WASHINGTON - Saudi Arabia says it will continue to maintain its role as the world's largest oil exporter, even as it looks to develop other energy sources in the face of falling global oil prices.
New energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, said Saudi Arabia will maintain its stable petroleum policies and maintain its role in international energy markets as "the world's most reliable supplier of energy."
He said Saudi Arabia is "committed to meeting existing and additional hydrocarbons demand" with its "maximum sustainable capacity."
Reshaping the economy
In a government shake-up Saturday, Falih, the chief executive of the state-owned Saudi Aramco oil giant, was named head of a new Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources in an effort to reshape the kingdom's oil-dependent economy. He replaces long-time oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, who was fired from the position he held since 1995.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries says that Saudi Arabia exports more than seven million barrels of oil daily and has 18 percent of the world's proven petroleum reserves.
But its oil and gas revenues, which account for half of Saudi Arabia's economy and 85 percent of its export earnings, have been flagging because of declining world oil prices caused by the glut of oil on the global market.
Saudi Arabia has been responsible for some of the excess crude oil on the world market, refusing to cut its production even as the United States has produced more of the oil it needs through use of fracking technology to tap underground oil deposits that previously were unreachable.
With declining oil revenues since mid-2014, Saudi Arabia had a $100 billion budget deficit last year and projects another $87 billion shortfall for 2016.