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Future of Natural Gas Supply
Jean Laherrere
Member of ASPO, the Association for the study of peak oil and gas.
Contribution to the 3rd International Workshop on Oil&Gas Depletion
Berlin, Germany, 24,25 May, 2004

(Down lode paper in pdf, 3,6 Mb )

Comments by Kjell Aleklett

This paper by Jean Laherrere contains an enormous amount of data and forecasts of future productions and discoveries of natural gas. You can find data for the world, regions and individual countries and I think that it is hard to find something similar anywhere else in the world. It contains 112 figures, tables and other data that will be of imminent important to understand the future production of natural gas in the world, Europe, North America, North Africa and the Middle East.

I like to highlight some of the findings that nations and industries should consider for future planning of use of natural gas. For existing data Jean Laherrere make the following remarks: - “Data is unreliable for production, but it is worse for reserves. As for oil, the remaining gas reserves published by political sources [enquiries to governments done by Oil & Gas Journal (OGJ) and reproduced by BP, OPEC and World Oil (WO)] are drastically different from technical sources. Cedigaz is also getting data from governments. American medias report proved reserves to please the SEC, despite that many countries report proven + probable reserves, such as UK. The current proved data is designed to provide growth and most annual additions are revisions of past estimates.”

The conclusion of this is that decisions within the natural gas industry and by governments have been take on grounds that have been far from reality. The fact that fractions of the discoveries have been reported instead of the full amount gives misleading trends for the future.

Figure 11: World remaining reserves from technical and political sources

You can see in the figure that we officially get a figure that shows a growth in reserves instead of the fact that the reserves have been more or less constant from year 1980 due to the fact that the annual discovery is close to annual production.

There is a strong message in the next figure.

Figure 14: World conventional oil & gas “mean” discovery and production

The fact that the discoveries of oil peaked in the 60:s is today an accepted knowledge, but the fact that the natural gas discoveries peaked in the 70:s is for the majority a well hidden secret. Many believe the exploration for natural gas is non existing, but the industry is searching and they just finds less. We are now in a face when we are consuming more than we are finding. This is at this very moment devastating for US and it will within a future also effect Europe.

It’s much harder to model the peak of natural gas then it is to model the peak of oil. One way is to look for trends that are similar for oil and gas. In the next figure Jean Laherrere show the R/P ratios for oil and gas.

   Figure 12: R/P from technical and political sources

You can see that the ratios from technical data have a constant slope for both oil and gas. In general one can say that one expect a straight line till the time fore the peak production and in the case of oil should that be 2008. From the figure you can see that the time difference between the two lines is less than 20 years. This indicates that peak gas might be a reality within 20 years after the peak oil, or around 2030. Obvious there is big uncertainties in this number but it is time to start to think of a year for the gas peak.  With the enormous expansion that we now can see in Europe it might be earlier.   

Data for the world is based on regional data And the regions of special interest is North America and Europe. In the next figure Jean Laherrere present production and discovery data for US, Canada and Mexico as these countries are linked together with pipelines. The discovery rate is shifted 23 years and by doing so one can see that there is a sharp connection between production and discovery. In principle it’s very easy to understand as it is not possible to produce something that not have been found.

The decline rate in discovery of conversional natural gas twenty years ago will within the next ten years dramatically lower the production within the region.  

The net for natural gas is expanding in Europe, but the production within Europe is declining. The next figure is a summary of the situation.

The discovery numbers are shifted 20 years. The trend for the last 40 years is that we have found less for every year and since 1990 is the discoveries far below the production. We are now very dependent on import of natural gas from Russia and in the future will the navel-string for Europe have the placenta in Russia.

Data for individual countries and much, much, more is found in the full paper.

Kjell Aleklett, aleklett@tsl.uu.se

Jean Laherrere
Member of ASPO
 <jean.laherrere@wanadoo.fr >