- Demography. Populations in the Persian Gulf, and in OPEC as a whole, are growing fast. Tiny Qatar’s population trebled between 2000 and 2010. Saudi Arabia’s grew from around 20m to 27.4m, a 37% increase. Demand for power, water and petrol has risen accordingly.
- Economic structure. It takes energy to produce energy: pumps must be powered and vast quantities of seawater desalinated. Aramco, the Saudi state oil company, sucks up nearly 10% of the country’s energy output. Attempts to diversify the Saudi economy beyond oil, gas and petrochemicals have not gone far.
- Inefficiency of domestic energy markets. Some 65% of Saudi electricity is generated using black gold, even as successive price shocks and the relative inefficiency of oil generation have seen it all but phased out in rich countries. Oil is used with such profligacy because domestic consumption is massively subsidised. According to the International Energy Agency, global oil subsidies added up to $192 billion in 2010. OPEC countries accounted for $121 billion of the total.
Read full atricle: Keeping it to themselves; Gulf states not only pump oil; they burn it, too >>