Saudi Aramco CEO believes oil shortage coming despite U.S. shale boom

The CEO of Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil company, said Monday a decline in exploration activity will lead to a global shortage, even as the oil market deals with a persistent oversupply.

The glut in crude oil has weighed on the market since 2014, when prices fell from their high of $108 a barrel. U.S. shale production has been largely responsible. And while OPEC has slowed its oil output this year in hopes of boosting prices, American producers have filled the void by bringing idled rigs back online.

Despite U.S. production records, Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser believes shale oil won’t be enough to prevent a future shortage, saying the industry downturn prevented companies from spending on new projects. He said the industry must pump 20 million barrels a day in new production over the next five years to meet rising demand.

“Investments in smaller increments such as shale oil will just not cut it,” Nasser said at the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Saudi Aramco, which is considering New York for a massive IPO in 2018, plans to invest $300 billion over the next 10 years to maintain its spare production capacity and “pursue a large exploration and production program” for natural gas, Nasser said.

Saudi Arabia’s output hit an all-time high of 10.5 million barrels per day in 2016, making it the largest producer in OPEC.

Saudi Aramco intends to list up to 5% of its shares next year, setting the stage for what could be the largest IPO in history.