Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producer in the Middle East, but also the region’s largest oil consumer. With considerable demand stemming from its population’s consumption of subsidized electricity and desalinated water, the government is seeking to reform the sector in order to free up oil for export markets.

Riyadh has had considerable success in these endeavors over the past five years, and a newfound focus on renewable energy ought to generate further gains in the coming years (MEES, 10 April). However, last year saw a small reversal of this trend as the volumes of oil burned for domestic utilities edged up by 3% according to the latest government figures. Gas burn meanwhile rose by just 1% according to state regulator ECRA. (CONTINUED - 691 WORDS)