Surrounded by revolt, the Saudi king returned home bearing gifts in the form of a 37 billion dollar "peace handout." Coming on the heels of the WikiLinks revelation that Saudi oil reserves may be greatly exaggerated, it's not good news that funds will be directed toward keeping the population content rather than producing more oil. Also, as the Federal Reserve discovered one shot of gift giving may not suffice. Given the violent backdrop of the weekend attack on a major Iraqi refinery, it's possible that PH2 (peace hand-out 2) may be necessary. With the ability to raise exports in question, the funds available are not limitless.
Jeffrey Brown and Sam Foucher have revealed thatSaudi exports have not increased since 2005 despite rising oil prices. As domestic oil consumption eats into exports, Saudi leaders are planning major investments in solar electric generation plants and even improved housing insulation. Do the Saudis have enough financial resources to supply the world adequate amounts of oil, pay off the population from revolting, and invest in renewable energy? The answer may be yes, if the country does possess the often reported spare capacity of 5-8 million barrels per day. However, because the Saudis have never allowed an external audit of their oil fields, the world which relies on oil for economic growth can only continue to hope that production will increase in a new world of peace handouts amid Middle East revolts.
With oil production increases in question and surrounded by revolts that necessitate placating its population with valuable funds, the Saudis are in a predicament. An investor can take advantage of this weakness by investing in a basket of long-lived Canadian energy companies such as COSWF, SU, CNQ, and CVE. Canada is a friendly neighbor with a stable government that collects taxes from its citizens rather than hand-out peace dividends. If you believe that the Saudis can deliver on its promise to cover any shortfalls from Libya, then short oil futures. Otherwise look north to the only supply safe from hurricanes, terrorism, and the challenges of drilling miles under the sea.
Disclosure: I am long CNQ, CVE, SU.
Additional disclosure: I am also long Canadian Oil Sands but believe it is not in your system. Thank you.