Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz claimed last week that the Kingdom will be the world’s biggest hydrocarbon producer “even” in 2050.
“I can assure that Saudi Arabia will not only be the last producer, but Saudi Arabia will produce every molecule of hydrocarbon and it will put it to good use … It will be done in the most environmentally sound and safe way and the most sustainable way,” Abdulaziz said when asked about the oil market outlook in 2050 during a virtual conference convened by Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative Institute (FII-I).
Abdulaziz added that Saudi Arabia “will be the last and biggest producer of hydrocarbon even then,” referring to 2050.
But is Saudi Arabia’s the world’s leading hydrocarbon producer now? And what is its legitimate prospect for being the largest hydrocarbon producer in 2050?
To unpack what the prince is claiming, we first must understand the hydrocarbon classification. A hydrocarbon is an organic compound that contains only carbon and hydrogen. This encompasses petroleum, natural gas, and condensates.
Is Saudi Arabia the world’s largest hydrocarbon producer?
Saudi Arabia’s oil production in 2019, which includes crude oil, all other petroleum liquids, and biofuels–this would include natural gas plant liquids and condensate–was an average of 11.81 million bpd, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). At 12% of the world’s total, it’s no wonder why Saudi Arabia holds so much market sway, especially when in cahoots with the rest of the OPEC members.
Russia, too, is right up there, producing an average of 11.49 million bpd, or 11% of the world’s total. This is also no wonder, then, that when you put Russia and Saudi Arabia together to “stabilize” the world’s oil supply to balance it with demand, it creates a crude oil production powerhouse that is unmatched.
But individually speaking, Saudi Arabia is not king of the oil production hill, for its nemesis–the country that sought to undo every production quota OPEC could come up with, is the United States. On its own, the United States produced 19.51 million barrels of oil (and other petroleum liquids) per day, besting both Saudi Arabia and Russia, and controlling 19% of the world’s oil supplies.
The rest of the countries on their own are significantly further down the list, with not one of them producing more than half of third-place Russia. Still, Canada and China–#4 and #5 respectively–are still worth mentioning.
But Saudi Arabia expects to be the largest hydrocarbon producer “still” in 2050. If they are not so now, what are the chances they will be so thirty years from now?
Perhaps out of step with Saudi Arabia’s grand Vision 2030 plan, The Kingdom is still hoping to be top dog for petroleum production decades from now.
The EIA, in its Annual Energy Outlook 2020, has forecast that global production of crude oil and lease condensate, natural gas plant liquids, dry natural gas, and coal in the United States will reach 90.29…