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July 11th, 2011

After I grumbled in my previous posting about the difficulty of locating the EIA oil-only data, a consultant in Toronto, Ovi Colavincenzo, sent me the correct URL . It's:
Production_of_Crude _Oil _including_Lease_Condensate_(Thousand_Barrels_Per_day).xls
which leads to an Excel spreadsheet containing monthly oil production numbers for every country in the world from January 2007 through March 2011.

  • The annual sums for 2007 to 2009 are quite close to the earlier EIA totals.
  • The inclusion of "lease condensate" is consistent with the earlier EIA version (see Note below)
  • The "other" category is replaced by an explicit row entry for every country in the world.
  • From February to August 2007, production from Saudi Arabia is locked at an even 8.6 million barrels per day. Iran was similarly constant at 3.9 million barrels per day.

NOTE: "Lease condensate" refers to hydrocarbons with roughly 3 to 5 carbon atoms in each molecule. The name comes from the tendency of these light hydrocarbons to condense as a liquid in natural gas pipelines. Also known as "natural gas liquids" or "white gold." My father worked for an oil company but he was also a reserve Army officer. In 1931, his reserve assignment was to substitute for the commanding officer of a border-patrol company for two weeks. He was due a mileage allowance for driving round-trip from Oklahoma City to El Paso. My father rigged a 55-gallon barrel of lease condensate in the back seat of his Model A Ford and used it as gasoline. No cost for gasoline; he used his mileage allowance to pay the doctor bill when I was born. During the World War II gasoline rationing, he similarly used condensate out of a natural gas line for gasoline.

If we take the new EIA spreadsheet at face value, the year 2010 outproduces 2005. "The King is dead. Long live the King." It doesn't alter the big picture. Oil production is not growing significantly. With oil prices up, it is going to be very difficult to pull out of the recession.

Of course there is curiosity. Who pushed the year 2010 into the winner' circle? The EIA data are in an Excel spreadsheet. I'll confess that I am not a speadsheet freak. When the first spreadsheet, VisiCalc, was introduced in 1979, I had already been writing computer programs for 25 years. To compensate for my spreadsheet blindness, I copied the EIA data into a comma-separated format and went after it with BASIC.

After some fiddling around with graphics, it became clear what I wanted to know. It didn't need graphics at all. For each country, I wanted to compute their 2010 production minus their average for 2007 through 2009. I was not interested in their percentage increase; I wanted the increased barrels that could go into the refinery. Here are the winners:

United States 524,204 barrels per day, year 2010 minus the average for 2007-2009
Russia 502,941
China 388,499
Saudi Arabia 325,667
Nigeria 278,719
Brazil 258,083
Qatar 231,257
Columbia 201,375

Wow! The US led the way! For the men and women who work in the US oil industry: Yea! Hooray! Clap, clap, clap. We raise our hard hats to you. I would have expected Saudi Arabia to have been the big kid on the block.

Here are the biggest losers:

Norway -230,649 barrels per day, 2010 minus the average for 2007-2009
Mexico -173,739
Venezuela -169,612
UK offshore -124,692
Kuwait -101,170

All of the large losers are major oil producers. Specifically, the North Sea (Norway plus the UK offshore) was developed over a relatively brief time and almost all the North Sea fields are past their production peaks. This is not evidence of incompetence on the part of the Norwegians. (You can decide about the Brits.)

So it's a new toy from the Energy Information Agency. We still don't know where the actual numbers come from. Does the EIA politely ask each country and then posts whatever reply is received? This story is by no means complete. Stay tuned.

And thank you again, Ovi.

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