His Excellency Mr Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said that the Cooperation Council countries are a key player and an internationally trusted partner in the field of ensuring energy security, and that the issue of the new energy security policy occupies a prominent place in the policies of the GCC, which plays a pivotal role in the oil and gas sector at the global level, ensuring energy security throughout the world.
This came during HE the Secretary General’s speech in the session on “The New Politics of Energy Security” within the sessions of the 19th Manama Dialogue Conference “Regional Security Summit”, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and in cooperation with the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), on November 17 – 19, 2023, in the Bahraini capital, Manama, in the presence of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security, heads of security services, experts, politicians and prominent thinkers in many countries.
During his speech, His Excellency emphasised the importance of studying the state of energy security in our era, underlining that this issue can be attributed to various factors, including traditional conflicts, the absence of alternative plans, and the misleading narrative that alternative energy sources can fully replace fossil fuels, in addition to years of underinvestment.
Furthermore, HE Mr Albudaiwi highlighted the GCC’s consistent proven reliability as energy partners, stating that their commitment to achieving stability in global energy markets has been evident over the decades. His Excellency recalled the exceptional measures taken by some of these countries during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, such as changing the flags of their oil tankers to safeguard the flow of oil, despite the risks to their ships.
He also noted to the recent Ukrainian crisis, which underscored the critical role played by GCC countries in maintaining energy security, mentioning that despite the significant challenges that continue to impact energy markets, GCC countries have demonstrated resilience and upheld the continuity and stability of oil supply.
Moreover, His Excellency emphasised the need for countries and international organisations to collaborate and unite their efforts in protecting these energy corridors against threats, including military aggression, piracy, and environmental disasters.
He further emphasised the importance of the strategic efforts made by the GCC to enhance energy security, including a focus on renewable energy sources, strong investment in research and development for sustainable energy solutions, enhancing the efficiency of energy practices, and encouraging private sector collaboration in joint projects.
Meanwhile, HE the Secretary General stated that the GCC countries recognise the importance of traditional energy supplies in the long term to ensure energy security and the ability to bear its costs, stressing that they have also adopted renewable energy sources, as evident from their national development plans.
His Excellency highlighted some of the major energy projects and plans in the GCC countries, which align with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal number 7 related to clean and affordable energy, and in line with the Paris Agreement, explaining that the United Arab Emirates’ Energy Strategy 2050 targets an energy mix that combines renewable, nuclear and clean energy sources to meet the UAE’s economic requirements and environmental goals as follows: 44% of clean energy, 38% gas and 12% clean coal.
He also pointed out that Bahrain aims to convert 20% of its energy to renewable sources by 2035 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, where it plans to implement solar and wind energy projects with the goal of generating 5% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025, with a focus on clean energy and sustainability.
Explaining further, HE the Secretary General mentioned that Saudi Arabia, as part of its Vision 2030, focuses on addressing energy and climate challenges, with an emphasis on innovative solutions such as the circular carbon economy (CCE) and an increasingly diverse energy mix, where the target is to have 50% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2030.
“In 2022, Oman announced its goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and has started reducing the use of fossil fuels in its domestic energy mix. Based on current global projects, Oman is on track to become the 6th-largest hydrogen source globally and the largest in the Middle East by 2030. Additionally, Qatar’s National Vision 2030 aims to generate 20% of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, while Kuwait aims to generate 15% of its total energy production from renewable sources by 2035,” HE Mr Albudaiwi said.
While addressing the attendees, His Excellency also recalled that policymakers in advanced economies have long ignored warnings from the oil and gas sector about the investment shortfall and placed excessive trust in renewable energy sources. He mentioned that investments in the oil and gas sector have significantly declined from 2014 to 2021, necessitating urgent corrections to ensure energy security and fill any gaps.
He commented: “The world will still need oil and gas in the foreseeable future to meet the growing demand, as affirmed by OPEC’s recent “World Oil Outlook 2023” report, which predicts a 23% increase in energy demand by 2045, with oil and gas expected to meet over 50% of global energy needs by that time. For the oil industry alone, OPEC estimates investment requirements of USD14 trillion by 2045, or around USD610 billion annually. It is vital to achieve this for the benefit of consumers, producers, and the global economy, ultimately ensuring global energy security.”
At the conclusion of his speech, His Excellency stressed the urgent need to strengthen international cooperation, including protecting energy infrastructure and transportation routes, as well as confronting potential threats, whether military or cyber.
He emphasised that a long-term vision is necessary to ensure energy security, regardless of current conflicts such as the Russian-Ukrainian war, or other short-term challenges, and enhancing cooperation and transparency between producers and consumers, which is crucial to ensuring the stability of oil markets.
His Excellency explained that despite the commendable efforts made by the GCC countries to cooperate as active members of the global community, facing future challenges requires a broad global alliance. He highlighted that any interruption in energy supplies poses a threat to all countries, regardless of their development status. It is important to realize that energy security constitutes an integral part of national and international security. His Excellency added that any deficiency in energy security represents a deficiency in comprehensive security.