Conventional Oil Production Snapshot

Amidst the spectacular collapse in oil prices and all the talk about the oil glut, from Peak Oil Barrel here’s a snapshot of latest OPEC oil production, the producing nations with the majority of the cheap-to-produce conventional oil.


OPEC-12: the 12-member organization consists of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Venezuela, Iraq, Qatar, Libya, Algeria, Nigeria, Ecuador and Angola.

Together, OPEC accounts for about 43% of the world’s oil production, or about 30 million barrels per day (bpd).

Key observations

  • OPEC production peaked in 2008 and subsequently 2012, and only four countries, namely Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and UAE had managed to hold their own and struggled to increase production since.
  • The other eight members, combined, peaked in 2005 and have declined by about 3 million bpd since.
  • The above happened during the period when oil prices were consistently north of $100 a barrel prior to the price collapse in late 2014. So it is safe to assume that any production decline during that time was not price driven.

Note: the data is crude only and does not include crude condensate or other liquids as are commonly reported nowadays (check here to see the definitions of different oil components and why it is important to separate oil and condensate from other liquids).

All graphs courtesy of same Peak Oil Barrel article.

Overall production from all 12 members. Notice the twin peaks in 2008 and 2012.

OPEC-12 oil production


Only four out of the 12, namely, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and UAE, managed to hold their own and grow production,

oil production of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and UAE

while …. the remaining eight saw production decline.

other 8


Looking closer at some of the key individual nations…

Saudi Arabia (~10.6 million bpd) – First King Saudi… contrary to the finger pointing from the West, the Saudis have not increased production; they just have not scaled back production like they did in the past in light of soft world demand and an increase in US tight oil production.

Saudi Arabia oil production


Iraq (~3.6 million bpd) – the only truly bright spot out there.

Iraq oil production


UAE (~2.8 million bpd) – about 150 thousand bpd higher than their 2008 peak.

UAE oil production


Kuwait (~2.7 million bpd) – still above their 2008 peak but is clearly trending down.

Kuwait oil production


Iran (~2.7 million bpd) – still struggling under Western sanctions.

Iran oil production


Venezuela (~2.3 million bpd) – this oil rich country can’t seem to get its act together, and now the oil sector and its entire economy as a whole is facing imminent collapse.

Venezuela oil production


Nigeria (1.9 million bpd) – continues to be plagued by political problems.

Nigeria oil production


Qtar (~0.7 million bpd) – 200,000 bpd below its 2008, in what looks like a terminal decline.

Qatar oil production


Libya (0.5 million bpd) – saw its production on a wild ride as a result of the ongoing civil war.

Libya oil production


The takeaway: beneath the surface of the ‘oil glut’ and price slump, conventional oil is steady and onwards along its path of depletion, while tar sands, tight oil and other expensive non-conventional oils are crimped by market prices far below their breakeven production prices.

Therefore, the price of oil, beyond the short/intermediate term when it is subject to wild swings and overshoots to the downside due to geopolitical reasons, and barring a severe global economic downturn which is a distinct possibility at this point, cannot stay down at the current level for long. The supply side fundamentals will eventually re-assert itself in a forceful manner.


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