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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 January 2019

Future of oil demand and renewables to take centre stage in Abu Dhabi

Changing energy mix in Asia as well as the outlook for US shale in a volatile price environment will dominate the agenda in the UAE capital

UAE energy minister Suhail Al Mazrouei, left, with Saudi oil minister Khalid Al Falih. The two ministers will headline discussions on oil and Opec over the weekend in Abu Dhabi. EPA
UAE energy minister Suhail Al Mazrouei, left, with Saudi oil minister Khalid Al Falih. The two ministers will headline discussions on oil and Opec over the weekend in Abu Dhabi. EPA

Global energy executives and policymakers will gather this week in Abu Dhabi to discuss the changing landscape of demand for oil and gas, future of hydrocarbon resources as well as the regional momentum towards renewables.

Abu Dhabi will play host to the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum, which will kick off a two-day conference on January 12 amid drastically different set of challenges for international oil markets.

Prices, which this time last year finally began to make their climb back to the steadier $70 per barrel range, are riding uncertain times after losing 30 per cent of their value a month after reaching $86 for Brent in October.

Opec+, the exporters’ group comprised of oil-producing sovereigns and producers led by Russia, have reversed an earlier output boosting plan to undertake supply reductions for six months starting this month. With US shale at a record high and threatening the market share of both Opec and non-Opec countries, the energy markets are set to navigate a completely new turf this year.

The Global Energy Forum will be headlined by the UAE’s Energy Minister, Suhail Al Mazrouei, and Dr Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, which last year made strategic turns to become a more integrated player. The forum also includes international speakers such as Ernest Moniz, a former US energy secretary.

New technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and robotics and their effect on shaping the new direction for hydrocarbons to work more efficiently in an increasingly automated global economy will set the scene for the two-day

conference.

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Geopolitics and an uncertain economic environment – identified as twin threats to energy in 2019 by the UAE Energy Minister on Wednesday – will be up for discussion on day one. Also on the agenda will be meeting Asian energy demand in an increasingly volatile price environment. The future of hydrocarbons in the transitioning economies of the east, which are looking to draw on the resources of solar, wind and nuclear energy, will also come under focus.

Day two will be headlined by the Saudi Energy Minister Khaled Al Falih, who will brief the audience on the Saudi Vision 2030 and the realities of the oil market for the kingdom. The discussion will then veer to the opposite end of the spectrum - decarbonisation, before shifting focus towards the latter half of the day towards the future of shale as well as that of the Opec+ alliance with a panel headlined by Opec secretary general Mohammed Barkindo and Mr Al Mazrouei.

The energy agenda will continue to pick up pace in the UAE capital with the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week that will begin on January 14 until 17.

The narrative for renewables in the region will be driven by the World Future Energy Summit that will begin on January 15 with a keynote address by Mr Al Falih as well as discussions around how sustainability and digitalisation will drive the growth of modern industrial economies. Sustainable finance, investment in clean energy as well as the future of transportation will be other themes that will be the focus of discussions during the sustainability week.

Updated: January 13, 2019 11:01 AM

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