Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, risks becoming an oil importer in the next 20 years, according to Citigroup Inc.
Oil and its derivatives are used for about half of the kingdom’s electricity production, which at peak rates is growing at about 8 percent a year, the bank said today in a an e-mailed report. A quarter of the country’s fuel production is used domestically, more per capita than other industrialized nations, as the cost is subsidized, according to the note.
“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.
Saudi Arabia, which depends on oil for 86 percent of its annual revenue, is accelerating exploration for gas and is planning to develop solar and nuclear power to preserve more of its valuable crude for export. The kingdom has refused to import gas, unlike neighboring producers such as Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates that also lack fuel for power generation.
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