The oil industry's dilemma on supply

It's not easy being an oil billionaire all the time.

The oil industry is swimming in revenue. Sales for the member states of OPEC hit $649 billion last year, a 22 percent increase. Oil also hit a recent (but not an all-time) high of $78.81 a barrel.

But it's also getting more expensive to find new sources of oil and extract it. (The industry is also facing a hiring crunch.)

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) tallied some stats in an article earlier this week culling data from various sources. Here are some of the more interesting ones:

Cambridge Energy Research Associates says the capital costs for extracting oil have gone up 80% since 2000. The price of crude, meanwhile, has about doubled. Thus, revenue is going up but expenses are keeping pace.

The production cost of a barrel of oil have risen from $5 in 2001 to $20.40 last year, according to Lehman Brother. The firm said the cost should rise $5 to $10 a year for several years.

Drilling projects in Kazakhstan and the Sakhalin Islands have been delayed for several years, in part because of spiraling costs.

OPEC's production last year came to about 32 million barrels a day, up 3.2 percent.

It's a good news/bad news scenario. Gas will probably cost more. At the same time, though, expect to see oil producers spend more on high tech equipment to extract oil. At the same time, the public's demand for green fuels may grow as prices continue to rise. (Even oil rich nations don't like high oil prices all of the time. Abu Dhabi is investing in solar.

More on all of these issues later in the fall. OPEC holds a meeting in Vienna on September 11 and will release stats on the industry on September 13.

 

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