By Matthieu Auzanneau
19 April 2013
(The Oil Drum) – The combined crude oil production of the five main international oil companies (Exxon, BP, Shell, Chevron and Total) hit an historic high in 2004. Since then, it has fallen by 25.8%, despite large increases in investments.
Total crude oil produced by the majors was 10.760 million barrels per day (MB/D) in 2004. In 2012, it reached only 7.981 MB/D. It has decreased by 2.779 MB/D in 8 years (-1/4), as I have been able to calculate from figures that appear in the twelve latest annual reports of those five companies.
Is this a clear early indication of an imminent decline in the worldwide production of black gold, a phenomenon predicted since 1998 by former oil company scientific executives, from the French Total group in particular?
The majors are all facing a decline in their crude oil production, which began in each case before 2007. This comes despite extremely large growth in their investments, allowed by the significant increase in crude oil prices experienced since the late 2000s. Total, for example, has seen its production fall by almost 20% since 2007, although the French giant now has at least 40% more extraction wells.
Since 2004, the total oil production by the majors has only increased once, between 2008 and 2009, and by just 0.13 MB/D, despite the unprecedented level of sales and purchases of oil assets experienced in recent years. So-called production sharing contracts, which allocate a larger share of production to the host country when the price per barrel rises, do not appear to explain the lowering of production by the majors, far from it. The production share of the five majors in worldwide production dropped from 13.39% in 2004 to 9.98% in 2011. It diminished further in 2012.
Worldwide crude oil production rose by 4% between 2004 and 2011. It has hardly increased at all since 2006, however: since then it has been on an undulating plateau, within a small margin of less than 1.25%. [more]