October 29, 2008 / 1:08 AM / 11 years ago

Watchdog warns on declining oilfield output: report

LONDON (Reuters) - Output from the world’s oilfields is declining faster than previously thought, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, quoting from a draft International Energy Agency report it had obtained.

The newspaper said the watchdog’s annual World Energy Outlook report, which studied the biggest fields, showed that without extra investment to raise production, the natural annual rate of output decline was 9.1 percent.

The findings suggested the world would struggle to produce enough oil to make up for steep declines in existing fields, such as those in the North Sea, Russia and Alaska, and to meet long-term demand, said the Financial Times.

It said the issue would become even more acute as prices fell and investment decisions were delayed.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) acts as policy adviser to 28 member countries, including the United States, Japan, Canada and leading European nations.

The IEA forecast China, India and other developing countries’ demand would require investments of $360 billion each year until 2030, said the newspaper.

“The future rate of decline in output from producing oilfields as they mature is the single most important determinant of the amount of new capacity that will need to be built globally to meet demand,” the IEA was quoted as saying.

The watchdog said the world needed to make a “significant increase in future investments just to maintain the current level of production.”

The battle to replace mature oilfields’ output could even offset the decline in demand growth, which had given the industry a reprieve in the past few months, it said.

The Financial Times said the IEA predicted in its report, due to be published next month, that demand would be damped, “reflecting the impact of much higher oil prices and slightly slower economic growth.”

The IEA expected oil consumption in 2030 to reach 106.4 million barrels a day, down from last year’s forecast of 116.3 million, said the newspaper.

It said the projections could yet be revised lower because the draft report was written a month ago, before the global financial crisis deepened after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Reporting by Ralph Gowling, editing by Bernard Orr

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