ENERGY SECURITY IN SAUDI ARABIA: CHALLENGES, THREATS AND SOLUTIONS
Energy security is a major concern for many countries, given worries over peak oil and recent spikes in oil and gas prices. This has been made worse by growing concerns over the environmental implications associated with the extensive use and reliance on hydrocarbons. Saudi Arabia is hugely dependent on the revenues from oil exports for its economic security. More immediately, Saudi Arabia is facing a rapid growth in domestic energy demand. If left unchecked, this could undermine Saudi Arabia’s ability to maintain oil exports at prevailing levels. As a result, there is an urgent need to investigate the issue of energy security in Saudi Arabia. In order to answer the research questions, data were collected by semi-structured interviews. These data were analysed using a thematic analysis. Findings suggest that Saudi Arabia experiences distinct aspects of the energy security problem. The country could be at extremely high risk in the future, because oil seems to be the valve for the country’s energy and economic security. Saudi Arabia considers that renewable energy and energy efficiency could be the best solutions for energy security concerns. This research project argues that there are important overlaps with these two areas. Moreover, the renewable energy sector in the country is in the early stages of development; and is lagging behind even other neighbouring Middle Eastern oil exporting-countries. This research, therefore, seeks to expand the available knowledge related to renewable energy barriers in an oil-dependent economy. It is apparent that in order to allow Saudi Arabia to maintain its position in the future as the largest oil exporter in the world, whilst improving its energy and economic security, the country requires major changes in its existing energy structure. Therefore, this research seeks to provide a clear understanding of the impact and role played by the government policy in the energy sector, cultural awareness about energy efficiency and renewable energy, and effective administration in the energy organisations in helping to ease energy security concerns in the Kingdom via a significant expansion in the capacity for renewable energy generation.