Monday, August 20, 2012
The EIA produces a breakdown of their version of the global liquid fuel numbers into components - it's very useful to understand how the different parts contribute to the whole. This chart shows the four streams since 1995 and through April 2012:
Here crude and condensate (liquid hydrocarbons coming out of the ground) are on the right scale. The others are all on the left scale: NGPL (ethane-to-butane from natural gas), other liquids (mainly biofuels), and refinery gains (volume gains when heavier oils are cracked to lighter species).
For a long time, even though the overall liquid fuels have been growing slowly in the post 2005 era, the crude and condensate line was not - indicating traditional oil was on a level - if bumpy - plateau. However, the bump up in supply in the early part of 2012 has changed this: now the C&C line has an upward tilt:
The trend is only 130kbd/year - less than 0.2%/yr - but it is an upward slope. Thus it seems we have likely not yet reached peak oil for any reasonable definition of "oil". However, oil supply since 2005 has been growing far slower than it traditionally did, which is why oil prices remain much higher than they were in the 1980s and 1990s. In particular, peak oil consumption in the western world has likely been and gone.