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A combination of factors is encouraging Saudi Arabia to consider raising crude oil production capacity beyond the current ceiling of 12.5 million barrels per day. The kingdom has managed to maintain a constant share of global crude oil markets, even as it copes with growing domestic demand for oil and a spate of investments in refineries, inside and outside the kingdom. Longer term, the threat of peak global oil demand – perhaps in response to climate change – enhances the attractions of a shorter time horizon to depletion. However, an increase in Saudi crude oil production would have consequences for markets and competing forms of energy, as well as for the kingdom's geopolitical stature. The wide range of potential outcomes suggests that a major capacity increase is a risky strategy.
Published in Energy Policy.