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Thursday, February 18, 2010     GET REAL

Saudis brace for decline in worldwide oil demand

ABU DHABI -- Saudi Arabia has been preparing for the prospect of a peak in global oil demand.   

Officials said Riyad has been discussing options ahead of forecasts that demand for crude oil would peak over the next decade, a development expected to harm the kingdom's energy industry.

They said the Saudi government has been drafting options, mostly in the area of industrial diversification.

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"This is an alarm that we need to take more seriously," Saudi negotiator Mohammed Al Sabban said.

In an address on Feb. 15 to the Jedda Economic Forum, Sabban, who represents Saudi Arabia in global climate talks, said Riyad was working to diversify into alternative energy sources, particularly solar power.

He warned that a long-term decline in world oil demand would harm the Gulf Cooperation Council state.

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