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REPORTExcerpts from OAPEC’s third annual report on oil and alternative sources of energy. See "New Publications".


Status of Arab oil in the Light of Present and Future World Demand


Decreasing dependence on Arab oil was invariably one of the fundamental objectives of all energy programs announced in the industrialized countries, especially the U.S., after the events of 1973. Yet observing the oil imports of these countries in the last three years reveals more than one trend at work. For while the volume of the industrialized countries’ oil imports registered a drop in absolute terms in the years 1974 and 1975, as a consequence of the drop in demand for energy and oil, the percentage ratio of these countries’ imports from the Arab exporting countries rose in 1975, then rose again in 1976 along with the rise in the volume of imports above their old level. Imports of Arab oil by the OECD countries climbed from 53.6% of their total imports in 1974 to 58.2% in 1976. Increased imports of Arab oil underline the fact that the Arab countries have the largest oil reserves in the world, and that therefore they are in a stronger position to produce more supplies. After all, the Arab countries hold about half the world’s proven oil reserves, equivalent to triple the reserves of the non-Arab exporting countries.


The present trend in the OECD countries is to maintain a constant rate
of oil imports from the Arab countries. Those imports declined to 63.5% of total imports in 1975, then rose slightly to 63.8% in 1976. This indicates that, due to the growing production of the North Sea oil, the European countries are expected to maintain such rate, with possibly a slight increase.


Regarding Japan and the U.S., their imports of Arab oil are growing in ratio and volume. Imports of Arab oil by the U.S. rose from 21% of its total oil imports in 1974 to 46% in 1976. The increase in the percentage ratio of imports of Arab oil by the U.S. is expected to continue until 1985. Japan’s imports of Arab oil grew from 47.4% of its total oil imports in 1973 to 60.1% in 1976.


About half of the crude oil produced by the Arab states is presently consumed in Europe, but the shares of U.S. and Japan are rising rapidly. According to current trends, imports of Arab oil by the EEC, Japan and the U.S. are expected to equalize by 1985, with each of them

importing about 6 million b/d. In 1976, imports by the OECD were 6.5 million b/d, Japan 2.8 million b/d and the U.S. 2.4 million b/d.


Role of Arab Oil Reserves


The Arab countries hold 57% of the world’s proven oil reserves, excluding the Socialist countries, but consume no more than 3% of their production, equivalent to 1% of total world consumption. The non-Arab OPEC countries, which hold about 22% of world reserves produce 27% of total world production and consume 8% of their production, or about 2.5% of the total world consumption. On the other hand, the Arab countries account for 60% of OPEC’s total exports, that is, 50% of the world oil exports.


Having reserves which are 2.5 - 3 times larger than those of the non-Arab OPEC countries and a production volume which is 1.5 times greater, the Arab countries have the strongest potential for increased production to meet the world’s growing demand.


Comparing the reserves and production volume of the Arab and non-Arab OPEC countries will show that the life of the recoverable reserves of the Arab countries and the other OPEC countries will continue for 43 and 25 years, respectively.


Estimates by the OECD indicate that OPEC countries will be producing 33.5 million b/d by 1980 and about 39.3 million b/d by 1985, that is, an increase of 8.4 million b/d over their 1976 production level. According to projections by the Japanese Institute for Middle East Economics, production by the OPEC countries in 1985 will reach 41.1 million b/d, or an increase of 10.2 million b/d over the 1976 level.


Furthermore, recent projections issued by the OECD and the Japanese Institute for Middle East Economics indicate that local demand for oil in the OPEC countries will reach 4 million b/d by 1985, while exports are expected to rise to 35-37 million b/d. This means that the OPEC countries would produce 39-41 million b/d. The OPEC Arab countries, with the greatest potential for increasing production, would therefore be expected to meet most of the increase in demand by raising their exports from 18 million b/d in 1976 to an estimated 23.5-25.5 million b/d in 1985. Non-Arab OPEC exporters are expected to raise their production by 1-2 million b/d in 1985, over a production level of 12 million b/d in 1976.


The IEA believes that OPEC plans to produce 35 million b/d by 1985, although the demand by the industrialized world would then be 42-49 million b/d. A shortfall of 14 million b/d is therefore expected around 1985. In a report by the Petroleum Association of Japan, based on supply-demand projections made by major oil companies, the shortfall is estimated to be 7 million b/d since OPEC production would then be 39-42 million b/d.

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