Saudi Arabia’s Domestic Oil Demand Rises 4% in 2011, JODI Says

Saudi Arabia’s domestic consumption of crude oil rose 4 percent in 2011 from a year earlier, data the government submitted to the Joint Organization Data Initiative showed.

The world’s largest crude exporter used 661.2 million barrels of oil last year, compared with 636.4 million barrels in 2010, according to data posted on the initiative’s website on Feb. 19. That’s about a fifth of its total output of 3.39 billion barrels last year.

Saudi Arabia faces rising demand for crude as its population grows and its gross domestic product expands. The country, which is aiming to double its generation capacity in the next decade, generates about half its electricity from oil, Fouad Jwayed Alsherebi, Saudi Electricity Co.’s executive vice president of generation said on Feb. 7.

“The domestic growth drivers are strong, underpinned by robust GDP growth, the current pricing structure, and the lack of alternatives,” Jarmo Kotilaine, chief economist at Jeddah-based National Commercial Bank, the country’s largest lender by assets, said yesterday in an e-mail.

Crude consumption is rising even as production of natural gas rises. Saudi Arabian Oil Co.’s offshore Karan gas field, which started output last year, offers some relief to the use of crude in power production, Kotilaine said.

The state-owned producer plans to start output at the Hasbah and Arabia fields in 2014, Chief Executive Officer Khalid al-Falih said on Jan. 14 in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

“Most of the new gas is still at the planning and development stage and will not fundamentally change the picture,” Kotilaine said.

Saudi Arabia holds the world’s fifth-largest gas deposits and increased its output of the fuel by 7 percent to 83.9 billion cubic meters in 2010, according to BP Plc’s Statistical Review of World Energy.

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