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World Energy Congress at Istanbul

World Energy Congress at Istanbul

What prospects for OPEC?

The World Energy Congress at Istanbul, Turkey on October 10th through 13th, 2016 on the eve of the COP22 of Marrakesh will gather a majority of countries that ratified the agreement of the Paris COP21.  It is the first global event to deal with energy and will bring together about 5,000 participants from different regions of the world such as members of the World Energy Congress (WEC), leaders and experts specialists of the energy sectors, leaders of international organizations, researchers, policy makers and leaders but also the media and those involved in sustainable energy development.  On this occasion, an informal meeting of OPEC countries and non OPEC with Russia is expected to take place but nothing is decided yet.

1 – Although OPEC countries agreed last month in Algiers to go towards stabilisation of the market, it is now acknowledged in view of the reactions of the market, that the barrel having gained $5 to $6, a 700,000 barrels cut off production would be insufficient for the stabilization of prices range between $50 and $60 dollars a barrel.  This is to be confirmed in terms of quotas in Vienna’s official OPEC meeting scheduled in November 30, 2016.  It is worth reminding that the decision taken in that Algiers informal meeting committed up to now, only the OPEC countries.

So, on the side of this Congress, a meeting between OPEC and Russia could be held to try and find an agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC producers that is likely to stabilize all crude oil markets.  Russia, second largest producer, is willing to cooperate whilst maintaining its stance of not lowering its production, with OPEC countries, notably between Iran and Saudi Arabia, provided and according to Russian officials that these come to agree amongst themselves.  The theoretical quotas (but rarely respected) by OPEC members that make up between 33 and 35% of marketed world production, leaving 65 to 67% to non-OPEC are as follows:

 

                       Saudi Arabia                        10.447
                       Iraq                        4.320
                       Iran                        3.629
                       UAE                        2.946
                       Kuwait                        2.783
                       Venezuela                        2.095
                       Angola                        1.782
                       Nigeria                        1.508
                       Algeria                        1.087
                       Indonesia                        0.737
                       Qatar                        0.662
                       Ecuador                        0.548
                       Libya                        0.304
                       Gabon                        0.320
    Total                 33.106 million barrels day

2 – What of the Istanbul meeting and its impact on the oil market? This meeting will focus like that of the Algiers one on the energy transition of the decades 2020, 2030 and 2040, with most probably the publication of a report on intermittent renewable energy. This report noted that renewable energy in 2016, accounts for more than 30% of the total capacity of power generation in the world and 23% of the total production of electricity, that the funding of renewable energy is about $286 billion in 2015 representing 154GW in new capacity by 2015, exceeding by far the investment in conventional production of 97 GW. Thus, the report highlights three essential factors:

First, the definition of the market rules ensuring a system of sustainable energy in accordance with the objectives of the trilemma, including clearly defined regulations on emissions of CO2;

Second, the markets capacity that could “ensure safety in terms of supply in addition to markets based on energies “often insufficient to ensure a reliable supply based on the further development of methodologies in weather forecasting to ensure better reliability and speed of response to the variability of the wind and the sun. As for the outlook for the fossil oil market, they are at best unpredictable.  According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its monthly report of September 2016, the oil market will have to take its pain with philosophy, in view of the prospect of the sought after rebalancing under the effect of a demand that is penalized by economic uncertainties and a supply that is abundantly fed.

Indeed, the stabilization of prices is difficult because the supply-demand dynamics would not significantly change over the coming months and the first half of the year 2017 due basically to production continuing to surpass demand.  We saw how production of Russian oil amounted to more than 10.5 million barrels per day, while that of Saudi was 10.3 million barrels these last months besides that of the American shale gas, whose costs dropped between 30 and 40%.  Saudi Arabia’s strategy that wanted to drive out the American shale producers that supplied in 2016 between 8.5 and 10 million barrels a day, having reached its limits, stands unsure that non-conventional oil extractions collapse altogether – in any case not at the expected pace.

Moreover if on September 30th, 2016, the commercial reserves of crude oil declined by 3 million barrels to 499.7 million barrels, the US reserves of crude oil appeared all the same like to have increased by 8.4% compared to the same period in 2015.  China, took advantage of the lower prices to increase its stocks (1) and remaining at historically high levels, can play on both rising or falling stocks to raise or lower prices.  With a barrel to $55 / $60, many of US shale deposits would become profitable, thus a further increase supply could be expected.  However, imponderable events can influence prices such as the fires in May 2016 in Western Canada, that brought down the country’s oil production by about 1.2 million barrels day, disorders in certain regions like that of the Niger delta in Nigeria or other small disturbances like the decline in Iraqi oil export transfer through Kurdistan or the three-day strike which affected the oil industry in Kuwait whose production dropped by about 1.7 million barrels per day.

3 – In the face of the inevitable new energy transition, OPEC countries should no more live in the illusion of the eternal rentier economy, that could play as a stabilizing factor, in cohabitation with other actors, but not being able to play a key role as in the 70s. Also, between 2017-2020 beyond which no expert could predict anything, the price of oil should normally fluctuate, depending on the growth rate and structure of the growth of the world economy.  The oil price would therefore be between $45/65 for a low growth, between $40-45 dollars for an average growth and between $50/60, at most 60/65 up to $ 70 maximum in case of very strong growth; this latter hypothesis should be taken with extreme caution and in the event of a severe global crisis, the price could be below 40 dollars.  Besides according to, our information and as announced in the latest report of the World Economic Forum (2016 Davos) the world is on the cusp of a new industrial revolution that will change the balance of power at the global level and…

The two countries with largest reserves, are envisaging their future in diametrically opposed directions; Russia investing in nanotechnology Research and Development (the infinitely small) and Saudi Arabia ploughing $2000 billion of investment away from oil.  Because if the world went from the era of the coal to that of oil, this did not mean that there was not anymore reserves of coal (200 years of coal reserves as opposed to 40/50 years for oil), but instead it is that new technologies have been put into place that always refer us back to the Foundation of the development on the economy of knowledge (1).  The reserves are and always will be function of the price vector / international cost that could require thousands of unprofitable deposits in light of the global energy changes to be discovered and exploited.  It could also be a strategic nonsense to reason on energy consumption in a linear model, relying on the rigidity of supply that could lead in the medium term, because of lack of investment, towards an inexorable rise in price of a barrel.

It is that the analyses of the new energy mutations are wrong-footing or sidestepping all currently ongoing reasoning.  In the past, tensions in the Middle East caused a rise or certain volatility in prices, while recently we have witnessed literally a collapse in the price of oil, without any real change in the structure of demand.  And it is here that between geo-strategies, and especially that of the European, Chinese, and especially American one that guides the R&D towards new energies, which are committing as of now half of new investments and this in order to maintain their energy leadership at the global level.

In summary, let us beware of any euphoria for according to the Prospects of the World Economy of October 4th, 2016, presented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and contrary to the predictions of certain experts, the price of oil would be $51 on average for 2017.  But the most worrisome is that the transfer price of conventional gas representing a third of the revenue of say Algeria’s with a forecast of 50 percent by 2020 and according to the IMF reached its lowest in 12 years because not only of the fall in the price of oil, but also by the strength of Russian natural gas supply and the simultaneous weakening of Asian demand. The oil is only a transitional funding resource; the strategic objective for the OPEC countries is to achieve a diversified economy that adapts to the new global changes.

Written by Dr. Abderrahmane Mebtoul, University Professor, International Expert,  ademmebtoul@gmail.com

Translation from French by Microsoft / FaroL  faro@farolco.onmicrosoft.com

(1)  Refer interviews and contributions of Dr. Abderrahmane Mebtoul

  • on Chorouk TV on October 7th, 2016 on eight proposed solutions,
  • on Beur TV on October 7th, 2016 interview on the informal OPEC/non OPEC in Istanbul on 10 October 2016 on the sidelines of the World Energy Congress,
  • by the Chinese International Agency on OPEC, non-OPEC nations to meet to boost prices by Xinhua , October 7th, 2016,
  • on Les Afriques international magazine of 30/09/2016 on OPEC-Algiers meeting: Beware of euphoria on the impact of the oil price,
  • on MENA-Forum, Guildford, UK, articles in English – “OPEC Algiers’s Informal Meeting” by Dr A. Mebtoul on September 26th, and “Algeria’s 2017 Finance Bill Enacted” by Dr. A. Mebtoul on October 5th, 2016.

 

15th World Forum on Sustainable Development in Paris

15th World Forum on Sustainable Development in Paris

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  –  ademmebtoul@gmail.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

 

Storms of My Grandchildren

Storms of My Grandchildren

The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity.

Whilst OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers plan an informal meeting in Istanbul on October 8 to 13th with the objective to discuss how to implement the production deal of reducing output to between 32.5 million and 33.0 million barrels per day, OPEC members reached in Algiers last month. Whilst this is going on, Global Warming and the Paris Agreement are sat on a back bench and seemingly looking unaware of  the gathering forces of James Hansen’s “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity.”

In the meantime, oil prices rose to some 7%, whilst details are still being worked out among producers.  It was assumed that oil prices are one of the main drivers of the world economy and not the opposite, meaning the world economy’s dynamism related demand for energy that drives the oil supply industry pricing structure. But sadly, these (prices) also have the potential to make or break a particular nation’s economy, especially for those that are heavily dependent on hydrocarbon related export earnings. The current move by OPEC to cap oil production this high could benefit all oil-producing as well as consuming nations but not apparently the Earth’s Climate. Apart from our attention from the more vital issue of securing a healthy and safe environment for the future, the bottom line would be that the more we dither in ending fossil oil consumption thus production in all nations. This will be the case if the impossibility of the instant replacement of fossil fuels, as put here by James Hansen, were confirmed. 

This introduction is meant to bring in our proposed article of Common Dreams of October 6th, 2016 that is:

4 Reasons the Paris Agreement Won’t Solve Climate Change . . .

 written by James Hansen (Refer to his bio below)

The real takeaway about the Paris agreement: It’s not enough. (Image: Global Justice Now)

Many hail the Paris agreement—set to cross the threshold this week to come into effect—as a panacea for global climate change. Yet tragically, this perspective neglects to take into account the scientific reality of our climate system, which tells a much different story.

Our latest research, Young People’s Burden: Requirement of Negative CO2 Emissions, appeared Monday as a “Discussion” paper in Earth System Dynamics Discussion, and outlines how—if national governments neglect to take aggressive climate action today—today’s young people will inherit a climate system so altered it will require prohibitively expensive—and possibly infeasible—extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Global temperatures are already at the level of the Eemian period (130,000 to 115,000 years ago), when sea level  was 6-9 meters higher than today. Considering the additional warming “in the pipeline,” due to delayed response of the climate system and the impossibility of instant replacement of fossil fuels, additional temperature rise is inevitable.

Continued high fossil fuel emissions place a burden on young people to undertake “negative CO2 emissions,” which would require massive technological CO extraction with minimal estimated costs of $104-$570 trillion this century, with large risks and uncertain feasibility.

Continued high fossil fuel emissions unarguably sentences young people to either a massive, possibly implausible cleanup or growing deleterious climate impacts or both, scenarios that should provide incentive and obligation for governments to alter energy policies without further delay.

The paper provides the underlying scientific backing for the Our Children’s Trust  lawsuit against the U.S. government, which argues that climate change jeopardizes the next generation’s inalienable rights under the U.S. Constitution to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The paper offers an opportunity to examine the current state of the planet with respect to climate change. Four key takeaways include:

  1. The Paris Climate Accord is a precatory agreement, wishful thinking that mainly reaffirms, 23 years later, the 1992 Rio Framework Convention on Climate Change. The developing world need for abundant, affordable, reliable energy is largely ignored, even though it is a basic requirement to eliminate global poverty and war. Instead the developed world pretends to offer reparations, a vaporous $100B/year, while allowing climate impacts to grow.
  2. As long as fossil fuels are allowed to be held up as the cheapest reliable energy, they will continue to be the world’s largest energy source and the likelihood of disastrous consequences for young people will grow to near certainty.
  3. Technically, it is still possible to solve the climate problem, but there are two essential requirements: (1) a simple across-the-board rising carbon fee collected from fossil fuel companies at the source, and (2) government support for RD&D (research, development and demonstration) of clean energy technologies, including advanced generation, safe nuclear power.
  4. Courts are crucial to solution of the climate problem. The climate “problem” was and is an opportunity for transformation to a clean energy future. However, the heavy hand of the fossil fuel industry works mostly in legal ways such as the “I’m an Energy Voter” campaign in the U.S. Failure of executive and legislative branches to deal with climate change makes it essential for courts, less subject to pressure and bribery from special financial interests, to step in and protect young people, as they did minorities in the case of civil rights.

For a deeper dive, click here.

Dr. James Hansen is director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and adjunct professor in the department of earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University. He was the first scientist to warn the US Congress of the dangers of climate change and writes here as a private citizen. Hansen is the author of “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity.”

:)