Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Depletion Shell Game

Of course, the title doesn't pun at Shell's lone expense; the real problem is that over time, individual companies will experience peak oil as well, and according to this Salon article, researchers at energy analyst John S. Herold, Inc. have determined individual peaks for the major oil companies:
Herold believes that the French oil company, Total S.A., will reach its peak production in 2007. Herold expects 2008 to be critical, with Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips Co., BP, Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and the Italian producer, Eni S.p.A., all hitting their peaks. In 2009, Herold expects ChevronTexaco Corp. to peak. In Herold's view, each of the world's seven largest publicly traded oil companies will begin seeing production declines within the next 48 months or so.
Naturally, the oil companies themselves are rather tightlipped about this, with David J. O'Reilly, Chevron/Texaco CEO and chairman, issuing a "no comment", and similar statements coming from Royal Dutch/Shell spokesmen. Unlike the Hubbert modelers at ASPO, Herold gets its data from a purely public data source: the SEC.
Herold's owner and CEO, Art Smith, is a believer in Hubbert's work. Smith and his fellow analysts at Herold have been building their peak production databases since 1996. About 10 months ago, Herold began publishing what it calls "strategic evaluations" of specific companies, which include graphics showing when that company will reach its peak production. Herold does not do geologic analysis. Instead, its analysts mine the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It also looks at the oil properties that the company has acquired or sold, along with new projects being drilled, and older oil fields in the company's portfolio. "We look at this data, put it into a financial model, and start asking questions," says Herold analyst Gordon.
The article also looks back to an earlier Salon article about neocons becoming more energy-aware, and notes W "keeps his head up his tailpipe". True.

Thanks to Flying Talking Donkey for the link.