It is widely believed that no binding decisions would be taken at the informal meeting of OPEC of Algiers on September 26th and 27th, 2016. The price of oil is at a relatively low level on September 16th, 2016 closing at $45.99 for the Brent and $43.22 for the WIT whilst the Dollar was $1.1156 fora Euro. According to our information, at this meeting, whilst facing energy and geostrategic global changes, OPEC informal meeting in Algiers, would be expected not to produce any major binding decisions but it will rather be the opportunity for a broad dialogue. It will be as repeatedly highlighted in my contributions to essentially analyse the impact of OPEC in the face of the new global geo-strategic changes. OPEC members may call for another meeting if some sort of consensus is reached at this meeting of Algiers. It will be to discuss oil prices as explained by OPEC Secretary General.
Meanwhile, OPEC, despite its large reserves does represent only a third of world marketed production with a declining influence. According to international statistics, the ten largest producers in descending order in 2015 were :
Saudi Arabia, the United States, Russia, and China in fourth position are closely followed by Canada, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq. This latter has the capabilities of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait with Nigeria and Venezuela in 10th. Brazil, Angola, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Norway and Algeria with a quota of 1.2 million barrels per day off about 33 million of total OPEC’s daily. Colombia, Oman and Libya, far from its potential because of civil war close the pack as members with some however respectable weigh.
The Gulf countries spearheaded by Saudi Arabia have repeatedly indicated that they would agree to cut their production only if producers outside the cartel, notably Russia whose production recently reached a record level, committed also in this way. At most, we should expect a freeze in case of agreement between Russia and Saudi Arabia and on the other hand between Iran and Saudi Arabia. But it is generally thought that the future depends on the global economy growth, notably that of the emerging markets, Argentina, Brazil, India and especially that of China.
On the supply side, there must be taken into account, the entry of many producers, including Nigeria, Libya which could go up to 2 million barrels per day and announcing only September 15th, 2016 on the eve of the informal meeting of OPEC it will be quickly moving towards exporting 1 million barrels / day. The return of Iran with Russia would most probably dominate the Asian market.
But beware of Iraq with its potential 3.7 million barrels per day, second global reservoir and at a production cost of less than 20% as compared to its competitors) and a production that could go to more than 8/9 million, via a 4/5 million in medium-term in case of political stabilization. This would pose some discipline problems to the OPEC as Iran also is in want of return to its old quota that is over 4 million barrels a day prior to the embargo.
It is the introduction of the US shale gas / oil that has upset the entire global energetic map, that helped with state of the art technologies have substantially reduced costs for more than 30 / 40% in recent years, moving the US production from 5 million barrels a day to over 10 currently. The US in 2016 have become exporter to Europe (1) and seem not to be interested by the meeting in Algiers.
Saudi Arabia (with more than 35% of OPEC’s production and 12% of world production) is today the only producer in the world that is able to influence global supply, and therefore prices. There do not seem to be any existing geostrategic reasons of rivalries with the USA, but only tactical rivalries. The equilibrium price will basically be determined by an agreement between Saudi Arabia and the US. Eventually, the rebalancing of the market would depend on a number of exogenous factors that are outside of the OPEC control; Saudi Arabia for instance equilibrium price ranging between $50 – $55 a barrel. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its report of September 2016, world consumption of oil are expected to increase by 1.3 million barrel per day (MBD) to 96.1 MBD this year, against a previous estimate of 1.4 MBD from the fact that the recent pillars of growth that are China and India are “vacillating”. A new slowdown in demand growth is anticipated for 2017, with an increase of 1.2 MBD to 97.3 MBD. According to the IEA, supply remains steady, especially from OPEC with a near-record of 33,47 MBD in August 2016 – level or 930,000 barrel per day more over one year. This helped to offset the production decline in third countries because of the low prices that have reduced investment, and to limit the decline in global production in August at 96.9 MBD to 0.3 MBD. Thus, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have produced unprecedented levels and Iraq has increased its deliveries. The production of Saudi Arabia amounted to a near-record level and that of Iran has amounted to 3.64 MBD, a high since the lifting of the sanctions. OPEC, in its monthly report published in September 2016, considers that the total production of the countries not part of the cartel will increase in 2017; a forecast which induces a larger than expected surplus for 2017. Thus, the production of non-OPEC countries should increase by 200,000 barrels per day in 2017, against a previous projection of a decline of 150,000. The OPEC report induced an average surplus of 760,000 barrels on the oil market in 2017 against a surplus of the supposed 100,000 in the previous report. Moreover, according to international data, Russia, confronting financial difficulties, will increase its production of 2.2% over 2016 by between 546 and 547 million tonnes.
Indeed, according to a Moscow School of Economics, emergency resources established to supplement the Russian budget would be about to run out. The emergency fund would be at a level of $30.6 billion from $88.8 billion in 2014, which took in May 2016, Russia to launch a bond issue in Dollar.
Moreover, according to Reuters, citing Rystad Energy, the US have reserves of exploitable oil greater than those of Saudi Arabia or Russia, thanks mainly to shale oil, estimated to 264 billion barrels in existing fields, against 256 billion for Russia and 212 billion for Saudi Arabia. And according to the OECD, oil supply will continue to exceed demand at least during the first half of the year 2017.
We do not expect a spectacular rise in the price of oil and therefore miracles at the informal meeting which will be held in Algiers. Success would be a freeze on production, which is not obvious according to my information, the solution being to each producer margins of manoeuvres to avoid the failure of Doha. The big problem is the frost level, if freezing there is, not to touch the countries in situations of war and Iran, knowing that Russia and Saudi Arabia have reached a level of record production between June and August 2016. Maintaining this level would then not influence prices.
Also all depend on discipline within OPEC, on the attitude of non-OPEC countries; the latest reports from September 2016 of IEA and the European Economic Commission is encouraging for the future of the growth of the global economy. As must be taken into account a new model of energy consumption. In effect, the world will have to attend between 2020/2030/2040 to a new model of consumption and to a new global energy power. According to the World Economic Forum for 2016, we should be going through the fourth industrial revolution by 2025/2040 whereby new technologies for energy efficiency in the majority of Western countries, with a forecast of 30% reduction (energy and sustainable building materials).
Each year in the world, $5.300 billion are spent to support fossil fuels, according to estimates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report for the COP21. However, it seems that the majority of the leaders of the world have become aware of the urgency to go towards an energy transition. Because if China, India and the African continent had the same energy consumption of that of the US, there would be need for a five times the present planet Earth. In the event of a change at the global level in the model of energy consumption, the level of prices of fossil hydrocarbons will be affected downward. The two influencing factors that are growth of the global economy and the new model of energy consumption are and will remain beyond the OPEC countries.
Those who reasoning on a model of linear energy consumption as in the past, predict high prices by 2020 are making a strategic error; major investment groups are already moving into research / development in the energies of the future. It’s all over with a price of more than $ 80/90 (1).
In summary, the OPEC countries must as off now prepare their transition economics that depend on energy transition so as to avoid certain strains in their future. The only solution would be to think of a new model of energy-mix-whilst assuming to review the policy of subsidies which must be targeted coupled with action on costs to be competitive, all referring to strategic adaptation taking into account the rapid transformation of the world.
Les Afriques magazine international, Dakar, Genève, Paris, « Le Maghreb a besoin d’une transition énergétique, 13 septembre 2016
Debate on Algerian public radio in Arabic Channel 1 on the informal meeting of OPEC on September 4, 2016, from 12 h to 13 h intervention of Professor Abderrahmane Mebtoul in Paris on the price of the Brent oil and subsidies of energy products.
Interview on BBC London radio on the situation of the European crisis and the impact of deflation ; September 15, 2016
State daily El Moudjahid of September 15, 2016-“SMBs:”a strategic vision is needed” and also in the same daily “job creation: the contribution of Internet sites and social networks»
Interview in Paris by Chorouk TV on September 16, 2016 on OPEC’s informal meeting in Algiers
El Khabar – KBC in Paris TV interview on the meeting Prime Minister, Employers, Unions on September 16, 2016
Dr Abderrahmane Mebtoul is invited as an international independent expert at the informal meeting of OPEC by the Algerian Government, which will be held in Algiers from 26 / 28 September
The transition energy guarantor of global security . . .
The one day 15th World Forum on Sustainable Development in Paris ended on March 13th, 2017 in the presence of many personalities from the world’s governments, politics, business, academic experts in energy.
I want to first thank the President of the World Forum of Sustainable Development for his kind invitation and for allowing me to put my view forward in an intervention, as an independent expert. It followed on that of the Algerian Minister of Energy who has objectively presented his vision of Algeria’s. Utopia aside, fossil fuels such as gas, still have time to go as the main source of energy at least until 2030. But governing is anticipating, it is up to Governments to deal with the new and irreversible global energy changes notably those enshrined in the agreements of the COP21 in Paris and signed off a year later at the COP22 of Marrakesh in order to prepare the necessary energy transition.
It is a strategic mistake to reason as in the past on a linear energy model of consumption.
As far as energy engaging the security of Nations is concerned, the strategy of renewable energy must form part of a clear and dated definition of a new model of energy consumption based on an Energy Mix by evaluating resources to achieve all objectives that have to prepare the industries of the future. These will be based on the new technologies related environmental industries, object of the new economic revolution that is anticipated to be in 2020/2040
Strategy for the Energy of the Future
Photovoltaic solar energy refers to the energy recovered and converted directly into electricity from the sunlight by photovoltaic panels. It results from the direct conversion into a semiconductor of a photon to electron. In addition to the benefits associated with the low cost of maintenance of the Photovoltaic systems, this energy fits perfectly for isolated sites and whose connection to the electric grid is too expensive.
Solar Thermal energy is the conversion of solar radiation into heat energy. This transformation can be used directly to heat a building, for example or indirectly (such as the production of steam for turbo-alternators and thus get electrical energy). Using this transferred heat through radiation rather than the radiation itself, these modes of transformation of energy differ from other forms of solar energy as solar cells such as Photovoltaic cells..
By definition, wind energy is the energy produced as a result of the action of wind on specially designed turbines to generate electrical power.
Average solar irradiation in African countries, according to IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) is between 1,750 kWh/m²/year and 2,500 kWh/m², nearly double that of the Germany (1150 kWh/m²) which has an installed photovoltaic farm of 40 GW (a photovoltaic capacity 20 times greater than that of Africa).
The load factor of any photovoltaic systems would be much higher in Africa than in European countries. And by end of 2015, Africa had 2,100 MW of installed solar photovoltaic plant, 65% of this capacity is concentrated in South Africa and 13% in Algeria and 9% the Reunion.
In the past two years, the continent has more than quadrupled its capacity in photovoltaic farming but this would remain still modest in the light of the great African potential because some 600 million Africans do not have access to electricity.
According to the Agency, this energy would be competitive today with currently used fossil fuels, whether in the case of important plants or isolated micro-grids (as well as home systems). According to IRENA, the investment of large photovoltaic power plants in Africa costs decreased by 61% since 2012 and possible a decrease of 59% of these costs over the coming decade.
These currently are nearly $1.3 million by installed MW (the world average for photovoltaic is around $1.8 million per MW/h according to IRENA). IRENA highlights the fact that photovoltaic energy presents for Africa a decentralized and “modular” solution (with facilities of a few to several tens of MW) for rapid electrification of areas not connected to power grids.
According to experts, it is true that the energy needs of Africans are limited to a few KW/h per capita per year, for mainly electric lighting. Electrical power networks are rare in Africa; therefore there could be no possibility of economy of scale. Africans pay 2 times more expensive power than Europeans do. It’s always more interesting to have cheap electricity.
But industrial development requires great levels of power and heat specially. Photovoltaic source of energy is certainly more suited to small off-grid installations and for some African countries but industrial production would require this to be combined with heat production.
Renewable energy expansion would be part of the professed Energy Transition.
The transition may be defined as the passage of a civilization built on energy essentially fossil, polluting but abundant and cheap, to a civilization where energy is renewable, rare, expensive but less polluting and aimed at the eventual replacement of energy (oil, coal, gas, uranium) stock by energies of flow (wind, solar).
Energy transition refers to subjects other than techniques, such as those related to societal problems. It is a move towards an Energy Mix as justified by the scarcity of resources, thus the urgency of a new model of consumption on a global scale which poses the problem of energy efficiency, and a social consensus, today’s technical choices engaging society in the long term: how much is this transition, how much is it worth and who will be the beneficiaries?
It was necessary to first make few remarks on the current approach to development of renewable energy. We must target priority projects which contribute the most to the achievement of the objectives. Without any decision between the Photovoltaic and Thermal, we would discuss solar heat that seems suitable in the regional program of the South. Algeria that has significant potential in this area can become between 2020 and 2030 an exporter. The lack of knowledge of the field could not explain the selected program.
Indeed, wanting to test all technologies before opting does not seem to be the right approach. This would hide all studies that have been used including the studies in question had been carried out in collaboration with key research centres in the USA, as the ENREL, as regulators of solar technology: the DLR (Germany) and CIEMAT (Spain). The Kramer Junction plant works in the USA since 1980 with a capacity of 300 MW on the same technology that was used in Hassi R’Mel, Algeria.
Solar towers in Spain have been proven for many years. This is to identify the parameters of different technology assessment. With GTZ (Germany) the decomposition of the value chain by component and by cost helped to set a realistic integration of 70% for the solar heat rate. Manufacturers of solar thermal converge with this rate, while also according with the level to export electricity to Europe. Indeed Europe will need to import 15% of its needs by 2030 that is the electrical equivalent of 24 GW or the equivalent of 50 billion M3 of gas per year.
The study has also defined the conditions:- a stable political framework, a sustainable local market the size of 250 MW/year and a market that is open between the countries of the Maghreb. Technologies must correspond to the most important value potential allowing a rate of integration, the greatest creation of jobs, offering the best match with the electricity market and finally, the most important technologies with the greatest potential for cost reduction up to competitiveness with fossil fuels.
The technology partnership and integration generally appeal to private companies. The risk is too great for an investor to agree to be put under the control of a public company.
Transition based on Realism
It is therefore to identify the real actors and have a strategic vision based not on utopia but on realism as it is generally believed that laws and changes in organizations would not solve the foundations of problems, the political actors are therefore essential, referring to the political and social base. As far Algeria is concerned, I warned the Government and particularly SONATRACH of a suicidal adventure that could involve the security of the country, if these were to engage in massive investments in conventional hydrocarbons whereas the world at this time would undergo between 2020 and 2030 a major shift in energy consumption.
The Government that was misled in the past into believing that $90/100 per barrel would be the market price of oil, must at all costs avoid to reason about a model of linear consumption. It is that large firms in the U.S., in the European and Asian International spheres are reportedly investing massively, preparing the future in other alternative energy segments. Also, future profitability must register for the deposits between a fork of $40/55 and for marginal deposits between $60/70 before despite the recent report of the IEA on a possible barrel at above $80/90
What are the axes for the energy transition of the 2017/2025/2030 Algeria?
The first axis, would be to improve energy efficiency with new technology; energy consumption whether at the household level and / or the economic sectors referring to the policy of the currently widespread subsidies source of wastage that should be targeted for energy products. The Algerian Government would be bound to reflect on the creation of a National Chamber of Compensation that would be charged to coordinate all inter socio-professional and inter-regional equalization.
The second axis would be for Algeria to decide on investing upstream for new discoveries. But for the profitability of these deposits, it will depend on price at the international level and the costs,.
The third axis, Algeria planning to build its first nuclear plant by 2025 for peaceful purposes, in order to meet its soaring electricity demand.
The fourth axis, would be the option of Shale Oil/Gas (3rd global reserves according to international reports) introduced in the new law of hydrocarbons from 2013, folder that I have the honour to lead on behalf of the Government and handed over in January 2015. In Algeria, in order to avoid positions decided for or against, a broad national discussion, because we cannot minimize the risk of pollution of aquifers in the South of the country where as a semi-arid country, the problem of water is a strategic issue in the Mediterranean and African level.
The fifth axis would be the development of renewable energy by combining Thermal and Photovoltaic whose global costs of production decreased by more than 50%. Algeria has decided to apply the resolutions of the COP21 and 22, about global warming. But effective action cannot be designed by a Nation on its own. It will involve wide consultation with especially between the countries of the South Mediterranean and the Maghreb because for the Maghreb including Algeria, water resources are vulnerable to changes in climate. Water and its management problems would definitely affect the future of all these countries.
With more than 3000 hours of sunshine a year, Algeria has what it takes to develop the use of solar energy in a win-win partnership. For this purpose, the CREG (regulatory agency) issued decrees to accompany the implementation of the program of Algerian of development of renewable energy in the context of the implementation of a national fund for energy efficiency (FNME) to ensure the funding of these projects and grant loans at subsidized interest rates and guarantees for loans made from the banks and financial institutions.
By 2020, it is expected that the installation of a total power of about 2,600 MW for the national market and a possibility of export of the magnitude of 2,000 MW and by 2030, it is expected the installation of a power of nearly 12,000 MW for the national market as well as a possibility to export up to 10,000 MW. According to the CREG, Algeria plans to launch a tender for investors for a mega project of 4,050 MW Photovoltaic solar power plants, soon split into three lots of 1,350 MW each and backed by the construction of one or more factories of manufacturing equipment and components of solar power plants.
Development of electric interconnection between the North and the Sahara (Adrar), will enable the installation of large renewable energy plants in the regions of In Salah, Adrar, Timimoun and Béchar, and their integration into the national energy grid system. If these achievements were effective, apart from the problem of funding with budgetary tensions, the country would have by 2030, 37% of the installed capacity of electricity for domestic consumption from renewable sources.
In conclusion, economic dynamics alter the balance of power throughout the world also affect the political compositions within States as well as at regional and nationwide areas. Energy, in particular, is at the heart of the sovereignty of States and their security policies.
As I had to sustain it in various international conferences of mine and recently in a long interview by the American Herald Tribune of January 28th, 2016), co-development, and collocations, which cannot be limited to economics, including cultural diversity, can be the field of implementation of all the ideas at the level of the Mediterranean basin as to hopefully turn it into a shared Lake of peace and prosperity.
In the interest of both the Europeans and all of the southern Mediterranean populations, borders of the common market, of Schengen, of social protection, would be the borders of the environmental requirements of tomorrow. These must be along a line south of the MENA region for a lasting peace, where Arab, Jewish and all other ethnic populations have a thousand-year history of peaceful coexistence.
In these moments of great geo-strategic upheavals, the African continent with very strong potential, would have to face up to significant challenges in the 21st century, such as rivalries between the major powers, USA/China/Europe for its control, whilst by 2040, it will have a quarter of the world’s population and perhaps drawing the growth of the world economy. This is subject to good governance and of the primacy of the economy of knowledge and the struggle to lower global warming which hits it hard by the preservation of its environment. In this context, the development of renewable energy is the guarantor of the coverage of needs and energy security of humanity. –
Written in Paris on March 14th, 2017 by Professor, Expert Dr Abderrahmane Mebtoul, Director of Studies Department of Energy 1974/2008 – email@example.com
At the 15th Forum of Sustainable Development “The Mediterranean and regional borders” on Monday, March 13th, 2017 at 9, Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, Paris 75008, FRANCE.
See also recent contributions of Pr Abderrahmane Mebtoul on MENA-Forum.com
“Lesson in geo-strategy in the United States of America”
Few years ago, in a trip in the United States from Washington to Chicago, South Carolina, Virginia and New York, I met important political, financial and economic personalities that I shall always remember, in particular a discussion with a senior official of the Department of the Treasury in Washington. I told him “there must be cooperation between the United States of America and Algeria and a strengthening of this cooperation in the economic and security fields and beside that I am wary of some of the French positions.
His answer was the following and served me later on as a lesson; I quote as of my memory:
“Mr Mebtoul, you are a serious intellectual, so let us avoid any emotions… There are no differences of policy between the United States and Europe including France but only tactical divergences. North Africa and particularly the Maghreb region formerly French colonies, the USA work closely with the French economic and security services because of their knowledge of this region and the US do take any of their comments into consideration. . .”
“As for your country, Algeria, we consider cooperation with it as strategic and this is in all areas.”
In conclusion, may be a few small changes, but in the light of experiences, ikl is unlikely, foreign policy in its broad directions and constants of the States United of America and the France change for electoral reasons.
In conclusion, perhaps a few small changes, but in the light of experience, it is unlikely that foreign policies of the United States of America and France would change for electoral reasons.
That was then and in the light of the recent statements of some US officials, in the face of the new global geostrategic changes, the prospects for both safe and economic cooperation between the new administration of the United States of America and Algeria should be based on shared prosperity.
We must never forget that the power of a Nation and its diplomatic efficiency are based on its economy and that the United States has a global strategy; American officials I contacted speak about the necessary stabilization of North Africa and give priority to the integration of the Maghreb. The Deputy Under-Secretary of State for Egypt and the Maghreb, John Desrocher welcomed Algeria’s efforts on February 3rd, 2017 in the stabilization of the region and “its quality contribution” towards the resolution of the Libyan crisis and stabilization of the region, pointing out that the American economic operators could contribute to this effort as long as Algeria carries on “improving its business climate and diversify its economy”.
Cooperation. In the security and economic fields only ?
Due to the weakness of Trade in 2015, for several factors, including the economic downturn in China, a severe recession in Brazil, a drop in oil and other commodity prices and the volatility of exchange rates, according to the IMF and the WTO official statistics, world trade in volume growth remained slow in 2015, at 2.7%, and was roughly equal to that of the world GDP, which amounted to 2.4%. Despite positive growth in the volume of trade, the value in current Dollars of exports of goods has decreased by 14% in 2015, falling to $16,000 billion, due to the decline of 15% of the export price.
At current prices, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the USA for a population of 324 million people, in the 4th quarter of 2016, reached $18,861 billion with a soft growth in 2016 according to the Department of Commerce as of end January 2017 of 1.6%. For 2015, the GDP of China was $11,385 with relatively lowest growth in 15 years (6.5% in 2016), Japan $4,116, Germany $3,371, the UK $2,849, France $2,488, India $2,183, Italy $1,819, $1,800 Brazil, Canada $1,573, South Korea $1,393 and Spain $1,235 billion. The European Union including Britain, with a GDP of $18,081 billion for a population of 510 million, remains the world first economic power; its rate of growth in 2016 has been higher than that of the USA. Thus the USA and Europe for less than a billion people represent more than 40% of global GDP estimated at $75,700 billion in 2016. Yet to have an objective assessment, the GDP per capita should be considered.
Meanwhile, the United States economy remains a key driver of growth for the global economy. Fluctuations in its GDP, the level of its international trade and monetary policies are followed closely by world Governments and international financial markets. Major trading partners of the United States are China, Canada and Mexico, the two partners in NAFTA, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom; Germany and China ranking second and third, respectively. The United States remains the first trading nation (in value), their imports and their exports.
Commercial opportunities between the U.S. and Algeria outside hydrocarbons, Algeria being after all interested in the transfer of technical know-how and managerial expertise with the presence of important American companies, so as to promote cooperation especially in the field of new technologies, industry, services, agriculture and the building and infrastructure sector not to mention training. In 2013 a contract between the Algerian SONELGAZ group and the US General Electric (GE) was signed for a partnership in an industrial complex of manufacture of gas turbines in Algeria for an investment of $200 million. A company was agreed, as owned 51% by SONELGAZ and 49% by GE, will produce between six to ten turbines for gas by year 2017 — a capacity of 2,000 MW, part of which could be exported. In addition, GE won a supply contract of turbines for gas and steam with a capacity of 8,400 MW for an amount of $2.2 billion, intended to equip six power stations that Algeria plans to build by 2017.
In 2015/2016, directly and indirectly the Algerian economy was dependent on hydrocarbons to 97% of receipts in foreign currency and exports of nonhydrocarbon at 6% being made up of more than 60% of derivatives of hydrocarbons. The nominal GDP of Algeria, deflated by the Dollar that averaged of DZD109/110 per Dollar is projected to be $166 billion in 2016 against $172.3 billion in 2015, according to forecasts by the IMF for a population exceeding 40 million inhabitants. On the trade balance as a customer in 2015, the United States represented $1,977 billion, a drop 59.04% from 2014 and as provider $2,710 billion, down from 5.48% in 2014. While exports to the USA in 2012 (source Algerian Customs), were estimated in 2012 at $10,778 billion and imports of $1,651 billion.
The United States, future energy competitor to Algeria?
Energy security is the paramount economic strategy of the USA which imported between 2011/2012 nearly 20% of its energy needs primarily from Mexico and Venezuela, the Gulf countries and few countries of Africa including Nigeria and Algeria.
What was the impact of the recent rebound of US production of oil and gases, led by technology advances that allowed extracting these non-conventional resources, and reduce their imports of oil and gas and recently in 2016 to become exporter to Europe?
The developments of unconventional resources in the U.S., such as shale oil and gas, have a major impact on prices. In view of these forecasts, the country should reach the Holy Grail of energy independence by 2020. Self-sufficiency in energy announced by the first world power will no doubt have geopolitical consequences. In the first place, the U.S. policy in the Near and Middle East will probably undergo few strategic modifications insofar as changes in the factor “energy dependence” or more precisely, “securing access and energy supply” will become less sensitive.
This will lead to a redefinition of the American national objectives, where the United States, which was in the recent past, the largest importer of oil in the world, did not hesitate to trigger or promote wars and conflicts in Africa, in the Near and the Middle East or Latin America, in order to secure their energy supply. Now soon be self-sufficient, their intervention in these areas will be based on new considerations, including that linked to the growing influence of China. This new situation can only lead to geostrategic upheaval in both political and economic arenas especially of the Algerian economy.
The development of unconventional gas in North America has closed this market to Algerian exports and weighed on prices in the spot markets, which raises the question of the profitability of exports of LNG. The ‘profitable price’ of an MBTU, the unit of measurement of the gas industry, would be for SONATRACH from $9 to $10 for the pipeline and $13 to $14 for LNG. Could Algeria that has averages LNG units size with relatively high costs compared to its competitors, requiring significant transport costs, compete to its supply to Asia, with Russia, Iran and even Qatar?
Security co operation
Moreover, the data sheet as of end of January 2017 of the Department of State of the new American administration notes that Algeria is a “strong partner including its intense work in the field of counter-terrorism and its efforts for the stabilization of the region of the Maghreb and the Sahel… These analyses come together with classified documents of the CIA and FBI and a document composed of 6 chapters of the security of the U.S. Congress research service dealing essentially with the question of Government and politics in Algeria, developed between 2013/2014 whereby the USA recognize that Algeria’s military power and dominant economy in the Maghreb region represented a key partner to the United States in its efforts to combat international terrorism
This cooperation in the area of security has taken such intensity that the leaders of the two countries have decided to structure them in a formalised framework and give a regular character in the bilateral consultations, for a better organization and visibility of the relationship between the two countries. It is for this purpose that the strategic dialogue Algeria-USA was established and the first meeting of which was held in October 2012 in Washington, after the 5th session of the 2 countries joint military dialogue. The United States considers this strategic dialogue as “the Foundation” on which the United States and Algeria aim to strengthen their future relations in political, economic, cultural, scientific and security areas. This rapprochement between the 2 countries therefore translates the convergence of views on issues of regional and international interest.
But let us not forget that the United States has a global strategy that does not fundamentally differ from that of Europe (existing tactical differences) with as a base its economic interests and its insistence for the integration of the Maghreb, under segment of the Africa continent, whose economic control through rivalries including China will be a major challenge of the 21st century.
Diversify the economy so as to establish the effectiveness of Algeria’s diplomacy
Protectionism and the advent of populist regimes are likely to accelerate this trend with a slow growth of the world economy with a negative impact on the price of oil, accentuated by the new US policy of subsidizing non-conventional energy, distorting all forecasts of OPEC countries strategy which incidentally doesn’t represent in 2016 more than about 33% of the world marketed production.
We must not overlook the fact that the hydrocarbons based rentier economy would not be a guarantee of development if it is wasted and that the power of a Nation and diplomatic effectiveness were based on its economy. Recent events, in Libya, in Mali, in the Sahel, in Syria, the important discoveries of oil and especially gas in Eastern Mediterranean and Israel security to which the USA place strategic importance, foreshadow important geostrategic compositions at the level of the region. The USA intend to play a major role in this reconfiguration and Algeria, subject to improved governance and greater realism in new international relations, is a key player for the stabilization of the region
Adaptation strategies are required both in the economic, the political as well as in security policies, taking into account the new fourth global economic revolution which looks inevitable, at horizon 2020/2030, away from the outdated patterns of the mechanical age and the building and infrastructure development models of the 1970s / 1980s. That might involve some sort of a cultural revolution in the Algerian leadership and would certainly raise the urgency of the transition from a rentier economy to an economy away from hydrocarbons, that would be dependent on good governance, as based on enterprise and knowledge and to glimpse at the start of the energy transition (new model of consumption) taking into account the strong domestic consumption, where widespread and poorly targeted subsidies risk to bring a premature exhaustion of the rentier cushion by year 2025/2030 with a population exceeding 50 million inhabitants.
Conferences and debates of Professor Abderrahmane MEBTOUL, who is guest of MaghrebEmergent‘s RadioM in Algiers on Wednesday 08/02/2017 – 9:30am – 11:30am where he will be discussing before a panel of journalists ‘the socio-economic situation and prospects of the Algerian economy and economics of the future legislative election set for May 04, 2017’. He will also be discussing “Algeria facing the fourth economic revolution and the energy transition” and questions of national and international news.
The following is a synthesis of many contributions at national and international levels on the energy transition issue I have been involved with. Indeed, standing before the New Global Economic Revolution and taking into account the development of costs, the new global energy changes and competition from new producers, Algeria’s exports and strong domestic consumption brought about by new investment in the doubling of the capacity of power plants, this country will be importing oil within 10 years and conventional gas in 15, hence the importance, as to how to anticipate the energy transition and eventually plan for it.
1 – Identify the concept of the energy transition,
The transition can be defined as the passage of a human civilization built on energy essentially fossil, polluting, abundant and cheap, to a civilization where energy is renewable, rare, expensive, but less polluting aimed to be the substitute for oil, coal, gas, uranium based stock energy resources with wind, solar, biomass, etc. type of energy source. The peak could according to the French Institute of Petroleum and new energy, lie in between 2015 and2025 for oil, and in 2025 to 2045 for gas; 2100 for coal. The current development of the extraction of fossil fuels so-called “unconventional”, such as shale gas or deep offshore oil, can repel the peak, without changing the finite nature of these resources. Generally speaking, energy is at the heart of the sovereignty of countries and their security policies.
Technical advances (LNG, shale gas, improvement in the performance of exploitation of hydrocarbons) coupled with economic dynamics alter the balance of power on a global scale and also affect the political compositions within States as well as in regions. So it is a matter of identifying the concept of energy transition that would involve answering the essential questions.
First, if the whole world were to have similar mode of energy consumption as that of the rich countries, we would need resources of 4 or 5 planets thus the urgency of an adaptation for a new model of consumption.
Second, we must be realistic and avoid a unilateral vision because conventional fossil fuels are likely to remain for a long time the main source of energy. Also, the energy transition must be based on two principles: first, on energy efficiency, involving the control of demand, awareness, but also training to forge new behaviours and thus a change of culture. That is, we must act on the reduction of energy needs upstream by increasing the effectiveness of the equipment and their uses (for example new processes for the building and infrastructural industries for possible savings in energy, renovation of existing buildings, Ditto for the whole of transport, one of the largest consumers of conventional fossil). Second, this refers to the energy MIX that will require adaptation of the grid to new uses, assuming a new distribution network tailored to new productions and consumptions to guarantee continuity of supply and at the best price.
Third, the energy transition refers to subjects other than techniques, posing social as much as energy taxation affecting the choice of benefits resources and issues have an impact on the distribution of income by socio-professional categories. It is not enough to make a law because the determinant is the social base that raises the issue of a new model of growth: all economic sectors, all households are concerned: transport, construction industries, agriculture.
Today’s technical choices would involve society in the long term. The passage from the era of coal to that of hydrocarbons did not occur because of scarcity of coal and another energy sources would available tomorrow. It is rather due to new technology with large scale production that helped cut costs which economists call economies of scale influence on the reshaping of global economic power and on local governance.
Therefore the energy transition assume a social consensus because the fundamental question is this: this energy transition, how much it costs, how much it is worth and who will be the beneficiaries?
2 – Actions for Algeria in the face of the energy transition
In 2013, 96% of the electricity produced in Algeria comes from natural gas, 3% from diesel (for instance for certain southern isolated areas of the Sahara), 1% from water. And facing these constraints, there is like a general awareness that is pushing the Government to focus on its strategy for an energy transition that is manageable around the transfer of managerial know-how and technology, a win-win partnership that could be achieved in the context of co-development.
The first axis would be to improve energy efficiency. Furthermore it is necessary for a new pricing policy (sale price of gas on the domestic market being about one-tenth of the international price causing wastage of resources that are temporarily frozen for social reasons.
For this purpose, a reflection must be engaged by the Algerian Government for the creation of a national compensation chamber, whose purpose is to achieve a system of equalization, segmenting activities so as to encourage the structuring sectors, taking into account the income by social strata and involving a new wage policy with any grant must have endorsement of Parliament for greater transparency.
The second axis would be, since Algeria decided to invest upstream for new discoveries, profitability of these discovered deposits that depend on the international pricing systems, making thus risky.
EU – Algeria by Grigorjeva
The third axis would be the development of renewable energy. For this, Algeria has to combine photovoltaic and thermal hard and soft wares that global costs decreased by more than 50% in the recent past. However, with more than 3 000 hours of sunshine a year, Algeria having what it takes to develop its use of solar energy. The Sun alone however would not be enough; technology and equipment to turn this gift from heaven into electrical energy would be required.
The large-scale production would substantially reduce costs while promoting downstream a multitude of PMI – PME, strengthening the industrial fabric from clean energy (ecological industries, etc.). The promotion of renewable energy requires substantial financial resources and investment in research and development. The Technology Fund for renewables decided in Council of Ministers whose rates increased from 0.5% to 1% of the hydrocarbons revenues should be upgraded to 3% minimum in order to allow support between the rates guaranteed for the profitability of the investment.
With revenues of hydrocarbons feeding this Fund, Algeria can avoid making these investments on the consumer to low income, following its decision to phase out nuclear power up to 2022. Algeria took delivery in mid-July 2011 of a hybrid power plant in Hassi R’mel that with an overall capacity of 150 MW, of which 30 MW are from the combination of gas and solar input. Interestingly enough, this experience is the combination of 20% of conventional gas and 80% of solar seems an essential axis to reduce costs and mastering the related technology.
For this purpose, the CREG (regulatory agency) announced the publication of decrees to accompany the implementation of the Algerian program of renewable energy development. Incentives are provided by a proactive policy through the granting of subsidies to cover the additional costs that this programme could induce on the national electric system. The setting up of a national fund to control energy (FNME) and to ensure the funding of these projects and unpaid loans and guarantees for loans made to banks and financial institutions are as planned.
The Algerian program is about having 22,000MW from renewable sources of which 12,000 MW will be for domestic demand for electricity and 10,000 MW for export. By 2030, the goal of Algeria would be to produce 30 to 40% of its electricity from renewable energy capability. The amount of public investment by Algeria to the realization of its development program of renewable energy, at maturity in 2030, which was initially set at $60 billion would be, according to the Department of Energy $100 billion.
The problem is whether Algeria has mastery of the required technology and knowledge of the world market; or will it not be best to carry out these projects as part of a national / international public-private-partnership and why not as part of an integration of North Africa plan. The Maghreb as a natural bridge between Europe and Africa could be as the source of multiple challenges that by 2030/2040, could well spur the growth of the global economy.
The fourth axis, Algeria plans to build its first nuclear power plant by 2025 to meet soaring electricity demand, as confirmed on May 19, 2013, by the Minister of Energy and Mines, with the recent start of the Institute of Nuclear Engineering, to train engineers and technicians, and who will be responsible for the operation of this plant. The proven reserves of Algeria in uranium are around the 29,000 tons, good enough to operate two nuclear power plants with a capacity of 1,000 MW each and for a period of 60 years, all according to data from the Department of Energy.
Human resources are key just like for any other form of energy production and to avoid the massive brain drain facing the country, the services centre with its hard currencies release passing from $2 billion in 2002 to $10/12 billion between 2010 and 2015, of which much the hydrocarbon sector got emptied of its substance. Priority should be given to solve the recurring problem of nuclear researchers (this applies to all researchers of any domain) whom for years are seeking clarification of their status, with an eventual revaluation of their bonuses, and aboveall an enabling environment by the removal of all redtape and bureaucratic obstacles that hinder research.
Finally the fifth axis would be shale gas. An option introduced in the 2013 law of hydrocarbons but to definitely avoid polarising, a broad national discussion ought to be arranged because we cannot minimize the risk of pollution of the aquifers especially those in the South of the country. Algeria being a semi-arid country, the problem of water would be a strategic issue in the Mediterranean and North African region, thus there is need for arbitration for the consumption of fresh water, (the new technology with little water consumption being not yet available at this stage, despite the recycling, the costs and the purchase of the know-how are appraised so far)
3 – No energy transition without strategic vision
Beforehand as I had on numerous occasion said, deposits security is required of all in the world; terrorism being a global threat, with coordination actions of the countries of the region a vital necessity. For a coherent energy transition, it will be about having a consistent pricing policy which refers to the mode of governance not being in a market economy, or in the old administered economy, as if in transition still since 1986. Determination of the fare policy is inseparable from the mechanisms of distribution of the national income and the model of consumption of the different social strata. There is need to better target all subsidies.
These grants do not apply only to electricity, but to other segments like the price of fuels, according to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, the real price is expected to fluctuate between DZD60 and 80 a litre. The pricing of water arises in pretty much the same terms as fuels. For gas, and based on the price of $0.25 per million gas BTU, the cost of water would reach DZD69/m³ approximately. The price charged to consumers varies according to the amount consumed between DZD16.20 and DZD24.70 per m³ for industrial use, and between DZD3.60 a m³ and DZD24.70 A m³ for domestic uses. The differential paid by the State thus varies between DZD34 and 53 per meter. Regarding the price of the capped electricity supply, the national network SONELGAZ, suggested that the rate should be upgraded by 11% per year in order to finance its investments.
Moreover, the energy transition based on a mix of production that is less dependent on fossil fuels is conceivable if economically competitive solutions or close to become neutral in terms of climate, generating jobs and beneficial for international trade. There is need to reinforce interconnections of networks and their management through smart grids to contribute to energy efficiency, industrial development and growth. Covered by the energy transition to orientation towards a new model of growth, there is room to foster the emergence of a power industry, at the service of economic integration; the benefits granted by the State to be based on this rate. In this context, there is also room to promote a national and international public-private – partnership in order to promote competition.
Decisions in the field of energy would commit the long-term and the political security of the country under the priorities defined on the political plan as national independence, costs and pollution reduction and job creation. Every major decision should be analysed by the National Energy Council, chaired by the head of state, but only after a wide debate involving politicians, workers representatives, professional circles and competent personalities took place. For this to go as smoothly as possible, there must be mechanisms to protect all national interests. This being inevitable for all non-strategic sectors, otherwise technological and financial positive balances could be used instead and yet still attract potential investors.
Finally the climate action that cannot be designed within a country, should involve a wide consultation with notably countries of the Maghreb and Africa. In general, for the Maghreb including Algeria, water resources are vulnerable to climate variations. Water and its management are problems affecting its future; the maximum volume of water would be in deficit by 2020 according to FEMISE (Euro-Mediterranean network on the region MENA. In the Maghreb region, the negative effects will affect production of vegetables which yields would be reduced by 10 to 30% and a decline in wheat to nearly 40 percent. Thus, climate change could lead to a real migration crisis.
4 – Energy transition in Algeria, the problem of deepening of a comprehensive world reform
Other perspectives must be reviewed by not relying on the ephemeral hydrocarbons revenues. I warned against the appearance of a permanent fiscal imbalance related to the fall of the price of a barrel of oil from the fact that the “balanced budget has required levels of higher than $110 per barrel in 2013/2015 and $87/90 in 2016. So the country’s budget revenues are likely to remain highly dependent on those, volatile hydrocarbons prices.
Algeria continuing down the same road would have mopped up by end of 2016 its Regulatory Fund and would have to dip into its foreign exchange reserves, in the event of a less than $70 a barrel, with as a consequence restrictions with a limit due to the decline of the productive fabric, the current industrial policy based on the mechanical era of the past (of cement / iron and small car assembly production) being inconsistent in the face of the new global economic revolution that promises (Ref. the World Economic Forum 2016 report).
Algeria has after all potentialities to overcome its currently difficult situation and realize its economic and energy transition. For that it would need to adjust to new, sustainable and modern institutions and have a clear view on the future with strategic vision. As I have shown two years ago when invited in Brussels by the European Parliament, and I would reiterate it at another scheduled conference on December 8, 2016, that co-development and the co-partnership with European partners can be the field of implementation of innovative ideas, the future being in Africa and Mediterranean areas.
(1) Synthesis of Professor Abderrahmane MEBTOUL, member of international energy institutions, Director of Studies at Ministry of Energy / SONATRACH circa 1974 – 1979 – 1990 – 1995 – 2000 – 2007.
Conference at the European Parliament in October 2013 on “the Maghreb the geostrategic challenges”
International Seminar organized by the Institution of the German Cooperation (GIZ) Development on 17 October 2012 and its conference in the French Senate on ‘Algeria in the face of the global energy transition’ (December 2013)
Ref. two audits carried out by Professor A. Mebtoul in collaboration with national and international experts and Ernst & Young on “Price, the problem of subsidies for fuels in a competitive environment in 10 volumes at Ministry of Energy, Algiers – 2008
Audit for the Government on “The Oil and Gas Strategy in Algeria, Oil and Shale Gas, Opportunities and Risks” in 7 volumes 2015.
-Gas Strategy in Algeria and the European Market, facing international competition”(International magazine Gaz d’aujoud’hui, Paris – January 2015)
The oil price fell to a level never reached in more than four years losing more than 60% as of 2014, though rallying slightly a month earlier; the Brent managing $47,19 and the WTI $44.72 whilst at the same time, the Dollar lost some ground to the Euro. An Informal Meeting of OPEC in Algiers this September was envisaged in this context.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) 14 member countries have agreed to meet however informally on the side-lines of an energy forum scheduled for September 26th through 28th in Algiers. Miracles are not expected but potential solutions would rather depend on an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, on the one hand, and on the other between Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia and the US.
Avoiding to both reason on a linear model of consumption or to making risky predictions and whilst some experts predicted the price of $70/80 by late June 2016, misleading public opinion (1), I would like to think that we are in presence of 12 basics as follows :
1 – OPEC, composed of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, recently reintegrated Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela, whilst having the largest world conventional oil reserves would represent only a third of the world’s marketed production. Algeria and Venezuela, campaigning for a reduction of the quotas by 2 million barrels per day (2 Mb/d), are marginalized leaving Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries a freehand in the cartel strategy.
2 – The non-OPEC countries’ strategy of expansion represent 65 to 67% of global market. Russia home to Gazprom oil & gas main producer is in need of finance, and tensions in Ukraine do not seem to have affected its exports to Europe where its market share for gas was 30% between 2014/2015. It is well known that Russia has taken market share when OPEC was reducing its quotas. Any decrease in the production of the non-OPEC countries for productivity’s sake, would impact the supply side and in case of expansion of demand would act positively to raise prices and vice versa. The countries of the Gulf, notably Saudi Arabia, confirmed on several recent occasions that they would reduce their production only if producers outside the cartel, notably Russia whose production lately reached record levels, also embarked on this path.
3 – Slow growth in the world economy, including that of the emerging countries, Argentina, Brazil and India between ½% and China’s 7%, mainly due to the increase in interest rates with the construction industry contributing to more than 25% of its GDP, in order to pre-empt a real estate bubble, would explain present demand.
4 – The emergence of American shale gas/oil did upset the world energy map; with a production from 5 million barrels a day to over the current 10, impacting supply and turning the US in July 2016 into an exporter to Europe. Cost of Saudi production however is between $5 and $10 per barrel (that of Iraq’s below $5) against that of the US marginal shale gas deposits that is $40 to $60 and that of the larger deposits at $25 to $40, thanks to new technologies helping to substantially cut the costs by more than 30 to 40% in recent years.
5 – Rivalries within OPEC with respect to quotas, include Iran-Saudi Arabia, and for purposes of market share objectives, would increase their supply. Saudi Arabia with more than 35% of OPEC’s as well as 12% of the world’s production could be the only producer country in the world today that is able to weigh on world supply, and therefore on prices, not existing for geostrategic reasons of rivalries with the USA. Eventually, the equilibrium price will be basically determined by an agreement between Saudi Arabia and the USA.
6 – The arrival of several new producers must be taken into account on the supply-side, including Libya ranging up to 2 million barrels a day, of Iraq with 3.7 million barrels a day (at a cost of less than 20% compared to its competitors) that can go to more than 8/9 million, and Iran with more than 5/7 million in the medium term, and in a very short period exceeding 3.5 million barrels per day. Moreover, with new discoveries in the world, especially in offshore sites particularly in Eastern Mediterranean (20,000 billion m of gas) and Africa’s Mozambique that could have the third largest world reserves. All this is amplified by new technologies that allow the reduction of the cost of the marginal deposits.
7 – We are presently seeing new technologies for energy efficiency in the majority of Western countries, with a forecast of 30% reduction thus questioning Algeria’s continuing regardless of that with its two million housing units development using old methods of construction.
8 – Trends are for a new division and international specialization with concentration of high-intensive energy manufacturing in Asia with 65% of world consumption by 2030 notably in India and China. Customer-supplier relationships will be to their advantage to have comparative advantages pushing prices down as does currently China for Venezuela and Ecuador.
9 – The upward or downward level of US stocks would intensify speculation of traders in the stock markets.
10 – Terrorism interference in oil and gas fields in Iraq and Syria with flows through to the black market and Turkey at $30 a barrel has some transient and marginal consequences on prices.
11 – Any variation in the exchange rate between the Dollar and the Euro would impact the oil price at between 10 to 15%, although there is no direct linear correlation.
12 – The determining factor in the future will be the energy transition between 2020 and 2040. It is a strategic mistake to reason on a linear consumption model and make risky predictions without sticking to the fundamentals. Each year in the world, $5,300 billion ($10 million per minute) are spent by all States to support fossil oils, according to estimates of the IMF in its report for the COP21. However, it seems that the majority of the leaders of the world have become aware of the urgent need to go for an energy transition. In the case of a mutation of the model of energy consumption at the global level, (the future in 2030 being hydrogen), this will influence fossil energies pricing down. .
According to experts of Citigroup, the Saudi strategy preparing for the energy transition, is investing massively in renewable energy so as to reduce its dependence on oil; $2,000 billion could also be seen as a precursor sign of OPEC weakness, as being able of acting sustainably on prices. Rebalancing also of the market will depend on a series of factors that are outside of OPEC countries. The financial tensions in many oil-exporting countries reduce the capacity of these countries to mitigate the shock, resulting in a significant decline in their domestic demand.
A spectacular rise in the price of oil that is expected not to occur, we anticipate to have four scenarios :
The first scenario is about an expansion of the world economy including China’s where the oil price approaching $60/65 between 2017/2020; no one can predict beyond that but all depend on the energy mix between 2020/2030.
The second scenario is moderate growth, and the price would fluctuate between $50/60.
The third scenario, with low growth course would fluctuate between $40/50.
The fourth scenario a global crisis where the price would plunge below $ 40.
(1) – Professor Abderrahmane Mebtoul, PhD (1974) – Director of Studies at Department Energy/SONATRACH 1974 / 2007. Audit director, February 2015 on the risks and opportunities of the shale gas assisted by 23 international experts. – See study by Professor Abderrahmane Mebtoul, published at l’Institut des Relations Internationales (IFRI Paris France November 2011) in French – “Maghreb cooperation / Europe geostrategic challenges”–“for a new strategic management of SONATRACH» – revue international HEC Montréal Canada (2010) – International Conference ADAPES / French Parliament, November 2013 -“new mutations energy global’ – ‘Gas strategy of Algeria facing global changes’ review International Gas today (Paris France – January 2016).
Also – See different contributions in MaghrebEmergent.com (2014/2016) and Interviews of Professor Abderrahmane Mebtoul, on :
CNN Arabic on August 25, 2015
The weekly London based Arab Economic News
Al-Arabiya TV, London, August 27, 2015
The Spanish official agency E.F.E., main agency in Spanish, «Global energy changes, impacts of the decline in the price of oil on the Algerian economy and prospects»
RFI (Paris, France in December 2014) “what Algeria must do to avoid the crisis”
Report of the IMF/Bank world level of foreign exchange reserves 2018 and impact of the informal meeting of OPEC in Algiers
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