LONDON: Saudi Arabia will remain the largest global oil exporter for years to come despite the growth of the US oil sector, according to the chief of the International Energy Agency (IEA).
IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol told the World Economic Forum in Davos that despite a rapidly changing global energy sector, the Kingdom would remain a key player.
But he added that the importance of the US shale sector should not be underestimated as it had been in the past.
“The Middle East and especially Saudi Arabia will remain the largest exporter of oil for many years to come,” he told an energy panel at the annual gathering of global political and business leaders in the Swiss mountain resort.
Official data from Saudi Arabia released on Monday showed the Kingdom’s crude oil exports in November rose to 8.235 million bpd from 7.7 million in October.
“The US produce a lot of oil but most of the time they use that at home for domestic purposes. So even though US is now a very important oil producer, the Middle East will remain the largest exporter of oil.
“But for this year, 2019, let’s pay special attention to US shale once again because some of the observers last year I think made wrong assumptions and underestimated US shale growth,” said Birol.
The huge growth of the US shale oil industry has transformed the energy landscape in the US, which until last month had been a net importer of oil for the last 75 years.
Oil prices fell nearly 2 percent on Tuesday, pushed lower by signs of a slowdown in China.