TheOilDrum.com shelburn comment re peak oil and ASPO

Posted: June 3rd, 2010 by: h2

This is such a perfect little summation. Background: shelburn operates ROV vehicles, or works in that part of the oil drilling industry. With the Deepwater Horizon blowout, he started posting a lot more, along with ROCKMAN at theOilDrum.com

There’s some really major statements made here in a comment he made today, and I think you should really give them some thought.

I’ve added in links to the relevant sites he mentions here, and included some explanations to make it easier to understand if you are new to these concepts and groups.

shelburn on June 3, 2010 – 6:38pm Permalink | Subthread | Comments top

I have lurked around this site (theOilDrum.com) for about 4 years and finally signed up after I went to the APSO (sic, he means ASPO) (Assocation for the Study of Peak Oil) meeting last fall. Never really posted until this past month.

I have now advanced to the point of actually donating, something I never do in real life.

But this site is a beacon of reason and responsible discourse on energy matters that are either ignored, manipulated or totally misconstrued by the media and politicians and poorly understood by the general public.

Hopefully in some small way we can help spread the word about the end of cheap oil and prepare people for the coming transition.

My heartfelt thanks to Gail, Heading Out, Nate, Leanne, Prof Goose and all those listed on the right hand column, not to mention the posters who have provided me with a free education for the past few years.

I would encourage those who are just discovering TOD to help support this effort which is dependent on volunteers and your donations

The guys in the oil fields know peak oil is here now, the only ones who are still in denial are the American people as a group and a lot of politicians who cannot figure out a way to tell them this information without immediately ending their political careers.

shelburn joins an expanding line of petroleum industry insiders, geologists, and engineers, who understand that declining prodution rates are not some future event, they are here now, and are happening all over the world, and the race to maintain our present oil production levels globally is just not doing very well.

If you need a reminder, here’s one:

Less than four months ago, the United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) issued a dramatic warning in its 2010 Joint Operating Environment[1] report about an event that is likely to change the world we live in:

By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day.[2]


For those who fail to perceive the importance of the message, a shortfall of 10 MBD would be similar to a total shutting of Saudi-Arabia’s oil production. Just imagine what would happen tomorrow if a coup was to take place in the Saudi kingdom. The decline forecasted by the USJFCOM could exceed 10% of global oil production within five years. In comparison, the first oil shock of 1973 was caused by a decline of 9% and the 1979 shock by a mere drop of 4%[3] Рboth events were limited in time.

Now the key question: which study was used by the US Army to sustain such bleak conclusions?

My Freedom of Information request to the USJFCOM confirmed earlier suspicions[4] that the Army relied on an underpublicized, if not covered, global study made by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistical branch of the US Department of Energy (DOE).

The existence of this EIA study was first revealed by the French journalist, Matthieu Auzanneau[5], in March 2010. As exposed by Auzanneau, on the 7th of April 2009, Glen Sweetnam, Director of the International, Economic and Greenhouse Gas Division at the EIA and one of the key authors of the Annual Energy Outlook, made a presentation in Washington DC on the future of oil production
Imminent Oil Shortages Ahead

To make this clear, there is no scenario where we drill more oil, it doesn’t matter if we go deeper and deeper into riskier and riskier territories, the fact is that existing depletion rates in currently producing fields are hitting about 5-7% per year. And the deep water decline rates are even higher. A recent BP well, Thunderhorse, is only producing a fraction of what it was expected to produce at full capacity, after peaking at around 65% I believe.

The decline is 2-3% per month and even adding one well per month from October 2009 to January 2009, the decline has continued resulting in the complex producing only around 180,000 bbl/day. The well added in January was MC775, which is not on the main field but against the salt on the northwest side of the basin. If adding new wells isn’t stopping the decline, then the underlying decline is quite steep.

or here:

Yet another serious problem for the prospects of future oil production is starting to emerge. The deepwater wells, on which we are basing much of our energy future, may not be as productive as previously thought. Until recently the poster child for deepwater oil production was BP’s Thunderhorse platform that, after years of delay, started producing in 2008 and was supposed to produce a billion barrels of oil at the rate of 250,000 barrels a day (b/d). At first all seemingly went well with production reaching 172,000 b/d in January of 2009, but then production started falling rapidly to a low of 61,000 b/d last December. BP refuses to comment publicly on what is happening at Thunderhorse, but outside observers are growing increasingly skeptical that the platform will ever produce the planned billion barrels. At least 25 other deepwater projects are said to be facing problems of falling production, raising the question of just how much oil these very expensive deepwater projects will ever produce.
Tom Whipple, Falls Church News-Press, May 19 2010

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