Ghawar in decline?

Ghawar in decline?  Evidence is mounting that Saudi Arabia's Ghawar, the world's largest oil field (the king of kings…), is in decline. Here's some excellent analysis from Stuart Staniford on 2006 production data. Particularly telling is the rapid growth in new wells as production falls along a steady slope (a classic warning sign):

The Oil Drum: Overall, I feel this data is clear enough that I'm willing to go out on a limb and conclude the following:

  • Saudi Arabian oil production is now in decline.
  • The decline rate during the first year is very high (8%), akin to decline rates in other places developed with modern horizontal drilling techniques such as the North Sea.
  • Declines are rather unlikely to be arrested, and may well accelerate.

I suggest that this is likely to place severe political strains on Saudi Arabia within a year or two at most.

Makes me think of Joseph Tainter's premise: that complex civilizations can only continue to add complexity (to solve ever more complex problems) as long as they have access to an inexpensive/inexhaustable source of energy. The type of the energy input changes from civ to civ, but the premise doesn't.  – John Robb [John Robb's Weblog]

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