By SUMMER SAID
DUBAI -- Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi on Monday said the
rise of unconventional energy sources doesn't threaten his
country's dominant role in world oil supply because demand also
"I don't think anyone should fear new supplies when set
against increasing global demand," Mr. Naimi said in a speech
at the Brookings Doha Center. "More companies and nations are
competing for their slice of the energy pie, that's true. But
the pie is getting bigger and there is enough to go
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude producer, has seen
its lead narrow sharply in the past year as a result of the
boom in US shale oil.
US crude production in November and December topped 7
million bpd for the first time in 20 years. At the same time,
Saudi Arabia reduced its oil production to 9.025 million bbl in
December, 5% less than in November. It was the kingdom's
deepest cut in almost three years, reflecting weaker demand,
chiefly from Asian nations.
The US government recently forecast that US crude output
will swell to 7.5 million bpd within six months. The
International Energy Agency, which represents key oil
consumers, has predicted the US will overtake Saudi Arabia by
Mr. Naimi said he US "will undoubtedly have a greater
role to play," in the global energy scene but oil outlook
remains strong, particularly from Asian countries.
Last month, Mr. Naimi said that prospects for global
production of shale gas and oil -- including in China, Ukraine
and Poland -- were so promising that the kingdom might not need
to continue with its decades-long policy of maintaining an output
cushion in case of disruptions in global supply.
Saudi Arabia itself intends to remain a world energy
powerhouse for the foreseeable future, partly by exploiting new
technology that has unlocked vast
quantities of oil and natural gas in North America.
It will push ahead this year with exploratory drilling of shale
and other unconventional gas reserves which Mr. Naimi has said
could be twice as large as its conventional gas reserves, which
total 286 trillion cubic feet.
Mr. Naimi said Monday he was certain that Gulf members of
the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will continue
to fulfill their role as stable suppliers of energy to world
"We are working to boost economic growth at home, and we
will continue to work with our customers across the world to
ensure we meet all demand going forward," he added.
Dow Jones Newswires