Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cantarell Update & Production Projection

On February 7, 2008 the respected oil and gas industry trade magazine Oil and Gas Journal published an update on the production from Mexico's largest oil fields. Ironically, this comes two years and a day from the original Wall Street Journal article (2/6/06) heralding the pending decline of the world's second largest oil field - Cantarell, located in Mexico.

The data for the Oil and Gas Journal article was reportedly sourced from El Financero newspaper. Although the discussion in the article hops back and forth between big Mexican oil fields, the bottom-line is that the article contains many useful "numbers", including some new information on the expected decline characteristics of Cantarell.

Quoting the article, "According to Sener, the 2007 - 16 Crude Oil Market Outlook prepared by the Energy Information System of the Energy Secretariat, in any scenario - high or low - Cantarell's production will average 917,000 - 921,000 b/d during 2006-16, with an average annual decline of 14.1 %."

This is the first I've seen of a quoted, long-term decline rate estimate for Cantarell, and given the initial production rate, one can use that decline rate to derive a production projection. I was encouraged to do so given the quoted "average rate" for an 11 year period (an average rate being non-sensical in this case, and thus a tip off for further study needed). Also, just yesterday I gave one of my sons the classic book, "How to Lie with Statistics" (for defensive purposes only, I might add), so the dangers in "averages" were fresh on my mind.

So, given the quoted 14.1% annual decline rate and using an initial production rate of 1.9 million barrels per day going into 2006, the following production projection was derived:

Cantarell Field - Mexico

Initial Rate (BO/D, beginning of 2006): 1900000 Note 1
Decline Rate:
14.1% Note 2
Avg Production Rate, 2006 - 2016: 923,026 Note 2

Oil Flowrate Oil Flowrate Oil Production
YEAR (beginning of year) (end of year) (annual)

(BO/D) (BO/D) (BO)

2006 1,900,000 1,632,100 643,440,753
2007 1,632,100 1,401,974 552,715,607
2008 1,401,974 1,204,296 474,782,706
2009 1,204,296 1,034,490 407,838,345
2010 1,034,490 888,627 350,333,138
2011 888,627 763,330 300,936,166
2012 763,330 655,701 258,504,166
2013 655,701 563,247 222,055,079
2014 563,247 483,829 190,745,313
2015 483,829 415,609 163,850,224
2016 415,609 357,008 140,747,342

Note 1: Cantarell said to be producing "about 2 MMBO/D" at EOY
2005; later production said to have declined by 100,000 BO/D
in 2005. Cantarell had been limited for years at rate of
2 MMBO/D (by the production facilities) so a 1.9 MMBO/D
initial rate going into 2006 appears to make sense, and when the
quoted decline rate is applied, the stated "average" is obtained.
Note 2: Decline rate (14.1 %) and avg. of "917 - 921,000 BO/D from
2006 - 2016" obtained from OGJ 2/7/08 article, in turn
quoting Sener & El Financero newspaper.

A couple of observations:

  1. The production projection appears valid as it tends to agree (within reason) with the quoted "average" production rate from 2006 - 2016 of 917,000 - 921,000, namely the cumulative production over that time, divided by eleven years and by 365 days per year - yields 923,026 BO/D. As previously mentioned, an "average" is a fairly useless statistic in this case, except for validation purposes.
  2. Note that by the end of 2009, the production rate is down to HALF of what it was in the beginning of 2005! This is not abnormal; it is simply the effect of continuous production decline, which is common in all oil fields, eventually.
  3. Apparently Cantarell's production will only be about 350,000 barrels per day by the end of 2016, thus it will have dropped 1,650,000 barrels per day from 2005 (an overall 82.5 % decline). This is the kind of decline that has some of us concerned about Peak Oil, and how quickly we need to initiate conservation efforts and develop alternatives, while we continue to wisely and rapidly develop fossil hydrocarbon and nuclear resources.