Natural resources, energy and environment
About one-sixth of the world's known oil
resources are found in Saudi Arabia. The country is for
the most part the world's largest oil exporter and the
mainly state-owned Saudi Aramco is the world's largest
oil company in terms of production. Saudi Arabia also
has natural gas assets, although the extraction is
The first commercially profitable oil deposit in
Saudi Arabia was found in 1938 by the American
Arab-American Oil Company (Aramco). Within a few years,
more oil fields were found. In the 1960s and 1970s,
extraction increased dramatically. At the same time, oil
prices rose rapidly with a peak in 1973.
Major exports by Saudi Arabia with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
In connection with the Arab states 'war on Israel the
same year, Saudi Arabia agreed to use the oil as a
weapon within the framework of the organization of the
oil-producing countries' Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries. Opec reduced its production and
catered deliveries to mainly the US. In the same vein,
the government took over 25 percent of Aramco.
However, the oil embargo was lifted the following
year. Subsequently, Saudi Arabia tried to keep prices
down by compensating for market losses by increasing its
own production. With its large oil reserves, Saudi
Arabia has an interest in long-term keeping oil prices
at a relatively stable level. The state became the owner
of the entire Aramco in 1980, and foreign companies were
not admitted as owners in the oil industry, but a
partial privatization of the company took place in 2019.
Saudi Aramco, which the company is now called, is one of
the world's largest companies and owns around 100 oil
and the gas fields in the country. Over half of the
assets are in eight huge fields. Most of the oil sources
are in the eastern parts of the country. The Ghawar and
Safaniyya oil fields are the world's largest on land and
Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, SA stands for Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi oil reserves are not only large, the oil is
also easy to access, especially compared to the
extraction at great sea depths that many other large
energy companies carry out. The oil is exported by
tankers from terminals at the Gulf of Persia and the Red
Sea, where an approximately 120 km long pipeline runs
across the Arabian Peninsula. There are nine oil
refineries in the country.
Saudi Arabia has steadily been the world's largest
exporter of oil, but in 2019 it was reported that US
exports have surpassed both Saudi and Russian, at least
temporarily. The extraction of shale oil in the USA has
been greatly expanded. In 2020, Saudi Arabia started a
price war, and oil prices fell to levels that at least
the slate companies in the US and Canada are hard to
cope with, since their oil recovery takes place at a
higher cost than Saudi Arabia and Russia. The background
to the price war was that China's demand for oil
diminished as the economy shut down to limit the spread
of coronavirus. Saudi Arabia then lowered prices to
increase its global market share.
However, several events have shown that even Saudi
Arabia's production can be sensitive to disruptions. In
2012, Aramco was exposed to malicious data code, and in
2019 two of Saudi Arabia's largest facilities were
attacked with drones from the air.
More than half of the natural gas deposits are
adjacent to the oil. The gas is not exported but is used
in the country in the petrochemical industry and to
Saudi Arabia also has assets of gold, iron ore,
copper, phosphate, silver, uranium, bauxite, coal,
tungsten, lead, zinc, limestone, marble, salt and more.
The extraction of these minerals was long overdue but
has become increasingly important.
Electricity is produced in power plants which are
mostly fired with gas. Electricity consumption is
increasing rapidly. Plans are underway to build 16
nuclear power plants that will be put into operation
during the 2020s; The International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) has called on Saudi Arabia to sign agreements to
guarantee that radioactive material is used solely for
peaceful contexts. The sharp fall in oil prices from
2014 accelerated investments in renewable energy
sources, and planning is underway for large wind and
solar projects in the north.
Much of the electricity is needed in connection with
seawater desalination. Saudi Arabia lacks largely
ordinary waterways and suffers from a lack of fresh
water. The country has therefore become a world leader
in desalination, there are today some 30 plants that
produce more than half of the fresh water consumed. More
than 400 km of pipelines have been built to transport
desalinated water to the hinterland. Water also comes
with tank trucks.
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
6,913 kilos of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
9411 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
601 047 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
19.5 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
0.0 percent (2015)
Penalty for morality crime
A man is sentenced to five years in prison and 1,000
lashes for reporting his sex life on TV.
Prince survives attack on Interior Ministry
Prince Mohammad bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, responsible
for countering terrorism in the country, survives a
suicide attack carried out inside the Interior Ministry.
Prince Mohammed is the son of Nayef Interior Minister
(see March 2009).
Judgments against terrorists
A man is sentenced to death for conspiring with
al-Qaeda. According to official data, an unspecified
number of people are sentenced to prison simultaneously,
including for terrorist offenses. A total of 330
judgments should have been served.
Changes in the order of faith
The Minister of the Interior, Prince Nayef bin Abd
al-Aziz, is appointed second Deputy Prime Minister and
is thus thought to be the next Crown Prince. Nayef is
the brother of Crown Prince Sultan.
First female minister
King Abdullah replaces several reform opponents in
his government and a woman gets a ministerial post for
the first time. Norah al-Fayez becomes Deputy Minister
responsible for women's education.
A new Islamist group is formed
A new group called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
(Aqap) is formed, when members of the terrorist group in
Saudi Arabia and Yemen decide to do the same thing.