Friday, August 2, 2013

What are the Saudis so afraid of?

A Saudi prince has warned that his oil-reliant nation is under threat because of fracking technology being developed in the U.S. and spreading around the world. OPEC is now caught between Riyadh and a hard place.

Indicative of the panic rippling through the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries over the U.S.-led fracking boom, billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal says his Gulf Arab kingdom needs to reduce its reliance on crude oil and diversify its revenues, lest the era of gold-plated toilets come to an end.

In an open letter to his country's oil minister Ali al-Naimi and other government heads, published on Sunday via his Twitter account, Prince Alwaleed said demand for oil from OPEC member states was "in continuous decline" as a result of the technology that has unleashed vast deposits of oil and natural gas worldwide.

In a report earlier this month, OPEC forecast demand for its oil in 2014 would average 29.61 million barrels per day (bpd), down 250,000 bpd from 2013. It cited rising non-OPEC supply, especially from the U.S.

The latest threat to OPEC's fossil fuel dominance comes from Britain, where the British Geological Society significantly increased its estimate of the amount contained in the country's shale rocks to 1,300 trillion cubic feet. Experts said this could translate into enough to supply the U.K. with natural gas for 25 years.

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