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Saudis hold oil reserves for 80 years of production: Aramco CEO

Habib Shaikh
Filed on September 18, 2010

At current production rates, Saudi Arabia has oil reserves for more than 80 years of sustained production, according to Khalid A. Al-Falih, the president and the CEO of Saudi Aramco.

Addressing the 21st World Energy Congress in Montreal, Al-Falih said that Aramco’s capability went even beyond, as it was expecting to increase its current reserves of 260 billion barrels by an additional 40 per cent and was endeavouring to raise the rate of recovery from its major existing fields to 70 per cent — twice the world average.

However, warning the global energy leaders of the discriminating against select energy resources, Al-Falih questioned the very logic of almost four-and-a-half per cent per year on average growth in the global coal consumption in this decade as against just one-and-a-half per cent growth in oil consumption during the same period.

He said this was all the more beyond common logic especially since attention to climate change and global warming was on the increase. With two billion people with no access to modern forms of energy and while another two billion only enjoying limited access, the world needs lot more energy than is available today. And selective discrimination against oil hurts this global objective. Changing life styles and the addition of yet another two billion people by the middle of the century meant the world would continue to rely on traditional fossil fuels for most of its energy needs for the coming decades.

He argued that the contribution of the alternatives will grow — albeit slowly — and in absolute terms, the demand for fossil fuel would only go up. However, the discrimination against oil may thwart investments in the sector.

Saudi Aramco has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to a CO2 enhanced oil recovery demonstration project that could boost oil production by injecting into the reservoir CO2 that otherwise would have been emitted into the atmosphere.

“This technology not only protects the environment through carbon capture, but also boosts energy by enhancing ultimate recovery rates from (existing) oil reservoirs,” he said underlining a win-win strategy.

Earlier, Daniel Yergin, eminent energy expert and IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates chairperson, said global energy demand would rise as much as 40 per cent in the next 20 years.

With the global economy projected to grow from the current $62 trillion to $120 trillion by 2030, the demand for energy is going to grow exponentially.

“Demand for energy has been growing. It has already grown by 40 per cent since 1990. Between 1990 and 2010, about 1.4-billion people were added to the list of countries that enjoyed per capita income of higher than $10, 000,” Yergin said,

“In the next 20 years, we expect to see about three billion people moving into that range of $10 000 -- 30,000 per year of income. That will have an enormous impact on energy demand,” he said.

Peter Voser, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell plc, said that in a world of surging demand, “we need to mobilise the world’s entire mix of energy resources, unless indeed we want to risk condemning billions of people to energy poverty.”

He said that while there seems to be a talk of a gas revolution taking place in the world, with a glut in sight, gas in the form of LNG will be required in still larger quantities in growing and emerging markets, Thailand, Singapore, Pakistan, besides indeed China and the traditional markets in Europe. “Hydrocarbons are here to stay,” he added.

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