Help us List Megaprojects

New liquids capacity with first oil in 2003 as estimated from Petroleum Review MegaProject report in Jan 2004, and estimate from Wikipedia table as of November 25th, 2007.

Last week, both Khebab's piece and mine looked at apparent acceleration in base production decline rates. This occurs when you combine the increasing new capacity totaled by Petroleum Review's megaproject reports against plateaued production. Although we began our analyses separately, we came to roughly the same conclusion.

However, what is not clear is what this means. In particular, it's not at all clear that we can make the leap from seeing base production declines accelerate to assuming that actual petrophysical declines are acclerating. There are a number of confounding factors that potentially complicate life - changes in the amount of spare capacity in the system, restoration of Soviet production capacity that had decayed, effects from the slow ramp-up of some new capacity projects, to mention just a few.

However, a number of people suggested to us in email that an additional confounding factor is that the megaproject lists we were relying on had enough issues that one should hesitate to draw conclusions from them. Although the jury is still out on this question, there does seem to be some evidence for the idea. It would be understandable - maintaining a megaproject list is a mammoth task for any one person in their spare time.

As a result, Khebab and I decided last week to start an open megaprojects list. We're doing this in the form of a Wikipedia page, since

  • The Wikipedia already has collaborative editing facilities, allowing anyone motivated to help fix and extend the list
  • it makes the list broadly accessible, since it's of potentially general and lasting importance
  • it helps us move in the direction of improving Wikipedia coverage of peak oil (by enlarging the corpus of TODers that know how to work on Wiki pages something Ransu urged last week).
You can see our effort so far over at the Wikipedia. Be warned that the page is presently in active construction; it's incomplete, inconsistent, and changing very frequently. In particular, at the time of writing, we are ranked #88 for most actively edited Wikipedia pages at wikirage. We started from a combination of Rembrandt Koppelaar's list which he kindly shared, the Skrebowski lists in Petroleum Review, and a spreadsheet of projects I was working on in 2005. (Before I gave up on megaproject analysis in disgust at lack of a decent approach to decline rate modeling, I had trawled through a lot of oil company reports and press releases). We're also receiving sterling help from Ace, and a few other passers-by that happened to notice our efforts.

However, we could use some more help, and part of my hope in writing this post is to get some additional volunteers to get the work to go faster. If you are

  • Familiar enough with oil industry terms to be able to read press releases and annual reports,
  • Computer literate enough to figure out a simple markup language, and
  • Have enough spare time to be hanging out at the Oil Drum all the time, and would like the Truth to be Known
then you are a particularly good candidate for volunteering to help the effort. I'm hoping that because of TOD's broad geographic reach, there are folks who are in touch with projects in particular regions, or in particular companies, and can share their knowledge with us in order to make a more perfect list.

I'll give a tiny tutorial below, but first I want to post a couple of quick graphs, and some examples of issues I've found with the existing lists. So far, I've mainly been working on the years 2003 and 2004. I do not claim that the these are perfect yet, but they are much better than they were. Here's a graph that compares the preliminary 2003 Wikipedia projects to the 2004 Petroleum Review Megaproject report.

New oil liquids capacity with first oil in 2003 as estimated from Petroleum Review MegaProject report in Jan 2004, and estimate from Wikipedia table as of November 24th, 2007.

The biggest issue found so far is that the Haradh II project, which seems to be the largest project of the year, was not listed. This project was known about in the industry, and used western contractors extensively, with Snamprogetti as prime contractor on the GOSP (eg see the EIA discussion here, this doc, and the Saudi Aramco Year in Review for 2003, which lists the GOSP as completed in July, with startup in September.)

Here's the (even more preliminary) situation in 2004:

New oil liquids capacity with first oil in 2004 as estimated from Petroleum Review MegaProject report in Jan 2004, and estimate from Wikipedia table as of November 25th, 2007.

Again, the single largest issue was that the Qatif/Abu'Safah project in Saudi Arabia was not recorded for that year. Admittedly the facility was inaugurated on December 26th, 2004, so it only just sneaked under the wire into 2004, but Petroleum Review doesn't list it in 2005 either - it's a "prospective project" in the 2004 report, and then disappears.

Other issues are more understandable in a report from Jan 2004 - the Petrobras Albacora Leste and Roncador II projects turned out to be delayed out of 2004, but the Barracuda field came in ahead of schedule and managed first oil in 2004. Hindsight is 20-20.

Overall it appears that the Petroleum Review totals for these two years are probably understated by a significant margin. Thus, the absolute value of the base decline rate may have been higher than we thought. So far, the overall rising trend in capacity is intact, implying the accelerating trend in declines might be intact also. However, further work is required to confirm that reliably.

Which is where, hopefully, a few of you come in. If you see issues or errors in the graphs above, or the lists at the Wiki page, here's what you do. Above and to the right of each table in the page is a little [Edit] link:

If you click on that you get an edit window into the table content. I've scrolled down to the section on Norway's Grane field, currently underresearched:

A quick Google search finds this article, which adds the information that the crude is heavy. So let's add the new content:

Now save the page, and the new content shows up:

Hopefully, that gives you a little flavor. For more information on editing the Wikipedia's markup, see the Wikipedia Cheatsheet, and the Tutorial. I am a total beginner myself, but figured out enough to be somewhat productive in about 15 minutes, and keep learning more.

Thanks Stuart - while this particular topic is a bit over my head, I think this is one of (several) central issues that need

... the Truth to be Known

in order to understand and potentially narrow the gap between the 'peak is now' camp and the 'peak is 2020+' camp.

Other issues are geopolitics/human nature, net energy as opposed to gross, environmental constraints, etc. but understanding the megaprojects impact is an important piece of the puzzle. I hope that people that agree with a near term peak as well as those in the optimistic camp will help in this task. After all, in order to adapt and mitigate we first need the facts, and a confidence envelope. Then we can more effectively plan/ get off our collective butts.

Maybe a linkage of the series of Saudia Arabia and your other technical articles like from last week would be good to put on the site to show the connection between the megaprojects list and the real world, the big picture so to speak, when you've got all the bugs out of the list.

for last week, we are ranking 11 in terms of quality edits:

15 editors, Raw Edits: 273, Reversions: 3.

Three things I'd suggest Stuart:

1) The expected time to ramp to peak production would be useful, some will be slower than others.

2) Make sure you make regular offline copies, you have no idea when an 'editor' might take exception and delete it. They can be capricious, not to say uncontrolled.

3) A database or XML shaped version would be useful, particularly if it could be incorporated into the overall scheme of things and link dynamically.

On 1), there is a peak year field (which would allow one to at least linearly interpolated), but the data is not available for most fields.

On 2), thanks for the tip.

On 3), there are no plans to do this at present, but we are working to preserve the property that the tables cut and past cleanly into spreadsheets, etc, for analysis.

I'm working on a Perl script that will parse the page and produce a csv file.


XML for preference (over CSV). Lots of nice benefits for processing and extension.

Many fields seem to ramp to a peak level over a period of a few months to a few years, then maintain a plateau. Its possible to make guesstimates (they are inherent in most predictions, as you know) but having a considered view of that shape is extremely useful. Best would be a year by year production shape.

If I ever have a spare moment, I'll see what I can do. I've got half of it.

In terms of analysis - yes, we need to explore the various estimation methodologies one might use. In terms of the Wiki page, the content needs to be verifiable - so there must be some attribution to some source (generally ultimately the operator of the field) that stated the peak date.

"Make sure you make regular offline copies, you have no idea when an 'editor' might take exception and delete it."

The Wikipedia software keeps a record of every edit made, so it is a simple matter to revert to any previous version. All material can always be recovered.


One thing the contributors might want to do is put the page on their "watch list." Every time you log in, you can see what changes have been made since your last visit.


The problem is the editors have a lot of power to lock, change, delete and otherwise kill any posting. Reversion is only any use if they don't get involved.

I wouldn't want to rely on Wikipedia as the sole source. If its valuable, back it up.

Good advice.


2009:Iraq:Halfayah:Peak Year:250

Should be peak instead?

Be warned that the page is presently in active construction; it's incomplete, inconsistent, and changing very frequently.

What about using the web site instead of Wiki? You might have more control over it...? Or is it hard to implement software wise?

Rigzone has some data:

Looks like a lot of details, I picked one for the US, Mad Dog:

They have a lot of data, but it might not be up to date. It lists Ursa at 150,000, but according to people who have actually worked there recently, it was down to 75 to 80,000. They recently drilled a new well and reworked some old ones, are back up 95,000 as of a couple of months ago.

I've been thinking about this. I think for past projects, we need to put the design capacity even if reality turns out to be less (or more - Grane was designed for 214 but has been up to 240). If we start putting in actual volumes, rather than the design plateau capacity, then we aren't treating the future and the past on an equal footing.

In that approach, the decline from 150 to 75 or 95 becomes part of the decline rate (which seems appropriate).

Perhaps this is why CERA is always talking about Production Capacity? Because they can get good data on name plate capacity numbers on facilities, but not on how the fields are actually performing.

Drupal (what TOD uses) is not really set up for collaborative editing of content.

While it's fairly easy to add a wiki to any web domain (say at, I would submit that the "authoritativeness" of Wikipedia as a source of independent information far outweighs any danger of data loss especially since "backing up" is quite straightforward.

Is their a list of oil/gas journals that would
Is their a list of oil/gas journals that would be good sources ?

Since this is a ever changing list it might be a good idea to make this request itself part of the page.

And on a related note I've become interested in how much oil is actually being produced from what I call the tired old fields. MegaProjects is about the big new fields coming online. But it would be neat to have a list of past mega projects going back in time.
I'd love to see data back to 1980 :)

But the first interesting point historically is projects vs production when we first seriously slowed increases in production rate in 2003-2004.

Before this steep increases in production started abou be good sources ?

Since this is a ever changing list it might be a good idea to make this request itself part of the page.

And on a related note I've become interested in how much oil is actually being produced from what I call the tired old fields. MegaProjects is about the big new fields coming online. But it would be neat to have a list of past mega projects going back in time.
I'd love to see data back to 1980 :)

But the first interesting point historically is projects vs production when we first seriously slowed increases in production rate in 2003-2004.

Before this steep increases in production started abouf a technical interest. I'd like to see how new production stacks up agianst increasing water cut.
f a technical interest. I'd like to see how new production stacks up agianst increasing water cut.
t 2000 so around 2000.

Back in the past before 2000 its more of a technical interest. I'd like to see how new production stacks up against increasing water cut. This global water production report indicates to me that a lot of production seems to becoming from heavily depleted fields.

Its hard to understand the mega project list without a larger time window then we currently have. I've got no historical perspective. Obviously to get the production increases we have seen in the past and offset depletion we have brought a lot of oil online. So even though a 1mbpd project looks big this is something we have had to do year in and year out for decades. Basically every 4-5 years the Oil industry has succeeded in bringing a new Saudi Arabia online.

Until recently.

It seems to me the best place to look for megaprojects would be the oil companies themselves -- as for example one of the most prestigious oil publications "Oil and Gas Journal" receives their information concerning megaprojects second hand from, mainly (nowadays) national oil companies.

I noted that the Wikipedia megaprojects page doesn't include PetroChina's Bohai Bay oil development (although this may be in, if I recall, 2010 or so)(that was the largest oil discovery in China over the last 30 years, 7 bn barrels). Much of the information concerning Nigerian oil development (to my knowledge)is coming out of CNOOC (China National Offshore Corporation, which is developing offshore Nigerian oil projects). But of course one could check directly with Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation -- I don't know what they disclose since I haven't visited their website (yet). CNOOC is also doing most of the work in Keyna and Sudan -- with Sinopec -- but I don't think they have any major projects scheduled for production, last time I checked. I would check with Lukoil and Rosneft -- and Gazprom for Russian oil development. I'll see\e if I can work on this, time permitting.

One last point, the National Oil Co's in the Middle East and other OPEC tend to be a bit opaque -- for example, Petróleos de Venezuela I don't think had full disclosure on its heavy oil project -- which is now producing 600,000 bpd -- until a year or so ago. You'd have to do some digging to seeto see what they are doing, exactly.

Yes, most of the ones I've found that weren't on the other lists have come from trawling oilco websites.

Ok I'll see if I can do something with updating Bohai Bay (PetroChina) and Nigeria, -- I didn't see these projects on the list -- also there should be something in Libya that either Andarko Petroleum and/or ConnoPhilips is working on -- along with the National Oil Co of Libia Algeria's Sonatrach has several projects if I recall correctly. Uzbekistan's national oil co Uzbekneftegaz was going to go public this year -- I recall, if they didn't already -- wonder what they are up to. I noted even something as obscure as Tatneft -- for the Russian republic of Tatarstan -- has new heavy oil projects in the mix.

Excellent - any help is much appreciated.

Ok I've put in PetroChina's new oil discovery -- In Bohai Bay, the list is growing quite nicely, someone has already done Tupi for Petrobras -- they just announced that last month, and someone has done Lukoil's discovery last year V. Filanovsky (largest discovery in Russia over the last 20 years). Some co's are opaque so I'm working on what, for example, Uzbekistan -- their homepage is only in Uzbek language -- but have hinted they have new projects coming on line through other sources.

Thanks Stuart and others, for maintaining this mega-project-wiki.It is actually The_List in keeping track of where oil goes and of overall importance to human kind.

... a couple of thoughts

1 - Would it be an idea to have an annually updated chart/diagram of Total World C+C production on top, so that visitors could easily make their own summations, as to where this all goes .. most likely ?

2 - And also, would it be an idea to (if possible) differentiate ALREADY included Mega-projects (part of running productions) like the 2003, 2004 … and keep those in some different colors …. Just for more ease ?

What is the position on significant redevelopment of existing fields? After all a number of these megaprojects can be considered to be field redevelopment/extension (eg Haradh II & III)

I ask because the work in Mexico to push Ku-Maloob-Zaap from 240kb to 800kb to make up for Cantarell seems not to be there. Is there a case to consider these major redevelopments of existing fields that add significant amounts as megaprojects?

Stuart and Khebab,

I've always been a great fan of the megaprojects approach - untill I discovered how incomplete past lists have been. So this leaves the gigantic question "how complete is the current list?" And is the data freely available on the internet to produce a complete list even if one had the resources to gather and compile all the data?

Echoing GaryP's comment up the thread, I think to have any value at all you are going to have to record not just the year but also the month of first oil. And in addition to that some form of ramping and then decline schedule.

By way of example, you have the Grane project recorded as 214,000 bpd in 2003. A quick check with the NPD shows that Grane began production on 23 Sep 2003 and produced 0.751066 million M3 that year. That works out at roughly 47,700 bpd - for 99 days. And so the annualised average = 13,000 bpd - which is somewhat different to 214,000 bpd for 2003. By 2006, the project had ramped up to 217,000 bpd. Tracking these details is a lot of work and only possible in the UK and Norway where the data are available - impossible everywhere else.

I think megaprojects are a good way of estimating future new production capacity but am wary of trying to use this data to estimate decline rates. I was talking to Peter Jackson of CERA the other week and he told me they had completed a large study of decline on several hundred fields and found that their aggregate underlying decline rate estimate was 4.5% per annum - that sounds about right to me. I wonder if Peter would be willing to do a guest post on this vital subject? And so with 84 mmbpd global production, that means we need at least 3.78 mmbpd per annum new capacity just to compensate for underlying decline. And its there I feel tracking megaprojects has value. If there is going to be less than 3.78 mmbpd then global production will most likely decline - unless there is spare capacity to be brought on.

Month of first oil, and ramping and decline schedule are not widely available. So one is going to have to make some approximation of that in an actual analysis (eg one might analyze the situation for North Sea fields, and then assume the rest of the world was similar).

As to CERA - since they never give enough detail of how they do things to critique the methodology, and they have a track record of being completely wrong, I wouldn't give their report much credence.

At least for me the important issue probably is not MegaProjects but EOR. Since the MegaProject list is incomplete as this thread notes its hard to get a good handle on where our oil production increments are coming from.

But a shameless plug this paper is really important :)

We don't have a good handle on either mega projects or water production/water cut.

If we develop a good MegaProjects list we can subtract production from them to get a handle on how much production is coming from redevelopment of older fields and enhanced recovery. We have a pretty good case that EOR in general results in impressive but short lived production increases followed by increased decline rates.

If my suspicions are correct and EOR/Redevelopment is actually accounting for 50-75% of new production each year then ...

Memmel, I'm intrigued - why is this a "shameless plug".

I agree that global water cut is a very important issue. And its actualy in this arena that eroei may actually be important - the amount of energy required to double water handling facilities when the water cut is over 95% may well be a limiting factor in making that investment.

And was it you or Greyzone who was discussing the longevity of projects last week? I suspect this is a very important variable in determining how we reached this point. With new small fields lasting only a couple of years in the North Sea the energy return on engineering resources deployed will be falling rapidly. I don't know if this may also be an eroei threshold.

I tend to disagree, however, on comments passed about EOR projects - but would need to write a post on this to explain my position fully.

Please do !

Both me and Greyzone.

So far in my opinion I have enough circumstantial evidence that its worth considering that we are 80% or more depleted at a global level and its been primarily EOR thats enable us to keep increasing production at least until recently.

In a sense its a accounting thing EOR has taken care of decline and new production has resulted in a increase in overall production. If however I'm right and EOR is reaching the end i.e we only have so many fields we can redevelop and EOR has both provided the bulk of new production and declines quickly then we will be very dependent on our MegaProjects going forward.

Given that production seems to have begun to decline sooner than most people expected I'm pretty sure I'm partially right :)

Getting a better handle on MegaProjects esp overtime will go a long way's to understanding the nature of our oil supply and if my concern is justified. The relation to EOR issues is simply its a lot harder to get data on EOR production increases so a solid MegaProject understanding allows use to do some simple subtraction to get a handle on EOR.

But please post your thoughts. I think a good is it MegaProjects vs EOR debate would be super cool !

memmel i have some thoughts but don't want to diverge this thread.
please email me - nate at theoildrum dot com

BTW, NPR had something on PO today:

Oil Production Forecasts

Some industry experts are forecasting global oil production to plateau by 2012. We'll talk about oil supply and demand forecasts and their implications for both global security and climate change.


Matt Simmons, chair, Simmons & Co International, a specialized energy investment banking firm and author of "Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy"

David Kirsch, manager, market intelligence service, PFC Energy, an energy consulting firm

Larry Chorn, chief economist, Platts, an energy and commodities information division of McGraw-Hill

Mike Toman, director, environment, energy, and economic development program at the RAND Corporation


There was an article posted in the DB a few days ago in which the Pres of French TOTAL came right out and admitted that the investments are not being made to maintain - let alone expand - production capacity. This suggests to me that another good thing to get a handle on is not just capacity, but also dollars.

How much is committed to projects "in the pipeline"? How much is needed to push other drawing board projects into the pipeline?

If we had some handle on the dollars needed to add capacity, then could we also get some sort of handle on how realistic it might be to think that those projects might actually happen?

The biggest issue found so far is that the Haradh II project


You are conflating the Haradh II project with the Haradh III project. Haradh III was not started until 2004, and the GOSP and MRC wells were not completed until 2006. Re-read this phrase from the document you referenced on the Wiki page:

The field consists of three subsegments of approximately equivalent reserves, with an aggregate oil initially in place of 38 billion STB. Initial production from Haradh I occurred in May 1996, followed up by Haradh II and Haradh III in April 2003 and February 2006, respectively.

Haradh illustrates some of the problems with lack of data. Saudi Aramco has published graphs showing that the output from Haradh III has been 3 MBPD, but they usually just refer to Haradh(s) I and II as having capacity of 3 MBPD, which just sounds to me like a convenient number. Given the problems with the Haradh area, it seems unlikely that those earlier upgrades are performing as well as Haradh III.

No, I'm not conflating them. Haradh II came on line in 2003, while Haradh III came on line in 2006. Each has a 300kbd capacity GOSP (though actual production we don't have data on of course). Check the refs I provided.

Sorry, I got confused because your reference to the Haradh II project in Wikipedia pointed to an article about Haradh III.

Enough data has been presented on Haradh III that I believe it actually produces 300 kbd, but Haradh I and II could be anything - but most likely a lot less.

Your list needs to be integrated with the special report Upstream production capacities to advance in many countries, an extensive list from the Oil & Gas Journal July 23, 2007, Volume 105, #28 by Guntis Morris.

Here's the link --

Upstream Projects

There are inaccuracies or omissions in the Megaprojects list, as I discussed with Skrebowski at ASPO-USA's Houston conference. I was working on an integrated list, but I've dropped the ball on that lately due to some personal business.

Contact me if you can't get a copy because nobody has a subscription. I have now saved a copy of the data table (in a pdf) and can post it to a place on the web where you can find it if you want to. Use my dave . aspo @ gmail . com address.


Outstanding Dave - I grabbed a copy from their website.

Many thanks Dave!

Ku-Maloop-Zaap (KMZ) in Mexico is supposed to increase to 0.8 from 0.3 by 2010. Do you want the difference or the total project size? I don't see it on the wiki.

See posting above which didn't get an answer.

To my mind there are a continuum of project types and the only cut off point should be major new capacity, not general maintenance.

From what I'm seeing in this discussion, there is a lot of room for honest differences of opinion on the content of this table. I think there is also a lot of experience in various scientific fields on separating data collection from data reduction. Working with just one table for both data display and data input is known to be inadequate on projects that are much smaller than this one. Its OK to lurch into something like this and learn from what happens, but with just a little foresight a lot of wheel spinning can become useful work.

The first step should be to set up a system for recording the various news reports verbatim, with complete indication of the source, for verification. Then write a policy document that sets forth in datail how various common waffle worded statements shall be translated into data suitable for use in the table. Then translate news reports to data according to policy.

A policy document that lays out in plain English what is being said in oil company news releases might be a useful entry in Wikipedia, independent of this megaproject study.

I will be delighted to help out with this effort. As can likely be gleaned by my comments, I come to this field from the investment side. I spend most of my time researching the publicly traded companies, so, I am quite up to date on their projects, per their most recent reports to investors. As soon as I take the HTML tutorial, I will make some revisions in the Canadian Oil Sands area(s). This is a great project.