Saudi Arabia hits out at IEA forecasts

Sep 19, 2023, 7:43am EDT
Chloé Farand/

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, hit out at the International Energy Agency, accusing it of moving “from being a forecaster” to “creating political advocacy,” after the Paris-based body criticized the OPEC+ grouping for oil supply cuts.

Major oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, disagree with the IEA on more than its short-term oil demand forecast. Last week, the agency’s head Fatih Birol said fossil fuel demand is on course to peak before 2030.1 OPEC rejected the projections, decrying them as not fact-based and “dangerous” because of the risk it could stifle new oil and gas investments.2 Saudi Aramco and ExxonMobil have pushed back against the peak oil forecast, as well.3

The IEA used to draw the ire of clean-energy producers and companies involved in the energy transition for what were seen as dour projections on trends such as the takeup of electric vehicles.4 But the agency has latterly been championed by them, thanks in large part to a 2021 call for new investments in extraction of oil, gas, and coal to stop immediately for the world to meet its 2050 climate targets.5

Rising oil prices have increased pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden, who has vowed to cut prices at the pump before next year’s election.6 High gasoline prices will be unpopular in parts of the country where voters are dependent on long driving times to go to work. Studies show they are more likely to hold the president directly accountable for the hike.7