Four of the main international oil companies again recorded significant declines in their crude production in 2012, according to quarterly reports presented in recent days. These declines seem all the more significant because they occurred despite record investments by Exxon, Chevron, BP and Shell. (We await with curiosity the publication next week of the results of the French group Total.)
The results of 2012 should give clear indications on the validity of the threat of peak oil.
Things are going badly for Big Oil.
The oil production of the American giant Exxon continued its decline in 2012, falling by no less than 5.5% compared to the previous year, from 2.31 to 2.18 million barrels per day (Mb/d), we can read in the latest quarterly report.
The decline spares no continent.
Exxon specifies that the decline in its oil production is limited to -1.6%, if we take into account changes in the scope of activity, divestments and the effects induced by OPEC quotas. The company does not present the impact of each of these three factors separately; it hardly seems relevant to rule out asset sales and divestments, as these usually concern declining oil wells.
The eldest daughter of Standard Oil also saw its total natural gas production decline (-6.4%), including in the United States (-2.4%), despite the shale gas “boom”. Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson admitted in June that with shale gas, his company was ” lose (her) shirt “.
Chevronthe other major oil firm in the United States, reported a 4.6% decline in its crude extractions, from 1.85 Mb/d in 2011 to 1.76 Mb/d in 2012.
BP suffered an 8.2% drop, amplified by the massive divestments agreed to settle the bill for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The crude oil production major London increased from 1.29 Mb/d in 2011 to 1.18 Mb/d in 2012.
BP CEO Bob Dudley said in January that the peak oil hypothesis “is less and less founded”.
Shell recorded a 2% decline in its black gold production, from 1.66 to 1.63 Mb/d.
Capital and exploration expenditures from Exxon increased by 8.2%, reaching $39.8 billion in 2012. Those of Chevron grew 17.5% to $34.2 billion in 2012. Capital expenditures of Shell reached 32.5 billion in 2012 (+ 23.5%). BP : 23 billion dollars in 2012 (+ 29.3% compared to 2011).
These negative results for 2012 confirm the trend of decline in crude oil production majors histories that began at the end of the 2000s ― a trend brought to light on this blog.
THE Financial Times is currently the only economic media to express some concern about this development.
The group’s first assessment of the year 2012 Total is expected on February 13. After reaching a peak in 2004, the French firm’s crude extractions declined continuously between 2007 and 2011.
The decline in crude oil production majors historic is in line with the predictions recorded in the latest annual report of the International Energy Agency, which discreetly anticipates the decline of many old and leading oil countries.
The rawIraq and D’Saudi Arabia, as well as shale oils from the United States are frequently presented as being capable of reversing the trend. Here again, several initial indications concerning last year’s results appear negative. We will come back to this in a very future post (as already promised, hastily, but current events take precedence).
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