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Saudis hit 'panic button' at $40 oil: Energy CEO

Saudi Arabia has insisted that OPEC will keep oil production at 30 million barrels per day no matter the cost of crude, but even the world's biggest oil exporter has a limit, the CEO of Breitling Energy told CNBC on Friday.

"I think the panic button is at $40," Chris Faulkner said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "They can say whatever they want, but at the end of the day, they can't just bleed out money forever."

With the Saudis' deficit for 2015 projected to reach $50 billion—the official figure is $39 billion—the country's leaders will face challenges in maintaining its subsidies, he said. Young people will not stand for planned wage cuts, either, he added.

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That said, Faulkner expects oil prices to rebound to the low $70s by the end of 2015, after initially sliding further into the low $50s and possibly recovering in the second quarter.

With oil prices at current levels, Venezuela will likely default on its debt payments due in March and October, Faulkner said.

Brent crude for February delivery traded below $61 in morning trade on Friday.

Faulkner sees natural gas remaining below $5 until 2020, as the supply and demand fundamentals are unlikely to change significantly.

Read More Just beginning of nat gas decline, could hit $2.50: Pro

Natural gas dipped below $3 on Friday for the first time since Sept. 24, 2012.