Strong Confidence in the Future of Energy

  • 31 October 2013

The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research yesterday concluded its two-day 19th Annual Energy Conference titled – Unconventional Fossil Fuels: The Next Hydrocarbon Revolution? The conference was held under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and President of the ECSSR. Eminent dignitaries and experts from the UAE, the Arab region and the world participated at the conference, debating the challenges posed by unconventional fuels. The abundance of shale oil and gas and its relatively attractive economic viability suggests that it could be seen as an alternative to conventional oil and gas, some experts argued. The Conference served as a global platform for discussing a highly sensitive issue related to energy and the geopolitical transformations taking place in its wake.

The discussions highlighted a number of significant points. First, in spite of all the clamor about the US increasing productive capacities of shale oil and gas, the preeminence of conventional oil and energy markets remains in place, given the largely negative impact of the unconventional resources of shale oil production on the environment due to wasteful emissions and pollutants caused by the process of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ to extract oil and gas out of these rocks.

Second: The US is not the only country to possess large deposits of shale rocks. Huge deposits have been found in China as well, which in fact has larger deposits than the US. Other nations could follow suit and GCC nations may play a leading role in the future.

Third: With recent rise in production of unconventional fossil fuels in the US, there has been an exponential increase in the production of natural gas that has severely affected international gas markets, but shale oil has made little impact on international oil markets.

Fourth: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations have remained central to international oil and energy markets for decades and will continue do so in the future, given GCC policies to diversify their energy sources. This point was stressed by the Director General of ECSSR, His Excellency Dr. Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi, who in his closing remarks stated that the Conference “reinforced our self-confidence and the confidence in the prospects of our pioneering march”.