Saudi Oil Min Says U.S. Shale Oil Helps Keep Oil Markets Stable

Shale oil remains much more costly to produce than most Middle East crude.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia welcomes the surge in U.S. shale oil production for its stabilizing effect on crude prices, Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi was quoted as saying on Sunday after a meeting with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said in its annual World Oil Outlook published in November that the group faced a shrivelling market share over the next five years, with the shale energy boom set to boost rival supplies.

But shale oil remains much more costly to produce than most Middle East crude and Saudi oil officials say they have nothing to fear from the rival crude revolution.

“Shale oil has been also discussed and the rise in production from the United States and other countries,” Naimi was quoted by Saudi state news agency SPA as saying after their meeting in Riyadh.

“The kingdom welcomes this new source of energy supplies that contribute to meeting rising global energy demand and also contribute to the stability of the oil markets.”

The North American shale oil surge has dampened oil price volatility and helped keep benchmark Brent crude trading in a $100-110 per barrel range – prices that Saudi officials say they are comfortable with – for much of the last 12 months.

Oil company BP said last week that the North American shale oil boom could spread around the globe over the next two decades, putting pressure on oil export dependent countries like Saudi Arabia.