The CEO of Saudi Aramco, the national oil company of Saudi Arabia, lashed out at the Obama administration Thursday, lamenting the oversupply of "rhetoric" from major oil-consuming nations regarding energy independence. Without naming the U.S. president directly, Khalid Al Falih couldn't have been clearer who he was referring to. He called pervasive talk from nations that want to wean themselves from an addiction to foreign oil, a common trope in U.S. environmental circles, "unachievable and misleading to the public."
Al Falih anchored an extraordinary collection of representatives of major oil producers at a morning session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Chaired by consultant and prizewinning author Daniel Yergin, the panel provided a heavy dose of reality into a debate often dominated in Western media and policy circles by a hopeful yearning for alternative energy.
BP's Hayward also gave an update on his company's efforts in Iraq, where it is in the process of redeveloping an oil field BP discovered in 1953. The field is producing 1 million barrels of oil per day now, he said. BP intends for its investments in the field to boost production to 3 million barrels by 2020. Overall, Hayward predicted Iraq will be producing 10 million barrels a day in 10 years. That would be a five-fold increase and a gigantic accomplishment.
The star of the show by far was Aramco's Al Falih. He believes the "peak oil" debate is dead, though it caused damage in the form of price increases and volatility. He said Saudi Arabia has 4 million barrels per day of idle oil capacity at the moment and that the country continued to invest in its fields through the recession, adding 2 million barrels of capacity last year despite the global decline in demand. His beef is that though Saudi Arabia continues to invest in production, "we don't see reciprocal assurances from customers, by which I mean policymakers, to signal to us a long-term commitment."
There was no discord on this panel of the global oil elite. With no time for Q&A, if anyone sympathetic to the Obama administration's energy policy was in the room, they had no opportunity for rebuttal.
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