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EIA: Riyadh going green to free up oil

Feb. 12, 2013 at 7:40 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia has one of the largest expansion plans for electricity in the Middle East, with the bulk of renewables coming from solar power, the EIA said.

The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration updated its profile for Saudi Arabia, saying population growth and a rapidly expanding industrial sector are leading to increased electricity demand in the oil-rich country.

Saudi Arabia aims to diversify its local energy mix in order to free up more of its oil for exports. The EIA says Saudi Arabia aims to generate as much as 55 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2020, with 41 GW planned for solar power.

Saudi Arabia remains the world leader in terms of crude oil reserves and is second behind Russia in terms of crude oil production.

"Saudi Arabia has been shifting its focus beyond increasing oil production capacity after state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco reached its target of 12 million barrels per day in 2009," the agency's assessment read.

Crude oil production from Saudi Arabia for December declined 4.9 percent to its lowest level in more than a year. Prices followed suit on economic concerns.

OPEC in its February report, released Tuesday, said oil demand in Saudi Arabia in December was flat. The country was one of the cartel members whose oil production declined for the period alongside Algeria, Libya, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates.

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