Peak oil in Venezuela: El Furrial oil field

We see the impact of the conventional oil peak in Venezuela. As an example let’s look at the El-Furrial field.

Autopista-CaracasFig 1: Not La-Hora-Zero (yet) but low voter turn-out for the May 20 Maduro election


Where is El Furrial?

It is located 30 km west of the capital Maturin of the State of Monogas (named after a 19th century president, population 1 million) in the North East corner of Venezuela.
Furrial_Maturin_MonagasFig 2: Location of El Furrial


East_Venezuela Fig 3: Geological setting

Furrial-trend_map_3Dview_2009Fig 4: Map and 3D view of 3 fields

Exploration on the northern flank of the East Venezuela basin started in 1978. In 1986, discovery well FUL-1 penetrated 276 m of net oil sandstone and produced up to 7300 bbl of 26° API oil per day. El Furrial turned out to be a giant oil field (6×14 km at 14,000 ft) and 4 years later in 1990 reserves were estimated at 1.2 Gb

In 1999 PDVSA estimated following production profile for the 3 neighbouring fields of El Furrial, Santa Barbara and Carito with a peak around 2006

Carito_Barbara_FurrialFig 5: Cumulative production of 7.4 Gb over 19 years

Promedio: average, Base de recursos: resource base, Inversiones: investments, Gastos: expenditure, VPN: net present value

Water and gas injection

Production went through several phases. After 6 years of primary production pressure had gone down to 8,000 psi at which point water injection started. Gas injection was added another 6 years later. By 2013 (the year in which Maduro came to power) pressure had fallen again to such an extent that artificial gas lift was necessary.

Reservoir-Pressure-Behavior-for-El-Furrial-FieldFig 6: Maintaining reservoir pressure (SPE paper Oct 2013)

In December 2014, a presentation by Julio Herbas Pizarro for an Abu Dhabi workshop on enhanced oil recovery (EOR) shows more details on the impact of water and gas injection:

abu-dhabi-dec-2014-eor-workshop-julio-herbas-8-1024Fig 7: El Furrial Impact of water and gas injection

Actual production

Furrial_production_cumulative_1986-2016Fig 8: Oil production in El Furrial (PDVSA statistics)

Oil reserves

El-Furrial_cumulative_and_reserves_2001-16Fig 9: El Furrial cumulative production and reserves from PDVSA

Remaining proved reserves given by PDVSA for end 2016 were 861 mb. See table (p 42) in “Informe de gestión annual 2016”

But the shape of the time series of cumulative production (red columns) suggests that the curve seems to asymptotically approach a much lower ultimate recoverable. A simple Hubbert linearization shows a trend towards an ultimate of 3.5 Gb.

El_Furrial_Hubbert_Lin_2016Fig 7: El Furrial Hubbert linearization using above production data

Jean Laherrere from ASPO France arrives at a slightly higher number:

El_Furrial_2017_LaherrereFig 8: Estimate of ultimate recoverable (EUR) by Jean Laherrere


In a political system like in Venezuela it is even more difficult to beat oil decline at the end of an oil field’s life. Watch out for what’s going to happen on Caracas’ autopistas.