The paper concludes that this need not be a ‘doomsday’ message, provided society acts in positive and constructive ways to these constraints imposed by Nature.

Campbell, C. J. (2015) Modelling Oil and Gas Depletion. The Oil Age 1 (1) 9-34.

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