This spending spree led the International Monetary Fund and other analysts to estimate the kingdom and other Gulf countries need oil to be selling between $80 and $85 a barrel in order for the governments to balance their budgets. This is up, in Saudi Arabia's case, from a mere $25 a barrel a few short years ago!
Unfortunately for oil consumers, this trend looks set to continue in years ahead. According to the Institute of International Finance, by 2015 the Saudi government will only be able to balance its budget if oil prices are at $115 a barrel if current spending trends remain in place.
So in effect, with the Arab Spring forcing governments to spend more on their citizens, it has put a floor under the price of oil. OPEC will do everything in its power to keep the price above the budget breakeven points for governments in the Gulf region.
This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.