Global Economy
US will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil producer in 2015
By Finfacts Team
Nov 12, 2013 - 3:42 PM

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The International Energy Agency (IEA), the Paris-based energy watchdog for 28 industrialised countries including Ireland, today warned that while technology and high prices are opening up new oil resources, this does not mean the world is on the verge of an era of oil abundance. Although rising oil output from North America and Brazil reduces the role of OPEC countries in quenching the world’s thirst for oil over the next decade, the Middle East - - the only large source of low-cost oil - - takes back its role as a key source of oil supply growth from the mid-2020s. The agency said the US will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil producer in 2015, up from a forecast date of 2017, made in 2012.

The 2013 edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO-2013) released in London, presents a central scenario in which global energy demand rises by one-third in the period to 2035. The shift in global energy demand to Asia gathers speed, but China moves towards a back seat in the 2020s as India and countries in Southeast Asia take the lead in driving consumption higher. The Middle East also moves to centre stage as an energy consumer, becoming the world’s second-largest gas consumer by 2020 and third-largest oil consumer by 2030, redefining its role in global energy markets. 

The IEA warns that Middle East producers are holding off on investment because of the threat of rising tight/ shale oil production. However, the agency says that while US oil output will cut the world’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil in the near term: and it forecasts that the US will displace Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer in 2015, it forecasts US light tight oil production, which includes shale, to peak in 2020 and fall thereafter, even as global demand continues to grow to 101m barrels a day by 2035, from around 90m b/d today.

Outside the US, light tight oil production is only forecast to contribute 1.5m b/d of supplies by 2035, as countries such as Russia and China make limited progress towards unlocking their shale reserves.

"Lower energy prices in the United States mean that it is well-placed to reap an economic advantage, while higher costs for energy-intensive industries in Europe and Japan are set to be a heavy burden,” Fatih Birol, IEA chief economist said .

To read the remarks of Maria van der Hoeven, the executive director, at the launch, please click ‌‌here‌. [pdf]

To see the presentation that accompanied the report's launch, please click here. [pdf]

To read the WEO-2013 executive summary, please click here. [pdf]

To see a fact sheet for WEO-2013, please click ‌here. [pdf]

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