Letter Re: Oilfield Production Decline Rates are Worse than Expected

Dear Jim and Family,
I wish I could say Happy New Year, but i just learned some terrible news in the oil business. The big fields where most of the USA and world get their oil are declining at much faster rates than expected, and the companies are willing to admit to high numbers.

In summary: Burgan field in Kuwait dropping at 11% per year.
Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia (biggest in the world) dropping at 8%, which is 5.5% higher than expected.
Cantarell field in Mexico (source of most US oil) is dropping at 14% rather than the 6% they thought was a worst case scenario back in September. That’s an 8% increase in decline in only 3 months. That’s very bad. Cantarell could collapse and abruptly stop producing oil. It almost certainly will later this year.
Venezuela is declining at an unknown rate.
Nigeria is suffering a civil war which reduces its oil production. “Youths?” Call them rebels; its more honest.

And to make matters worse, there’s some kind of infighting going on in Saudi Arabia. If this rises to the point of even interrupting production in the oil terminals controlled by Saudi Arabia, a conservative 16% of world oil production will suddenly be shut off. This would immediately result in a bidding war for oil tanker deliveries and drive the price of a barrel past $100, probably a lot more, like $170 or so. Maybe higher in the panic buying stage. Gasoline can be expected to pass $8 per gallon and probably go higher. The entire 3rd world, except oil producers themselves, won’t have gasoline or diesel anymore. Expect severe collapse and famine to begin almost immediately.

And the really bad news? Even without a collapse in Saudi Arabia, the decline in production from those big fields will cause this to happen over the duration of 2007. It may be a more “slow motion” collapse than a fast one, but the price of oil will rise to destroy consumption, which will hurt the poorest nations most, those least able to afford modern conveniences. Full expect civil wars to break out there over this collapse. I am sad about this prospect. My medication comes from New Jersey. I really hope they keep shipping it through the coming troubles. Sincerely, – InyoKern