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Saudi Arabia could soon be a net oil importer – soon

16 Oct

Citigroup Inc. has said the world’s biggest crude exporter, Saudi Arabia risks becoming an oil importer in the next 20 years. Oil and its derivatives are used for about half of the kingdom’s electricity production, which at peak rates is growing at about 8% a year, the bank said.

If Saudi Arabian oil consumption grows in line with peak power demand, the country could be a net oil importer by 2030,

Heidy Rehman, an analyst at the bank, wrote. The country already consumes all its natural-gas production and plans to develop nuclear power, which pose execution risk amid a lack of available experts, safety issues and cost overruns, Rehman said.

Read our previous post:  Saudi oil: The threat from within

Saudi Arabia is home to less than half a percent of the world’s population — and fully 16 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. Nonetheless, Citigroup projects that the desert nation may become an oil importer in the next 20 years. “If Saudi Arabian oil consumption grows in line with peak power demand, the country could be a net oil importer by 2030,” Heidy Rehman wrote in a 150 page report for the bank.

Already Saudi Arabia uses a quarter of its fuel production and all of its natural gas domestically, meaning that its per capita consumption is higher than the United States despite its miniscule industrial base. Demand for electricity, moreover, is expected to grow by as much as 8 percent a year.

The Telegraph has more:

The basic point — common to other Gulf oil producers — is that Saudi local consumption is rocketing. Residential use makes up 50 percent of demand, and over two thirds of that is air-conditioning.

The Saudis also consume 250 litres per head per day of water — the world’s third highest (which blows the mind), growing at nine percent a year — and most of this is provided from energy-guzzling desalination plants.

Analysts including Jeremy Leggett of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security have suggested that dwindling Saudi Arabian exports could contribute to a global fuel shortage, potentially causing “massive stress to the global economy.”

Renowned Oil Industry Expert, Mike Rothman says “Nevertheless, with refined product oil demand growing about 7% a year, the Saudis are consuming more than 25% of their total oil production (crude & liquids) – which looks to keep expanding. Aside from the issue of OPEC’s spare output capacity having been exhausted, the KSA’s oil burn, at a minimum, contributes to the Saudi’s hawkish oil price stance.”

Rehman’s report comes less than six months after another Citi report, which predicted an era of oil abundance — and of reduced American dependence on OPEC:

[T]he US has become the fastest growing oil and natural gas producing area of the world and is now the most important marginal source for oil and gas globally. Add to this steadily growing Canadian production and a comeback in Mexican production and you get to a higher growth rate than all of OPEC can sustain.

Download the entire report: Energy 2020 – North America, The New Middle East

Either way, Saudi Arabia’s share of global exports is on the wane, so the United States had better stop treating it as a de facto Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Read our previous post: Saudi Arabia’s Domestic Energy Consumption – Burning up Export Potential

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