Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali Naimi said on Thursday he expects fossil fuels will supply the bulk of global energy needs for at least the next 50 years.
To meet future demand, the number one producer, and by far the most influential member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is boosting production, he told delegates at the International Oil Summit in Paris.
“Moving from our current sources of energy, primarily fossil fuels, to a dominant new source will require at least half a century and perhaps more given the various challenges associated with such a broad based convergence, he said.
“Fossil fuels can be and should be made environmentally friendly sources of energy, particularly as they will continue to meet the lion’s share of energy needs for the foreseeable future,” the minister said.
Naimi said carbon capture and storage will help to clean up fossil fuels, which “should be supplemented with truly renewable energy sources.”
Ethanol and other biofuels do not meet environmental and energy security goals, he said.
Their cultivation eats into the human food supply, reduces the absorption of carbon dioxide as forests are cut down, has not improved the security of energy supply and has not reduced petrol prices, he said. Biofuels also enjoy “financial favoritism” from governments.
The Saudi minister flagged solar energy as “perhaps the best source” of alternative energy, predicting researchers will succeed in making solar cells “more effective” to expand use.
Saudi Arabia is spending over $90 billion (Dh330.3 billion) in next five years to boost its production capacity, he said.
Saudi Arabia has 264 billion barrels of crude oil reserves with the potential to increase this by at least 200 billion barrels, he said. Natural gas reserves of 268 trillion cubic feet could be doubled.
Saudi Arabia also plans to double its refining capacity from 3 to 6 million barrels per day, he said. “Our major source of contribution to the global economy is through our petroleum resources,” he told conference delegates.
Oil prices steadied near $111 (Dh407.37) a barrel on Thursday after jumping to a new record in the previous session on an unexpected drop in US crude inventories.
The decline in crude stockpiles pushed light sweet crude for May delivery up $2.37 to settle at a record $110.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday. It rose as high as $112.21 a barrel during the floor session, surpassing the previous trading record of $111.80 set last month.
Naimi said prices are not rising because of a lack of supply.
“I believe inventories are building. The world is producing more oil than is being consumed,” he said. (AP)
Fossil fuels to serve global needs for at least 50 years