This month’s crude oil graph compares Russian and Saudi Arabian crude production. Russia is now #1 producer, around 1.3 mb/d higher than Saudi Arabia which lost production share. This means there are limits to Saudi Arabia’s capacity to pump oil.
The graph also shows that during the boom period in the 1st half of 2008 Russia could not increase production.
Let’s zoom into the 2003 period. There was the Venezuelan strike and then the Iraq war. Saudi Arabia could not offset these production losses as the claimed spare capacity could not be activated
5 years later, in 2008, extra demand from China for the Olympic games again challemged Saudi oil supplies. The peak didn’t last long. In the meantime projects like Khurais have come on-stream but it is not clear whether this is just offsetting decline in other Saudi fields or whether this is part of real additional capacity which can be sustained over many years. In any case, world oil demand is now highly vulnerable to what happens in oil-geologically limited crude oil supply systems.
All data are from: http://www.eia.doe.gov/ipm/