Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi, in an address to the World Petroleum Congress in Shanghai today, predicted that by 2020 the demand for oil in Asia is likely be in the range of 30 to 35 million barrels per day (bpd), corresponding to about 35 percent of consumption worldwide. Saudi Arabia, he said, possesses 70 percent of the world's excess production capacity, and is well situated to meet Asia's demands. Over the past decade, in fact, the Kingdom's petroleum exports to Asia have grown from 1 million to 4 million bpd, currently furnishing 20 percent of Asia's oil needs.
Referring specifically to Saudi Arabia's ties with the People's Republic of China, Minister Al-Naimi noted the enormous progress that has been made in all aspects, with bilateral trade doubling, and significant increase in investment. Highlighting the growth of the Saudi oil industry over the past 60 years, he pointed out that the last three years have witnessed major diversification and internationalization of the nation's petroleum industry. During the 1970s, he said, the Kingdom constructed an integrated gas system to utilize its tremendous gas reserves, and in the 1990s, expanded its domestic refining capacity, establishing a network of pipelines that enabled it to export from both the Gulf and the Red Sea. This year, he went on to say, the Kingdom has assigned three core areas to three different consortiums involving major international oil and gas companies, adding: "I am very optimistic about the future, not only the future of Saudi Arabia, but also the future of China and of Asia - and about the interdependent and growing relationship between the different regions of our great continent."
Referring to the current situation of the oil market, Minister Al-Naimi pointed out that it has remained remarkably stable throughout 2001, declaring: "We in Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with other OPEC producers, are committed to a stable oil market. We will make up any shortfall in supplies wherever it happens and for whatever reason."