Burning oil to keep cool
Burning oil to keep cool. The hidden energy crisis in Saudi Arabia / Glada Lahn and Paul Stevens, Chatham House, December 2011, 49 p. ISBN 978 1 86203 259 0
Presentation (copyright © Chatham House) :
- Domestic energy demand growth in Saudi Arabia is cause for international concern. If it continues at the current rate, it will jeopardize the country’s ability to stabilize world oil markets.
- Given Saudi Arabia’s level of dependence on oil revenues, excessive consumption will cause economic and social pressures long before oil exports end – within a decade if nothing changes.
- Current policies are not enough. Planned additions of renewable power supply would help maintain the fiscal balance for an additional two to three years; given the lead times nuclear power would have little or no impact.
- Huge economic, social and environmental gains from energy conservation are possible in Saudi Arabia but the long period of low prices and the bureaucratic structure of the state present several challenges to implementing effective pricing policy and regulatory measures.
- Fear of confronting these challenges has deterred meaningful government action in the past. However, some immediate, targeted investments could produce effective results even in the absence of price reforms.
- Raising prices is politically difficult but international experience can help in preparing society through a range of efficiency, educational and infrastructure adaptation measures to smooth the transition. This must be done within a package of measures that increase private-sector employment for Saudi nationals.