Laura El-Katiri

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                    [post_date] => 2015-02-24 15:47:27
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                    [post_content] => Energy subsidies are among the most pervasive, and most controversial fiscal policy tools in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In a region with few functioning social welfare systems, subsidized energy prices continue to form an important social safety net, albeit a highly costly and inefficient one. In the MENA region’s oil and gas producers, low energy prices have also historically formed an important element of an unwritten social contract, where governments extracted their countries’ hydrocarbon riches in return for citizens’ participation in sharing resource rents. While it is clear that energy subsidy reform will not be the only variable at play, its potential socio-economic dividends are important factors enabling some common regional objectives – sustainable fiscal policy, fiscal space to invest in key areas, and a more efficient and equitable distribution of scarce resources – to be achieved, helping to promote a more stable political status quo in the long term. If accommodated by effective mitigation measures, reforming energy subsidies in the MENA region’s middle-income economies could be a powerful tool for governments – addressing those very profound socio-economic grievances that have contributed to the outbreak of political protest. In this paper, we look at some of the MENA region’s potential avenues into reform. While the past has demonstrated the political difficulty of reforming energy prices, recent experience also shows that the reform of energy subsidies can be done, if accompanied by a set of enabling factors.
                    [post_title] => A Brief Political Economy of Energy Subsidies in the Middle East and North Africa
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                    [post_content] => In this report published by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Bassam Fattouh and Laura El-Katiri examines the prospects of Lebanon turning into a natural producer and exporter. Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone forms part of the Levant Basin, which has been estimated to hold up to 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, in addition to some 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil. The development of its hydrocarbon reserves would enable Lebanon to reduce its dependence on imports of oil products, which in 2012 constituted more than 97 percent of its total primary energy supplies. The government is keen to diversify Lebanon’s energy mix away from oil to strengthen its security of supply and to reduce air pollution. But gas production is not likely to begin before the mid-2020s. Until then, Lebanon would need to import all its gas requirements in order to increase the share of natural gas in the energy mix. The commercial development of Lebanon’s hydrocarbon reserves faces many internal and external challenges. Lebanon’s hydrocarbon sector and its institutional and regulatory framework are still in their infancy. Deadlock in Lebanon’s sectarian political system has led to long delays in the country’s hydrocarbon development and produced a volatile regulatory environment. The country suffers from weak administration, widespread corruption, and a poor business climate. As yet, Lebanon has no proven gas reserves, and until 2005 it did not have any gas infrastructure at all. The international community has a strong interest in ensuring that Lebanon’s potential hydrocarbon wealth brings benefits to the country and the region and does not become an additional source of tension.View the report.
                    [post_title] => Lebanon - The Next Eastern Mediterranean Gas Producer?
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                    [post_name] => lebanon-the-next-eastern-mediterranean-gas-producer
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                    [post_modified] => 2016-03-01 13:50:13
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                    [post_date] => 2014-10-27 10:57:52
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                    [post_content] => There is limited scope for significantly reducing overall European dependence on Russian gas before the mid-2020s. Countries in the Baltic region and south eastern Europe which are highly dependent on Russian gas, and hence extremely vulnerable to interruptions, could substantially reduce and even eliminate imports of Russian gas by the early 2020s, by a combination of LNG and pipeline gas from Azerbaijan. Similar measures could reduce (but not eliminate) the dependence of central Europe and Turkey on Russian gas. However, Russian gas will be highly competitive with all other pipeline gas and LNG (including US LNG) supplies to Europe, and Gazprom’s market power to impact European hub prices may be considerable. Countries with strong geopolitical fears related to Russian gas dependence will need to either terminate, or not renew on expiry, their long term contracts with Gazprom.
                    [post_title] => Reducing European Dependence on Russian Gas - distinguishing natural gas security from geopolitics
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                    [post_content] => This study explores the economic potential for, and possible caveats of, renewable energy in the GCC countries. Looking at the case of Kuwait, the authors highlight the growing potential for economic cost savings, primarily for solar photovoltaic power in the GCC states over oil-fired power generation, in the current global high-price environment for oil. The economics of solar power versus gas-fired power generation in the GCC are less obvious, though rising LNG imports by some GCC countries (chiefly Kuwait, the UAE and possibly Bahrain) are expected to improve these economics in the future. Renewable energy also entails some important caveats for the region. Highly distorted domestic energy markets that continue to price fuel at a fraction of its shadow economic cost provide few market-based incentives for utilities to switch towards renewables. The recent emphasis on the use of energy policies for renewables for the creation of ‘green’ jobs by GCC policymakers’ may increase, rather than reduce, unproductive economic sinks across the GCC states’ domestic energy industries and that would considerably dilute, if not call into question, any economic gains to be made from renewable energy in the GCC.

Executive Summary
                    [post_title] => Prospects for Renewable Energy in GCC States - Opportunities and the Need for Reform
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                    [post_content] => The political turmoil that has swept across many parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) since the beginning of the Arab Spring in December 2010 and the tightening of international sanctions against Iran in 2012 have reignited the recurring debate about energy security and the reliability of MENA as an energy supplier. In this paper, we examine the impact of the past three years of political turmoil in MENA on oil and gas markets. We argue that although many disruptions did occur and oil prices did rise, especially following the Libyan revolution in 2011 and when fears of a potential military confrontation between Iran and the USA intensified in early 2012, the short-term effects on oil and gas markets of recent events in the region have been less dramatic than originally feared. The Arab Spring did not destabilize the large Gulf oil and gas producers; the rise in oil price induced by political and geopolitical factors proved to be transient; and oil and gas markets have shown relative resilience in filling the supply gap and in redirecting oil and gas trade flows. Beyond the immediate impact of the past three years of political turmoil in the MENA, however, we argue that it is the more subtle, long-term effects of regional political instability and international sanctions that are likely to leave the most lasting mark on regional oil and gas markets. Potential repercussions are likely to be felt through several years of an unstable regulatory and investment environment, policy uncertainty, deteriorating security, and a lack of much needed energy pricing reform that will impact the long-term production and export capacity of various MENA oil and gas producers, including some of those unaffected directly by the Arab Spring and sanctions.
                    [post_title] => The Arab Uprisings and MENA Political Instability - Implications for Oil & Gas Markets
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                    [post_name] => the-arab-uprisings-and-mena-political-instability-implications-for-oil-gas-markets
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                    [post_modified] => 2016-03-01 14:28:16
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                    [post_content] => Home to more than half of the world’s crude oil and more than a third of its natural gas reserves, the MENA region has, for the past fifty years, gained enormous significance as a global producer and exporter of energy. The MENA region is already a major energy consumer, and is forecast to continue to account, alongside Asia, for the majority of the world’s energy demand growth well into the 2030s; placing domestic energy policies at the heart of the region’s economic agendas for the coming decades. This paper argues that renewable energy – most importantly solar power, with its particular regional climatic advantage – could play a significant role as a cost-competitive alternative to conventional fossil fuels, if the full opportunity cost of domestically consumed oil and natural gas resources is fully priced into the regional energy system. The absence of cost-reflective energy and electricity tariffs in the MENA region today currently conceals this potential cost advantage; and leaves renewable energy deployment subject to further, economically distorting, policies such as renewables targets and fiscal incentives. Systematically opening up the economic opportunities offered by renewable energy to the MENA region will hence require structural reform of regional energy market and pricing mechanisms, thereby rationalizing the use of different energy sources in each domestic market.
                    [post_title] => A Roadmap for Renewable Energy in the Middle East and North Africa
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                    [post_name] => a-roadmap-for-renewable-energy-in-the-middle-east-and-north-africa
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                    [post_modified] => 2016-02-29 15:45:38
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                    [post_content] => For many decades, the Gulf states’ significant oil reserves have rendered the region among the most important energy suppliers in the world, and there is similar potential for the region’s natural gas reserves. However, the Gulf states’ rapidly rising regional consumption has begun to play a critical role in the region’s future export prospects, including the size and longevity of domestic oil and gas production, both for domestic and export market supply. This paper by Laura El-Katiri aims to discuss the current and future challenges evolving from the Gulf region’s growing domestic energy use, coupled to its continued, almost exclusive, reliance on oil and natural gas, on the region’s future export potential, as well as the security of its domestic energy supplies. It suggests that only a more proactive Gulf policy response to rising domestic energy consumption can help safeguard the stability of the Gulf’s role as a global energy supplier as well as its domestic long-term energy security; such a policy response would include the diversification of the region’s energy base and the effective management of domestic demand.
                    [post_title] => Energy Sustainability in the Gulf States - The Why and the How
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                    [post_modified] => 2016-02-29 15:37:18
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                    [post_date] => 2013-01-08 15:42:21
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                    [post_content] => Like no other region, energy resources have shaped the Arab world and its modern-day development trajectory. Endowed with some of the world’s most important oil and natural gas reserves, countries in the Arab world have over the past four decades produced and exported more oil than those of any other region, and hold reserves sufficient to supply world energy markets for more than another hundred years at current rates of production. Its energy wealth has benefited the Arab world, despite significant differences across the region alongside differing national resources, and their management across governments. Significant challenges also derive from the Arab energy led development model, particularly patterns of domestic energy consumption, rising demand for energy across the region, and rising domestic investment needs. This paper, by Bassam Fattouh and Laura El-Katiri, published by the UNDP, attempts to provide a very brief overview of the role energy has played in driving economic development in the Arab world, its effects on development choices, and the challenges faced by the resultant development model. It does so by looking at four different aspects of energy-led development: 1) the effect of energy on regional Arab economic growth; 2) the inter-linkages between energy and Arab economic structures; 3) the implications of energy for intra-regional integration; and 4) evolving challenges from this development model.

Please follow the link to access the paper.
                    [post_title] => Energy and Arab Economic Development
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                    [post_name] => energy-and-arab-economic-development
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                    [post_modified] => 2016-03-01 14:46:50
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                    [post_date] => 2012-12-19 11:30:56
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                    [post_content] => The discovery of sizable gas resources in the Levant Basin, a geological structure that straddles the territorial waters of Cyprus, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, and Syria, has the potential to be game-changing for the East Mediterranean region. Hitherto net energy importers, these countries are now faced with the prospect of long-term energy self-sufficiency and the development of a new revenue stream for the economy. With the resource potential of the Levant Basin believed to be much higher than the 35 Tcf of gas discovered recently, the East Mediterranean is now the focus of much interest on the part of major upstream investors. However, in the short to medium term, the development and monetisation of these resources present stakeholders with a set of challenges originating in the region’s complex political make-up, as well as in the fact that their energy and gas utilisation policies are still work in progress, over and above the technical difficulties relating to the development of these resources. This paper examines the challenges and opportunities that have been given rise to by these discoveries, arguing that to 2020 East Mediterranean gas is more likely to be a game-changer for local energy systems than for regional and international gas markets.
                    [post_title] => East Mediterranean Gas - what kind of a game-changer?
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                    [post_modified] => 2016-03-01 14:47:49
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                    [post_date] => 2012-12-03 18:28:58
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                    [post_content] => For a long time, nuclear energy appeared to be an unlikely scenario for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. However, the late 2000s have seen a policy U-turn in the GCC’s attitude toward nuclear power, with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia now pursuing plans for their own nuclear reactors by the 2020s. The introduction of civilian nuclear programmes to the GCC is symptomatic of a more structural shift in the way the GCC and the wider Gulf produces and consumes energy. Rapidly rising levels of domestic energy consumption have already made the GCC a regional energy consumer rivalling the combined energy demand of Latin America. This renders alternative sources of energy, including nuclear power, an increasingly attractive long-term solution in view of the region’s otherwise rapidly rising drag on its own main export products – crude oil and natural gas. However, nuclear power raises a number of economic, political, and security question in the fragile Gulf region. This energy comment by Laura El-Katiri explores the reasons for the GCC’s pursuit of nuclear power, and questions the economic and political rationale behind the move.
                    [post_title] => The GCC and the Nuclear Question
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                    [post_name] => the-gcc-and-the-nuclear-question
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                    [post_content] => This paper, authored by Bassam Fattouh and Laura El-Katiri and published by the United Nations Development Programme, explores the issue of energy subsidies in the Arab World. The authors argue that while energy subsidies may be seen as achieving social objectives (such as expanding energy access and protecting poor households’ incomes); economic objectives (such as fostering industrial growth and smoothing domestic consumption); and political objectives (such as distributing the oil and natural gas rents to the population), they are a costly and inefficient way of doing so. Energy subsidies distort price signals, with serious implications on efficiency and the optimal allocation of resources. Energy subsidies also tend to be regressive, with high-income households and industries benefiting proportionately most from low energy prices. However, despite such adverse effects, energy subsidies constitute an important social safety net for the poor in many parts of the Arab world, and any attempts to reduce or eliminate them in the absence of compensatory programmes would lead to a decline in households’ welfare and erode the competitiveness of certain industries. Therefore, a critical factor for successful reforms will be the ability of governments to compensate their populations for the reduction or removal of subsidies through carefully designed mitigation measures. It is argued that  reform of energy pricing mechanisms in the Arab world may be seen as beneficial from more than one perspective. Nevertheless, this paper recognises that the current political climate in the region will render the reform of domestic energy prices difficult in practice, such that reform may indeed be a medium- to long-term endeavour.

Please follow the link to access the paper.
                    [post_title] => Energy Subsidies in the Arab World
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                    [post_content] => The exchange of threats between Iran and the West vis-à-vis Iranian oil exports to European and other consumer countries has received wide attention among policy makers and analysts; IMF officials predict that crude oil prices could increase by as much as 30 percent in case of a halt of Iran's exports to OECD countries, and if other sources don’t offset the loss of Iranian crude oil. Others claim that all the elements are set for ‘the $200 a barrel scenario’. However, this commentary offers a less pessimistic view, and argues that the potential impacts of such threats on oil market dynamics are often exaggerated. Oil embargos against individual producing countries are in reality difficult to implement, for they require a concerted effort by a large number of buyers to prevent oil producers from diverting crude oil from one market to another. Where they result in a tightening of oil markets and rising prices for consumer nations, they can be relaxed or amended. As for the use of an Iranian oil weapon, the fact remains that despite continuous threats, Iran has never used the oil weapon; the oil weapon remains an indiscriminate policy measure that all producers, including Iran, are reluctant to use; and if ever employed, it is likely to be ineffective and counterproductive from a producer’s point of view. Nevertheless, fears that governments may pursue policies to restrict the flow of energy supplies rattle markets and place a premium on the oil price and contribute to increased price volatility.
                    [post_title] => On Oil Embargos and the Myth of the Iranian Oil Weapon
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                    [post_content] => While much of the emphasis of the literature on energy poverty is on the prevalence of the phenomenon in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, little has been written about energy poverty in the Arab world.  Traditionally having being seen as one of the world’s most energy rich regions, the Arab world has in recent years often been overlooked as a region which suffers severely from energy poverty itself. In 2002, about 65 million people in the Arab world had no access to electricity, and an additional 60 million were severely undersupplied in both urban and rural areas. In terms of cooking and heating, almost one-fifth of the Arab population rely on non-commercial fuels like wood, dung, and agricultural residues particularly in Comoros, Djibouti, Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia but also in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Syria. This study by Laura El-Katiri and Bassam Fattouh fills a gap in the existing literature by looking at the case of prevailing energy poverty in Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world. The Yemeni case is particularly interesting because of the country’s status as a net energy exporter. Large segments of the Yemeni population both in rural and urban areas rely heavily on traditional fuels such as firewood and dung while electrification rates in Yemen is relatively low where only 54% of Yemeni households have access to electricity. Decades of underinvestment and lack of necessary infrastructure, and Yemen’s prevailing poverty problem have all contributed to this status, as has the country’s fractured political system.
                    [post_title] => Energy Poverty in the Arab World: The Case of Yemen
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                    [post_content] => The GCC countries have experienced tremendous economic growth over the past decade as a result of high windfall revenues from their oil and natural gas exports. At the same time, the region’s own energy consumption, including of electricity, has risen fast, leading to various capacity bottlenecks in the short term with recurrent electricity outages along the Gulf coast for consecutive summers at times of peak demand. In this context, it has been noteworthy that one of the GCC’s most recent mega-project, the GCC Interconnection Grid, went online in July 2009 with its first phase. The GCC Grid is aimed at enabling the opening of a regional market for electricity, with various potential benefits for GCC electricity supply security, as well as economic benefits. In this paper, Laura El-Katiri tried answering the question to what extent intra-GCC electricity trading could potentially be part of a mid- to long term solution for the GCC states in increasing their electricity sectors’ supply security as well as their market efficiency. She concludes that potential for commercial trade in electricity between the GCC states does exist, but various features of national electricity markets in the GCC mean this potential is likely to materialise only in the long term. Until then, the GCC Grid stays an expensive but strategically useful piece of infrastructure which may one day form the backbone of a more integrated, regional market.
                    [post_title] => Interlinking the Arab Gulf: Opportunities and Challenges of GCC Electricity Market Cooperation
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            [post_content] => Energy subsidies are among the most pervasive, and most controversial fiscal policy tools in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In a region with few functioning social welfare systems, subsidized energy prices continue to form an important social safety net, albeit a highly costly and inefficient one. In the MENA region’s oil and gas producers, low energy prices have also historically formed an important element of an unwritten social contract, where governments extracted their countries’ hydrocarbon riches in return for citizens’ participation in sharing resource rents. While it is clear that energy subsidy reform will not be the only variable at play, its potential socio-economic dividends are important factors enabling some common regional objectives – sustainable fiscal policy, fiscal space to invest in key areas, and a more efficient and equitable distribution of scarce resources – to be achieved, helping to promote a more stable political status quo in the long term. If accommodated by effective mitigation measures, reforming energy subsidies in the MENA region’s middle-income economies could be a powerful tool for governments – addressing those very profound socio-economic grievances that have contributed to the outbreak of political protest. In this paper, we look at some of the MENA region’s potential avenues into reform. While the past has demonstrated the political difficulty of reforming energy prices, recent experience also shows that the reform of energy subsidies can be done, if accompanied by a set of enabling factors.
            [post_title] => A Brief Political Economy of Energy Subsidies in the Middle East and North Africa
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Latest Publications by Laura El-Katiri

Latest Tweets from @OxfordEnergy

  • Bassam Fattouh speaking in Abu Dhabi on the key trends shaping the oil market and the implications for the GCC https://t.co/DhJjiB0czd

    March 22nd

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    March 22nd

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    March 21st

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