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Is Saudi Arabia Exaggerating Its Oil Production Potential?

Is Saudi Arabia Exaggerating Its Oil Production Potential?

  • For years, Saudi Arabia has made some pretty hefty claims about its oil potential.
  • It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that the Kingdom may be stretching the truth a little too far.
  • Analysts are now beginning to doubt that Saudi Arabia even has the reserves it says it has.

For many years now, Saudi Arabia has been wildly exaggerating every metric connected to its oil business, from how much crude it can produce to its level of reserves and everything in between, as analyzed in depth in my first book on the oil sector in 2015 and the latest one in 2021. Why does it lie so much and so often about these figures? Because without the power it has in the world directly associated with its crude oil production, spare capacity, and reserves it has no real power at all, so enormously exaggerating each of these figures is geared towards puffing itself up in terms of its geopolitical importance. The problem Saudi Arabia has right now, however, is that the U.S. and all other developed market countries whose economies are suffering under the weight of ongoing high oil prices are pressuring Riyadh to deliver on these claims, in order to bring these oil prices down. If Saudi Arabia had not been lying all these years about the amount of oil it can produce then it will not have a problem, but it has been, so it does.

To the figures themselves, then, and firstly, Saudi Arabia’s crude oil reserves figures. At the beginning of 1989, Saudi Arabia claimed proven oil reserves of 170 billion barrels, but only a year later, and without the discovery of any major new oil fields, the official reserves estimate had somehow increased by 51.2 percent, to 257 billion barrels…

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