Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

Move from fossil fuels and promote renewables, says Iraq

Iraq, the planet’s sixth-largest oil producer, urges the world to move from fossil fuels and focus on renewable energy.

LONDON, 7 September, 2021 − The deputy prime minister of Iraq and the executive director of the International Energy Agency are urging the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Opec, to move from fossil fuels and shift into renewable energy.

The “unprecedented” opinion piece  in The Guardian appeared ahead of a major meeting of the decades-old oil cartel earlier this week, reports Guardian reporter Fiona Harvey.

“To stand a chance of limiting the worst effects of climate change, the world needs to fundamentally change the way it produces and consumes energy, burning less coal, oil, and natural gas,” write Ali Allawi, who is also Iraq’s finance minister, and the IEA’s Fatih Birol.

“If oil revenues start to decline before producer countries have successfully diversified their economies, livelihoods will be lost and poverty rates will increase.”

Moreover, “in a region “with one of the youngest and fastest-growing populations in the world, economic hardship and increasing unemployment risk creating broader unrest and instability,” they add.

Rising production planned?

The Guardian says the OPEC meeting on 3 September was also expected to discuss climate change an unusual topic for a gathering usually devoted to managing the world price of oil ahead of this year’s United Nations climate conference, COP 26, in Glasgow.

The top-line news from the meeting was that Opec will stick with plans for a gradual increase in oil production, while increasing its estimate of 2022 oil demand, Reuters reports.

In their article, Allawi and Birol cite the IEA’s landmark net-zero roadmap, published in May, which called for a 75% reduction in global oil output and 55% cut in natural gas production by 2050.

“Beyond projects already committed as of 2021, there are no new oil and gas fields approved for development in our pathway, and no new coal mines or mine extensions are required,” the IEA concluded.

“The unwavering policy focus on climate change in the net-zero pathway results in a sharp decline in fossil fuel demand, meaning that the focus for oil and gas producers switches entirely to output and emissions reductions from the operation of existing assets.”

“There are promising initiatives, but reaching net-zero emissions will require much stronger actions and much greater international collaboration”

The two authors add that oil-producing regions are already bearing the brunt of the global crisis their product has been so instrumental in creating and accelerating.

“In the Middle East and North Africa, global warming is not a distant threat, but an already painful reality,” they write. “Rising temperatures are exacerbating water shortages. In Iraq, temperatures are estimated to be rising as much as seven times faster than the global average.”

But “countries in this region are not only uniquely affected by global temperature rises: their centrality to global oil and gas markets makes their economies particularly vulnerable to the transition away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner energy sources,” they add. So “it’s essential the voices of Iraq and similar countries are heard” at COP 26.

‘Every last molecule’

In the past, Middle East oil producers have indeed been heard at UN climate meetings, usually arguing to delay action on the climate emergency or suppress the scientific consensus on climate action. (Although Iraq is not a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the regional body that often speaks for Middle East oil producers at the COP.)

After the IEA released its report in May, Saudi oil minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman famously described the agency’s conclusions as “La La Land”, later vowing his country will extract every last molecule of oil in its possession. While “Saudi ministers have flirted with climate action,” The Guardian’s Harvey writes, “none have seriously suggested a policy to cease oil exports.”

But “some oil producers have taken a more dovish stance. Oman, which is no longer an OPEC member, is pursuing hydrogen as a potential low-carbon fuel for the future. [The United Arab Emirates] is also working on hydrogen, and boosting renewables, and recently inaugurated a new nuclear plant. Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan are among other countries in the region with sizeable renewable energy programs.”

Now Iraq is taking a different tack, as well. After seeing its poverty rates double in 2020 not due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but primarily because of crashing oil income Iraq “cannot allow the livelihoods of millions of families to continue to be dictated by the vagaries of an unpredictable oil market,” Allawi and Birol write.

“Redressing this will require policies and investments that enable oil and gas-producing countries such as Iraq to channel capital and labour into productive industries for the future and stimulate the private sector.”

Bettered by Germany

Iraq is already laying plans to reduce its dependence on hydrocarbon exports and refocus on “environmentally sound policies and technologies,” they add, and “the energy sector could play a role here by making use of the region’s vast potential for producing and supplying clean energy.”

In a remarkable pitch for a clean energy transition, Allawi and Birol lay out a menu of options for Iraq to pursue beginning with curbs on gas flaring in a fossil industry that accounts for 40% of its emissions, then extending to energy efficiency and renewables with “tremendous economic benefits” as a consequence.

“The worst potential solar sites in Iraq get up to 60% more direct energy from the sun than the best sites in Germany,” they write. “And yet the solar plants that Germany has built to date together offer two and a half times the electricity capacity of all Iraq’s operational oil, gas, and hydropower plants combined.”

“More than at any point in history, fundamental changes to the economic model in resource-rich countries look unavoidable,” Birol told Harvey. “Countries in the region have been making some efforts on the energy transition.

But any move from fossil fuels may be some time in coming. “There are promising initiatives [among oil producers], but as is the case for many other countries around the world, reaching net-zero emissions will require much stronger actions and much greater international collaboration,” said Birol. − Climate News Network

* * * * * * *

This report first appeared on the site of our Canadian partners The Energy Mix on 1 September and is republished here by courtesy of them.

Iraq, the planet’s sixth-largest oil producer, urges the world to move from fossil fuels and focus on renewable energy.

LONDON, 7 September, 2021 − The deputy prime minister of Iraq and the executive director of the International Energy Agency are urging the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Opec, to move from fossil fuels and shift into renewable energy.

The “unprecedented” opinion piece  in The Guardian appeared ahead of a major meeting of the decades-old oil cartel earlier this week, reports Guardian reporter Fiona Harvey.

“To stand a chance of limiting the worst effects of climate change, the world needs to fundamentally change the way it produces and consumes energy, burning less coal, oil, and natural gas,” write Ali Allawi, who is also Iraq’s finance minister, and the IEA’s Fatih Birol.

“If oil revenues start to decline before producer countries have successfully diversified their economies, livelihoods will be lost and poverty rates will increase.”

Moreover, “in a region “with one of the youngest and fastest-growing populations in the world, economic hardship and increasing unemployment risk creating broader unrest and instability,” they add.

Rising production planned?

The Guardian says the OPEC meeting on 3 September was also expected to discuss climate change an unusual topic for a gathering usually devoted to managing the world price of oil ahead of this year’s United Nations climate conference, COP 26, in Glasgow.

The top-line news from the meeting was that Opec will stick with plans for a gradual increase in oil production, while increasing its estimate of 2022 oil demand, Reuters reports.

In their article, Allawi and Birol cite the IEA’s landmark net-zero roadmap, published in May, which called for a 75% reduction in global oil output and 55% cut in natural gas production by 2050.

“Beyond projects already committed as of 2021, there are no new oil and gas fields approved for development in our pathway, and no new coal mines or mine extensions are required,” the IEA concluded.

“The unwavering policy focus on climate change in the net-zero pathway results in a sharp decline in fossil fuel demand, meaning that the focus for oil and gas producers switches entirely to output and emissions reductions from the operation of existing assets.”

“There are promising initiatives, but reaching net-zero emissions will require much stronger actions and much greater international collaboration”

The two authors add that oil-producing regions are already bearing the brunt of the global crisis their product has been so instrumental in creating and accelerating.

“In the Middle East and North Africa, global warming is not a distant threat, but an already painful reality,” they write. “Rising temperatures are exacerbating water shortages. In Iraq, temperatures are estimated to be rising as much as seven times faster than the global average.”

But “countries in this region are not only uniquely affected by global temperature rises: their centrality to global oil and gas markets makes their economies particularly vulnerable to the transition away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner energy sources,” they add. So “it’s essential the voices of Iraq and similar countries are heard” at COP 26.

‘Every last molecule’

In the past, Middle East oil producers have indeed been heard at UN climate meetings, usually arguing to delay action on the climate emergency or suppress the scientific consensus on climate action. (Although Iraq is not a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the regional body that often speaks for Middle East oil producers at the COP.)

After the IEA released its report in May, Saudi oil minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman famously described the agency’s conclusions as “La La Land”, later vowing his country will extract every last molecule of oil in its possession. While “Saudi ministers have flirted with climate action,” The Guardian’s Harvey writes, “none have seriously suggested a policy to cease oil exports.”

But “some oil producers have taken a more dovish stance. Oman, which is no longer an OPEC member, is pursuing hydrogen as a potential low-carbon fuel for the future. [The United Arab Emirates] is also working on hydrogen, and boosting renewables, and recently inaugurated a new nuclear plant. Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan are among other countries in the region with sizeable renewable energy programs.”

Now Iraq is taking a different tack, as well. After seeing its poverty rates double in 2020 not due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but primarily because of crashing oil income Iraq “cannot allow the livelihoods of millions of families to continue to be dictated by the vagaries of an unpredictable oil market,” Allawi and Birol write.

“Redressing this will require policies and investments that enable oil and gas-producing countries such as Iraq to channel capital and labour into productive industries for the future and stimulate the private sector.”

Bettered by Germany

Iraq is already laying plans to reduce its dependence on hydrocarbon exports and refocus on “environmentally sound policies and technologies,” they add, and “the energy sector could play a role here by making use of the region’s vast potential for producing and supplying clean energy.”

In a remarkable pitch for a clean energy transition, Allawi and Birol lay out a menu of options for Iraq to pursue beginning with curbs on gas flaring in a fossil industry that accounts for 40% of its emissions, then extending to energy efficiency and renewables with “tremendous economic benefits” as a consequence.

“The worst potential solar sites in Iraq get up to 60% more direct energy from the sun than the best sites in Germany,” they write. “And yet the solar plants that Germany has built to date together offer two and a half times the electricity capacity of all Iraq’s operational oil, gas, and hydropower plants combined.”

“More than at any point in history, fundamental changes to the economic model in resource-rich countries look unavoidable,” Birol told Harvey. “Countries in the region have been making some efforts on the energy transition.

But any move from fossil fuels may be some time in coming. “There are promising initiatives [among oil producers], but as is the case for many other countries around the world, reaching net-zero emissions will require much stronger actions and much greater international collaboration,” said Birol. − Climate News Network

* * * * * * *

This report first appeared on the site of our Canadian partners The Energy Mix on 1 September and is republished here by courtesy of them.

Fossil fuels: Heading down, but not yet out

Renewable energy is making rapid inroads into the market, but fossil fuels still wield enormous global influence.

LONDON, 20 May, 2020 – At a casual glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that fossil fuels are here to stay for a long time yet, although not everything on the horizon is rosy.

The world, admittedly, is awash with surplus oil. The use of coal is in sharp decline. The price of gas – in recent years the fuel of choice for an increasing number of power plants around the globe – is falling.

The fossil fuel industry – the main driver behind the growing climate crisis – is undoubtedly going through one of its worst times in decades.

The Covid 19 pandemic has resulted in a severe downturn in the global economy and a sharp drop in demand for energy.

But the fossil fuel industry’s problems, many of them of its own making, were evident well before Covid swept the globe.

At the centre of the sector’s difficulties is over-production, particularly of oil.

Shale tips the scales

In 2010 world crude oil production was running at about 86 million barrels per day (MBPD). This year production is forecast to top 100 MBPD.

Though oil consumption has grown as the global economy has expanded over recent years, production has exceeded demand as utilities and industries, particularly in Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, have become ever more efficient in the way they produce energy.

The big change in the oil market over the past decade has been the rise in US production, brought about by the boom in the shale oil and gas industry.

In 2010 the US was producing just over 5 MBPD. Earlier this year, production was running at more than 13 MBPD. Once a net importer of crude, the US is now the world’s biggest producer – ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The days when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) could more or less determine the global oil price by tweaking production levels have long gone: neither the US nor Russia is an OPEC member.

The big producers have argued amongst themselves and have not been able to agree on output levels. Oil prices have fluctuated wildly: in recent weeks they reached an historic low.

“Renewable energy is a cost-effective source of new power that insulates power markets and consumers from volatility”

In the US many shale oil operators who borrowed heavily to fund their operations are threatened with going bust as the price of oil falls well below production costs.

In Saudi Arabia and Russia the dramatic fall in oil revenues is threatening economic crisis – and potential political trouble as well.

Adding further to the problems of the oil and other fossil fuel producers – but at the same time contributing to the well being of the planet – has been the rise of the renewable energy industry.

In 2010 the share of renewables in the global energy mix was 8.6%. Data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) indicate that renewables now account for more than 30% of the world’s power supply.

Massive solar and wind operations are being built around the world. Solar heating systems have been installed in millions of homes.

Concerns over a warming world and new regulations governing emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases have in part driven the rise of renewables; dramatic falls in the price of technologies such as wind and solar have also had a big impact.

Holding on to power

The cost of producing electricity from solar power has dropped by about 80% over the past decade. The cost of wind power and other renewables has also dropped.

“Renewable energy is a cost-effective source of new power that insulates power markets and consumers from volatility”, says IRENA.

The fossil fuel sector is still able to wield immense financial and political clout and those prophesying its demise are likely to be disappointed, in the short term at least.

In the US it looks as though coal, oil and gas companies will qualify for multi-billion dollar payments under revised federal government Covid-19 bailout measures.

The Saudis and the Russians will do everything in their power to protect their fossil fuel industries on which their economies – and power structures – depend.

But big changes are under way. Maybe, just maybe, fossil fuels are in terminal decline. – Climate News Network

Renewable energy is making rapid inroads into the market, but fossil fuels still wield enormous global influence.

LONDON, 20 May, 2020 – At a casual glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that fossil fuels are here to stay for a long time yet, although not everything on the horizon is rosy.

The world, admittedly, is awash with surplus oil. The use of coal is in sharp decline. The price of gas – in recent years the fuel of choice for an increasing number of power plants around the globe – is falling.

The fossil fuel industry – the main driver behind the growing climate crisis – is undoubtedly going through one of its worst times in decades.

The Covid 19 pandemic has resulted in a severe downturn in the global economy and a sharp drop in demand for energy.

But the fossil fuel industry’s problems, many of them of its own making, were evident well before Covid swept the globe.

At the centre of the sector’s difficulties is over-production, particularly of oil.

Shale tips the scales

In 2010 world crude oil production was running at about 86 million barrels per day (MBPD). This year production is forecast to top 100 MBPD.

Though oil consumption has grown as the global economy has expanded over recent years, production has exceeded demand as utilities and industries, particularly in Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, have become ever more efficient in the way they produce energy.

The big change in the oil market over the past decade has been the rise in US production, brought about by the boom in the shale oil and gas industry.

In 2010 the US was producing just over 5 MBPD. Earlier this year, production was running at more than 13 MBPD. Once a net importer of crude, the US is now the world’s biggest producer – ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The days when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) could more or less determine the global oil price by tweaking production levels have long gone: neither the US nor Russia is an OPEC member.

The big producers have argued amongst themselves and have not been able to agree on output levels. Oil prices have fluctuated wildly: in recent weeks they reached an historic low.

“Renewable energy is a cost-effective source of new power that insulates power markets and consumers from volatility”

In the US many shale oil operators who borrowed heavily to fund their operations are threatened with going bust as the price of oil falls well below production costs.

In Saudi Arabia and Russia the dramatic fall in oil revenues is threatening economic crisis – and potential political trouble as well.

Adding further to the problems of the oil and other fossil fuel producers – but at the same time contributing to the well being of the planet – has been the rise of the renewable energy industry.

In 2010 the share of renewables in the global energy mix was 8.6%. Data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) indicate that renewables now account for more than 30% of the world’s power supply.

Massive solar and wind operations are being built around the world. Solar heating systems have been installed in millions of homes.

Concerns over a warming world and new regulations governing emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases have in part driven the rise of renewables; dramatic falls in the price of technologies such as wind and solar have also had a big impact.

Holding on to power

The cost of producing electricity from solar power has dropped by about 80% over the past decade. The cost of wind power and other renewables has also dropped.

“Renewable energy is a cost-effective source of new power that insulates power markets and consumers from volatility”, says IRENA.

The fossil fuel sector is still able to wield immense financial and political clout and those prophesying its demise are likely to be disappointed, in the short term at least.

In the US it looks as though coal, oil and gas companies will qualify for multi-billion dollar payments under revised federal government Covid-19 bailout measures.

The Saudis and the Russians will do everything in their power to protect their fossil fuel industries on which their economies – and power structures – depend.

But big changes are under way. Maybe, just maybe, fossil fuels are in terminal decline. – Climate News Network