Saudi Arabia's commitment to meeting rising demand for oil and gas from the global markets will be a key driver in efforts to revive global economic growth, according to International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Maria Van der Hoeven.
Van der Hoeven told the global publishing, research and consultancy firm Oxford Business Group (OBG) that the state-owned Saudi Aramco's capacity to provide 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) more than current production levels took on added importance in the current economic climate.
"Saudi Arabia has long been a lynchpin of global oil and gas production," she said. "The Kingdom has proven a reliable partner and supplier. I am particularly glad to have such reassurances now."
Van der Hoeven highlighted the investment Saudi Arabia was channeling into key developments which she said would prove instrumental in helping the Kingdom maintain production.
"A large new offshore oil field, Manifa, is due to come on-stream in early 2013," she said. "In addition, the Kingdom's first large offshore gas field, Karan, is coming on-stream around late 2012."
The full-length commentary by Van der Hoeven will appear in The Report: Saudi Arabia 2013, the group's forthcoming guide on the country's economic activity and investment opportunities. The landmark report will include a detailed, sector-by-sector guide for foreign investors, alongside a wide range of interviews with the most prominent political, economic and business leaders, including Turkey's Minister of Economy Zafer Ca layan, the former prime minister of Pakistan Shaukat Aziz and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.
With concern mounting that Saudi Arabia's strong growth could lead to the Kingdom consuming much of its own oil output by the middle of the next decade, Van der Hoeven was keen to map out the country's exploration efforts. "Saudi Arabia is certainly not standing still," she said. "It has successfully explored for extra gas in the southeast and is exploring in the north-west of the Kingdom and offshore in the Red Sea."
She added that Saudi Arabia was also well placed to play a key role in developing sustainable energy technologies which it was exploring through scientific research.
"Saudi Arabia holds a natural advantage in solar power, and experience elsewhere in the region suggests that the Kingdom could benefit from both photovoltaic systems and from developing larger concentrated solar power projects," she said. "The IEA is pleased with the collaboration we enjoy with Saudi Arabia, and impressed by the nation's dynamic plans for energy developments."