The Nations on the Arabian Peninsula, most notably Saudi Arabia, already dominate world oil production. Today’s news suggest the region may try to boost its oil output, while at the same time concentrating on developing renewable energy sources like solar, and shale gas. Both ‘resources’ are plentiful in the region. Recent reports have shown that Israel also has access to massive opportunities in shale oil.
Saudi Arabia’s oil minister has announced that the energy giant is looking to employ fracking at home in order to access an estimated 600 trillion cubic feet of natural shale gas reserves. The find would also give access to associated oil reserves boosting the country’s output. The country’s oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, was not as optimistic about shale oil fracking, because of the amount of the resource currently being exploited up in North America.
The country is in desperate need of alternative energy resources as its oil supplies will not last forever. According to a a Bloomberg article, the country could be consuming more oil than it produces by 2020 if increases in the energy demand continues. Oil is the major component of the Saudi Arabian economy, and its export supplies the government with the largest part of its revenues.
Domestic energy needs are to be met with alternative resources if recent moves by the country’s government are noted. According to mnn.com last month the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy announced a plan that would see 41 gigawatts of solar energy added to the country’s grid in the next 20 years. Market pressures are sending Saudi Arabia toward a sustainable solution, but they might not remain prevalent if fracking is successful.
According to the same piece, other gulf nations like the UAE and Qatar are also planning transitions into solar energy. Dubai announced plans 1000 megawatt plant earlier his year, the firs phase of which will be completed this year. Qatar is planning to have stadiums powered by solar when it hosts the 2020 World Cup.
If Saudi Arabia’s fracking program proves successful, and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas does exist under the country, the resource could become cheap enough to put off the introduction of solar power for decades. At current demand levels, 600 trillion cubic feet is around 170 years of energy for Saudi Arabia.
There are also other options for the country. Saudi Arabia is working with China to begin construction of nuclear power. Gas from Saudi Arabia could change the world’s political map, though it might not be a good thing. Difficulties in transporting natural gas have kept prices high across the world; however, prices remain extremely low in the United States. Saudi Arabia is changing, and energy is at the top of the country’s reform list.