RIYADH (AFP) – With vast oil reserves that are far from exhausted, Saudi Arabia, facing rising domestic energy demand that could cut into its oil exports, has decided to explore nuclear and renewable energy, Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi has said.
“We have started to take the required steps to utilise several energy sources locally, in particular solar and nuclear energy,” he told a conference in Riyadh.
In the next 20 years, we could see an increase in domestic oil consumption to around eight million barrels per day, approaching its current output, a former commerce minister and head of a Saudi energy research centre said.
“The demand for electricity is steadily increasing — it was 40 gigawatts in 2010, and is expected to reach 120 gigawatts in 2032,” Hashem Yamani, the director of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, told journalists.
At the same time, he said, “local demand for oil, which is currently about 3.2 million barrels per day, could rise to eight million barrels per day in 2028.”
“This will ultimately limit the export capacity of the kingdom, and of development,” he said. “That is why we are determined to transform a country dependent solely on oil to different sources of energy — nuclear and renewables.”