The six categories of liquid and solid hydrocarbons in Figure 1 are lumped together into three different combinations in the reports of global liquid fuel production maintained by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
- Natural gas plant liquids (NGPLs). NGPLs are those hydrocarbons in natural gas that are separated as liquids at natural gas processing plants, fractionating and cycling plants, and in some instances, field facilities. Lease condensate is excluded. Products obtained include liquefied petroleum gases (ethane, propane, and butanes), pentanes plus, and isopentane.
- Lease condensate and crude oil. Lease condensate is a mixture consisting primarily of hydrocarbons heavier than pentanes that is recovered as a liquid from natural gas in lease separation facilities. Lease condensate is lumped together with several types of crude oil that are also classified as Easy Oils, Transitional Oils, and Unconventional Oils. Starting from the second column on the left, these crude oils are the light conventional crude oils, heavy oils, ultra-deep water oils, Arctic oils, tight mudstone ("shale'') oils, ultra-heavy oils, as well as tar sand bitumens and kerogen from oil shales. The ultra-heavy oils are recovered in situ by heat injection, mostly as steam. The bitumens and kerogen must be liquified either at upgraders/refineries or in situ. All of these liquids together make the "Crude oil + lease condensate" curves in Figures 2 and 3.
- Other liquids. These liquids lump gas-to-liquids (GTLs), coal-to-liquids (CTLs), ethanol from corn and sugarcane, biodiesel from palm oil and soybeans, and any other liquids that might be used as fuel, i.e., methanol, butanol, etc.
|Figure 4: The BP oil production data were downloaded from BP's statistics website, as millions of metric tons of oil equivalent (toe, accessed on 11/21/2012). This mass rate of global production was converted into HHV by multiplying it by 41.868 x 10^9 GJ/toe x 1.07 to convert from the standard lower heating value of 1 toe to its HHV, because only HHV can be used to compare fuels with different hydrogen contents. The EIA curve represents lease condensate plus crude oil plus NGPLs, all converted from volumes to HHV using the procedure described in the caption of Figure 3. Notice excellent agreement between these two curves. The IEA data could be purchased for a lot of money, but were not.|
|Figure 5: I set up this model of global oil production probably in 1995, or so, and never changed its parameters. I have only updated the blue data curve, which is a superposition of the old historic data from a variety of sources and the EIA data. By a lucky coincidence, or the Central Limit Theorem, or both, the world production of crude oil and lease condensate has been quite predictable for the last 17 years or so. I want to point out that there will be future small Hubbert curves for the new Iraqi oil, GOM oil, the Arctic oil, etc., but the fundamentals will not change, just as they are unchanged for the Norwegian sector of the North Sea shown in my earlier post. At the time scale of this chart, the global oil production plateau surely looks like a peak.|
Interestingly, to meet global oil demand between 2010 and 2035, IEA reported in 2011 that $10 trillion would be needed, with the upstream sector accounting for 85% of this amount. IHS CERA reported in 2012, that the upstream costs more than doubled in 2011, relative to the year 2000. This trend is expected to continue because higher demand for raw materials, equipment, and specialized labor will create shortages. Most importantly, the global oil and gas industry is moving away from the easy oil to the transitional and unconventional oils, and this means a continuous increase of cost and complexity of the future upstream operations. In human language, we will have to run ever faster to stand still. This is yet another definition of peak capacity to maintain oil production at the current level. In their 2012 Energy Outlook, IEA predicts that in the year 2035, global petroleum production will be 4,000 Mtoe (mega tons of oil equivalent) vs. 3,600 Mtoe produced in 2010. The global peak oil plateau, anyone?