The United States Government has just asked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to raise the levels of its oil production this summer. Oil production is otherwise anticipated to be at some 9.8 mbd this summer, with fluctuations of around 200 kbd about that number. (There are rumors it has just hit 10 mbd.) It is reported that the KSA could raise production to 12.5 mbd if needed. And the Saudi Oil Minister, Ali al-Naimi has now stated that the KSA is able to meet that commitment.
Since I started writing about peak oil back in 2005, the possible maximum sustainable production achievable from the Kingdom has been one of the recurring issues at The Oil Drum, and there have been a number of very perceptive analyses carried out by folk such as Euan Mearns, Stuart Staniford, and JoulesBurn that I do not intend to try and surpass. I will, however, try and summarize some of their conclusions as I work through a few posts that look at the overall production from the various fields that are found both on and offshore Saudi Arabia.
As an initial point, not all the oil that comes from the country is of the same quality, and this is often one of the initial factors that folk do not appreciate when they look, for example, at the two numbers I gave above, that which the KSA is producing, relative to that which it might be able to achieve. The problem arises with the heavier crudes that make up a part of the surplus, and for which there is not a great market out there, as yet. So let me begin the review with, this week, just simply looking at an overall view of the country, the oilfields that comprise regions of major production and what sort of oil that they are producing.