The energy sector is the backbone of the Saudi economy. The Kingdom possesses a quarter of the world’s proven oil reserves, and is the world’s largest producer and exporter of oil.
Saudi Arabia is also developing its additional energy resources – natural gas that once flared off oil wells is collected and used, and the Kingdom has become a producer of refined oil products and petrochemicals such as kerosene, diesel oil and gasoline.
In addition, with the discovery of deposits of precious and semi-precious metals, Saudi Arabia expects to become a major exporter of minerals in the coming decades.
Saudi Arabia has taken steps to expand the energy sector and encourage greater investment, especially by foreign companies. In May 2000, the Supreme Council for Petroleum and Minerals (SCPM) – which oversees the maximization of natural resources – announced a decision to allow foreign investment in the gas sector and downstream industries.
Saudi Arabia continues to invest in the energy sector. In September 2006, the Kingdom announced plans for $70 billion in oil and gas programs over five years.