Alarming But Not Hopeless

Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg on the staggering costs of domestic energy consumption in Saudi Arabia and the efforts of conservation:

Saudi Arabia has by far the highest per capita oil consumption in the world. It consumes about four million barrels a day or (1.5) billion barrels per year. This translates into (48) barrels a year for every man, woman and child. By comparison, the United States per capita consumption is about (9) barrels a year and Japan’s is (5) barrels. In other words, Saudi Arabia consumes oil, per capita, at a rate of over five times the US and nearly ten times as much as Japan.

The cost of this waste is staggering: At $ 100 a barrel, domestic consumption is depriving Saudi Arabia of nearly ($ 150) billion of foreign earnings. Opportunity cost is equivalent to 20 percent of its annual budget.

The situation is certainly alarming, but not hopeless. There is a lot that can be done, as most countries have since the 1970s, when the first price shocks changed the way we looked at oil scarcity. Major oil producing nations did not suffer those shocks, and did not have to go through the same stringent conservation requirements as oil importers did. That experience led to profligate energy usage among oil producers, which now realize how such waste is depriving them of resources they could put for better use.