Fredrik Robelius, a member of the Uppsala Hydrocarbon Depletion Study Group, UHDSG, Uppsala University in Sweden, defended on March 30 his thesis Giant Oil Fields Highway to Oil. The university had appointed Dr. Robert Hirsch to be the official opponent in the oral defense of the thesis. Fredrik Robelius presented in the thesis a forecast model for global oil production based heavily on a field-by-field analysis focusing on giant oil fields. A giant field will ultimately produce more than 500 million barrels (0.5 Gb) of oil. In his worst-case scenario global oil production may peak next year and in the best-case scenario ten years later, the year 2018.
Although the giant fields represent only about one percent of all oil fields in the world, they account for more than 60% of total production. The trend is heading downward when it comes to new giant field discoveries, both regarding the number of fields and the volume of the fields located.
Fredrik Robelius developed a model based on historical production, the total exploitable reserves of the giant fields, and their rate of decline. The model assumes that oil fields have a constant decline rate, which Robelius has verified by studying some giant oilfields where production has waned. His analysis shows that an annual rate of decline between 6 and 16% is reasonable.
To be sure that the future production of a field will wind up inside the interval of the model, Robelius used both pessimistic and optimistic estimates. The best-case scenario requires peace in Iraq and that seven giant oil field in the country will be re-developed. The thesis also includes a field-by-field analysis of the deep water production, major oil field developments on the horizon, and future production from the Orinoco belt in Venezuela. Then he combined the results with forecasts from oil sands in Canada that UHDSG has presented in Energy Policy.
In the final remarks, Dr. Hirsch concluded that the peak oil debate now reached a new level. The fact that the forecast openly can be studied in detail and that limits are given now up to CERA and other to explain in details why they end up in other forecasts. If not, the forecast from Uppsala Hydrocarbon Depletion Study Group is the on that the world should use for future planning.
Bengt Söderberg, Fredrik Robelius, Kjell Aleklett: A crash program scenario for the Canadian oil sands industry, Energy Policy, Volume 35, Issue 3, March 2007, Pages 1931-1947
Uppsala Hydrocarbon Depletion Study Group, UHDSG