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IEA World Energy Outlook 2012,
and its growth scenario for the USA till 2020
[IEA 2010 World Energy Outlook]
[IEA 2011 World Energy Outlook]
[IEA 2012 World Energy Outlook]
[15 years IEA WEO - from 1998 to 2012]
[IEA 2013 World Energy Outlook]
[Energy Page List]
[Some oil depletion graphs of different countries]

The IEA predicts that by 2020 the USA could produce more oil than Saudi Arabia.

Further down, Chris Nelder explains why U.S. oil production will not outpace Saudi Arabia's in 2020 despite the IEA.

In essence, the IEA is overly optimistic because
  1. Energy carriers of different net energy content are counted together;
  2. The unconventional energy carriers, such as shale gas and bituminous oils, are not equally suitable for conventional uses;
  3. Energy efficiency (and resource efficiency) increases are limited in scope and cannot offset the general development of ever increasing energy and resource demands on a finite planet.
  4. So-called "renewable energies" cannot replace fossil fuels because they are mainly electricy, which cannot replace oil and natural gas.
  5. Hydraulic power generation cannot be increased without further degrading the environment, disbalancing nature and
One can compare the oil with the fruit in an orchard. After the high quality and low hanging fruit has been harvested, the fallen and rotten apples don't have the same value and cannot be used for the same purposes. The rising demand for high quality apple pies cannot be met by low quality fruit.

The easy oil are the low hanging fruit. It's autumn. You want a juicy apple? Just walk in, stretch your arm and pick one. Those were the days of oil gushers. Hardly any extra effort required. One barrel of oil invested in drilling equipment returned 90 barrels of oil. You want an apple pie industry? Simply get workers to harvest the orchards round the world. There's enough to diversify into apple strudle, apple jam, apple sirup and much more. Use the easy oil for a booming automobile industry, tourism, and a multitude of modernity's facilities and gadgets. More! Faster! To the end of the world and the moon we're traveling. There are no limits in sight.

Unfortunately the easy oil did not last forever. As the low hanging apples were all taken, ladders were needed to get to the higher fruit. The oil stocks required more technology to produce the remaining oil. The newly discovered orchards had high tree with fruit at the top branches only. The ladders got longer and longer and picking became very risky. Some drilling equipment failed and the environment was severely harmed. One barrel of oil invested now only produced some 15 barrels of net energy. The apple pie industry had to raise prices. Oil and gasoline became increasingly expensive.

The success of the apple pie industry lead to higher fruit prices and this made it profitable to harvest the fallen fruit from the grass. Even the trodden-upon and the bad apples were recycled. This took a lot of effort and the workers suffered from the bad smells. But the industry profited. Oil and natural gas were now extracted - from tar sands by heavy machinery, and from rock formations by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), both requiring high amounts of fossil fuels, water, and chemicals.
The energy invested for these operations is estimated being around 1 barrel to produce 5 barrels of net energy. This probably is the return on investment that society needs to maintain existing structures, leaving nothing for further industrial and population expansion, commonly called "growth". This will unavoidably halt growth and - with continuing population growth - result in lower per capita availability of goods and services.

However, the fallen and the bad apples were not suitable for the production of quality apple pies. So gradually an apple pie shortage was looming, since alternative fruit could not be eaten. So-called "renewable energies" are predominently electricity. Its production equipment - hydro dams, solar panels, and wind mills - all depend on conventional oil and technologies to be made.

The easy oil The oil orchards cannot simply be planted, the oil trees pruned and the fruit harvested at ground level. [to be finished 3DEC2012]
[article on the prospects of Bakken Shale Oil in the USA...Article on the prospects of Bakken Shale Oil in the USA ]

The U.S. Will Not Actually Produce More Oil Than Saudi Arabia in 2020

By Chris Nelder Posted Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, at 3:49 PM ET

Natural gas is burned off next to water reservoirs used for fracking at an oil well site near Tioga, N.D.

Photo by KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

On Nov. 12, the International Energy Agency’s annual World Energy Outlook report caused quite a stir by asserting that by 2020, the United States would overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil producer. Mainstream journalists eagerly repeated this claim.

But the truth is that it relied on a very loose definition of "oil." Saying that the United States will surpass Saudi Arabia in oil production is a bit like saying that a 12-ounce latte contains more caffeine than 12 ounces of espresso. It might make for an exciting headline and be useful as political fodder, but it's simply not true.

In 2011, U.S. production of actual crude oil plus condensates (natural gas liquids produced along with the crude) was 5.644 million barrels per day (mb/d). In addition to this, IEA counts 2.2 mb/d of natural gas plant liquids—liquids that are separated from "dry" methane gas at natural gas processing plants—as oil. In 2011, the U.S. produced a total of 7.8 mb/d under this definition.

By 2020, IEA forecasts an additional 2.2 mb/d in "tight oil" production from fracking shale formations like the Bakken in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in Texas, plus another 1 mb/d of natural gas liquids, for a total of 11.1 mb/d.

By comparing this total to their forecast of 10.6 mb/d for Saudi Arabia, they could say that the United States would surpass the former in oil production by 2020.

However, the comparison isn't really accurate.

Natural gas liquids, or NGLs, have a variety of uses, but only isobutene, pentane, and "pentanes plus" (also known as "natural gasoline") are typically used in the making of gasoline. That makes just 30 percent of a barrel of NGLs usef ul for this purpose. Further, NGLs have only about two-thirds of the energy content ("heating value") of crude oil. Considering only the NGLs that are usable in gasoline production, and discounting for their energy content, only about 19 percent of a barrel of NGLs should really be counted as vehicular fuel. Basically, then, of the current 2.2 mb/d of U.S. NGL production, only about 0.4 mb/d is actually useful as vehicular fuel.

The meaning of "oil" can be stretched even further. Most journalists cite the "Total Oil Supply" figure published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which was 10.128 mb/d for the United States in 2011. That number includes 1.191 mb/d of "other liquids" (mainly corn ethanol, which also has about two-thirds the energy content of crude) and 1.076 mb/d of "refinery processing gains." The latter mainly reflects the fact that when crude is refined into lighter products like gasoline, it expands in volume; it doesn't actually amount to additional energy.

By contrast, EIA's Total Oil Supply for Saudi Arabia in 2011 was 11.153 mb/d, of which 9.456 mb/d was crude and condensates.

From this we can calculate that only 56 percent of the U.S. total "oil" supply in 2011 was actually crude and condensates—the good stuff. Whereas Saudi Arabia's supply was 85 percent crude and condensates.

To be sure, U.S. tight-oil production from fracking has been a remarkable phenomenon. It has added more than 1 mb/d to domestic oil output, and it is still increasing. However, even after adding the IEA's anticipated 2.2 mb/d increase in U.S. tight oil by 2020, the U.S. crude plus condensate total would still be only 8.425 mb/d—less than Saudi Arabia's current production. The IEA forecasts that Saudi Arabia's production will be roughly the same in 2025 as it is today, so the United States will not overtake it in actual oil production by 2020 … or ever.

Source: www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/11/30/[...]

Is shale oil production from Bakken headed for a run with “The Red Queen”?

MAJOR FINDINGS FROM THE STUDY All charts in this post are clickable for a larger version.

Findings from this in-depth study of time series for production from some individual wells:
  • Presently the estimated breakeven price for the “average” well in the Bakken formation in North Dakota is $80 - $90/Bbl In plain language this means that presently the commercial profitability for new wells is barely positive.
  • The “average” well now yields around 85 000 Bbls during the first 12 months of production and then experiences a year over year decline of 40% (+/-) 2%
  • The recent trend for newer “average” wells is one of a perceptible decline in well productivity (lower yields)
  • As from 2007 and also as of recently the total production of shale oil from Bakken has shown exceptional growth and the (relatively high) specific average productivity (expressed as Bbls/day/well) has been sustained by starting up flow from an accelerating number of new wells
  • Now and based upon present observed trends for principally well productivity and crude oil futures (WTI), it is challenging to find support for the idea that total production of shale oil from the Bakken formation will move much above present levels of 0.6 - 0.7 Mb/d on an annual basis.
Authoritative research companies (like Bernstein Research) and widely acknowledged specialists/institutions like USGS and SPE have recently and in general arrived at identical conclusions by applying different sets of methodologies and from studying other areas.I am of course in no position to rule out that the required breakeven price in the future could be lowered driven by technological innovations and improvements in well design and operations. However recently there have been a flow of reports that casts a reasonable doubt that this will become a given.
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