A flame from a Saudi Aramco oil installation in the desert, 160 kms east of the Saudi capital Riyadh. Photo: AFP/Marwan Naamani

Global demand for oil is forecasted to “flatten” in the 2030s, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) released on Wednesday.

It further predicts US shale will increasingly dim the influence of OPEC and overtake Russia, challenging the ability of OPEC+ to manage global exports.

The IEA’s The World Energy Outlook 2019 sees energy demand as rising by 1% per year through 2040.

However, it will be low-carbon sources, led by solar photovoltaics used to generate electric power, that supply more than half of this growth.

Natural gas, the report says, will account for another third of that growth, with Liquified Natural Gas trade on the rise.

Oil demand, in contrast, “flattens out in the 2030s.” Coal use falls even lower.

With global C02 emissions a pressing concern as countries seeking to align with Paris Agreement goals, key nations with “net-zero” – or carbon-neutral policies – will help reshape the way energy is supplied and consumed.

Aramco IPO

The forecasts raise fresh doubts as to whether Saudi Aramco can or should seek to be listed on an international stock exchange, given the projections over its key product.

“The attacks in Saudi Arabia in September 2019 underlined that traditional energy security risks have not gone away,” the report said, in language that appeared to gloss over the unprecedented nature of that event.

The precision attacks against Aramco facilities succeeded in knocking half the kingdom’s production offline last month, driving home the lengths to which Iran would go to hit back against the crippling of its oil sector – and offering a wake-up call to any potential investor.

With Saudi Arabia’s crown prince still set on an international IPO, the kingdom is now reportedly pressuring local investors to go in big on a Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) listing in December – a pep rally of sorts.

Due to its size, Aramco will dominate the Tadawul, leaving Saudi investors exposed to dips in the oil price, Iranian attacks and other global trends outlined in the IEA report.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has long expressed his desire for a US$2 trillion valuation of Aramco. Its fair value, analysts believe, could be as low as $1.2 trillion.

“The deal will be seen as a litmus test for MBS’s reform program,” a Gulf-based economist told Asia Times last week.

“The challenge is setting a credible share price ensuring it doesn’t lead to market volatility in the future which could potentially leave millions of Saudis out of pocket.”

OPEC is set to meet on December 5.

Read more: Average Saudis to bear brunt if Aramco overvalued

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