More on the declining production of the oil fields in Saudi Arabia

I do wish folk would do their homework before they pontificate. From Land of Black Gold I came to the pronouncements of Tim Evans whose money quotes are:

"There is no worrisome lack of supply. With 1.8 million barrels a day of excess production capacity, Saudi Arabia can quickly pump enough oil to offset any disruptions, short of the most catastrophic scenarios."

"Oil prices have been rising for the last 18 months on hypothetical supply disruptions," Evans said. "Every time we come up with a new 'what if?', the oil price manages to go $5 higher."

"Higher prices will eventually cause gasoline demand, which is now about 2 percent higher than a year ago, to taper off. And higher prices will lead producers, including Saudi Arabia, to pump more oil."

In regard to the comments on Saudi production, the Saudi's largest fields are:

Ghawar field (the King)Started producing in 1951. Peak production was 6.6 mbd. Current production about 4.5 mbd - water inflow percentages are increasing, output decreasing.
Abqaiq (The Queen) peak production was in 1973 at 1 mbd, now below 400,000 bd.
Saffaniyah (2nd Queen) Started producing in 1957, peak production was 1 mbd, now down to about 770,000bd.
Berri (Great Lord) Peak production was 788,000 bd in 1977 and it now down to around 300,000 bd.

Because of the decline of these major fields about 800,000 bd of Saudi increased production merely offsets the annual drops in production from these fields. Taken with the anticipated increases, and the unavailability of Manifa, as commented on below, Saudi production will not go up nearly enough this year to match demand. Because, taking my shoes off to count, the projected increases minus the unavailable, and ongoing declines, no longer add up to even 1 mbd of an overall increase.

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What is the bottleneck in Saudi production?

They haven't passed 10 million barrels per day since 1980. Do they have the port facilities and pipelines to get past that number? Optimistic long term energy projections from the Energy Information Agency seem to depend on Saudi production of 18 to 20 million barrels per day in the near future. Is there any evidence that they are capable of that without a huge increase in infrastructure? Are there enough oil tankers in the world to load an average of 100 million barrels per day? Are we building more?

Last year I remember the Saudi's tried to sell some high sulfur oil from a smaller field to increase their output but couldn't find a buyer. Is the bottleneck our refineries or our environmental standards?

This is a super site, and I've mentioned it on my own blog about Canadian politics. One suggestion: please keep the text in a narrower column throughout the page, not just where you have a column of links or charts on the right.

Text running clear across the page is really hard to read, which is why newspapers keep their stories in narrow columns. (For more, see my blog "Writing for the Web" at

Otherwise, this is a great resource (and renewable!). Keep at it!

Isn't Ghawar made up of several different fields and that they are migrating production in a north to south direction?

Is it true to say the different zones of Ghawar have different production histories and profiles?

Dear Mr Thin Column,

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