Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cantarell Update, September 2009: The Peak Oil PosterChild Continues To Plummet

As we last reported, in May 2009, Cantarell Field's April 2009 production averaged 713,000 barrels per day, down from 862,060 barrels per day in late 2008.

Now, according to a September 9, 2009 article in the Wall Street Journal, Cantarell is down to 500,000 barrels per day. (presumably for August 2009, and not yet plotted on the above graph). This represents a 30 % drop over only 4 months, which far exceeds the last calculated decline rate of 35 % PER YEAR.

A subsequent article in the Oil and Gas Journal, dated September 14, 2009, quoted PEMEX's recent prediction that total production will average 2.5 MMBO/D in 2010 (Mexico's total oil production averaged 3.4 MMBO/D in 2004). The article notes that this rate is down 4 % from the first half of 2009, and down 5.7 % from previous estimates. According to PEMEX, actual production was 2.561 MMBO/D in July 2009, so it is difficult for us to imagine that production could average 2.5 MMBO/D in 2010, given the precipitous decline of Cantarell and small increases seen in the KMZ and Chicontepec fields.

The OGJ article went on to state that exports were 1.2 MMBO/D in the first half of 2009, down 14.8 % from that period in 2008.

Background: Cantarell Field was producing 2,100,000 barrels per day in late 2004. Cantarell, at that time, supplied around 2.5 % of the world's liquid hydrocarbons (not just crude, but also condensate and natural gas liquids). So, here is a substantial portion of the world's oil production that is declining at a rate MUCH greater than 5 % per year ...

Oil exports supply 40 % of the Mexican government's annual budget. (This figure was reported in the recent WSJ article, but it has been quoted since 2007, or thereabouts.)

A few important questions:
  • What will replace oil exports in Mexico's revenue budget - in a couple of years or less - when they have no oil to export?
  • Mexico will need to import oil shortly after the exports stop - where will they get the oil, and what will they use to pay for it?
  • Where will the US obtain the 1.3 MMBO/D that Mexico has supplied, in recent years?
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