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OPEC bulletin 2/18

Some of the themes that made up the high-level briefings and

workshops that preceded the official start of the Forum included:

‘Challenges of a 21


century energy system: digitization, artificial

iIntelligence and cyber security’ and ‘Regional geopolitics and

energy markets: Europe and Eurasia’. There were also workshops

on ‘The future of transportation, oil demand, and geopolitics’ and

‘The Nexus between conflict and energy and the peace potential

of energy resources’.

Though all these sessions taking place before the official open-

ing were strictly off-the-record and by invitation only, they were very

well-attended. With keynote speakers, discussants and what the

Council called “briefers”, each of these briefings and workshops

focused on the interplay of various complex factors with which those

who work in the field of energy have to grapple.

Speakers included experts from across different disciplines

and professions, including government and the public sector, mul-

tilateral and international organizations, academic and research

institutes, and private firms. This meant that audience members

had opportunities to listen to people ranging from Anwar Gargash,

State Minister for Foreign Affairs of the UAE, to Matar Al Neyadi,

Undersecretary at the Ministry of Energy and Industry of the UAE, to

Ana Palacio, Council of State and former Minister of Foreign Affairs

of Spain. They could also choose to attend sessions with ‘thought

leaders’ such as Sue Saarnio, Acting Special Envoy and Coordinator

for International Energy Affairs at the US Department of State; David

Hobbs, Vice President of Research at the King Abdullah Petroleum

Studies and Research Center; Kamel Ben Naceur, Chief Economist

at Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC); and Nandita Parshad,

Managing Director of Energy and Natural Resources at the European

Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

If one’s interests ran more toward the financial, there was an

excellent workshop with leading financial services representatives

such as Robert Johnston, Chief Executive Officer of the Eurasia

Group (founded by the brilliant Ian Bremmer); Maria Colangelo,

Senior Analyst at The Vanguard Group; the trail-blazing Greg

Sharenow, Portfolio Manager at the California-based PIMCO; and

the ubiquitous Helima Croft, Managing Director and Global Head

of Commodity Strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

From the academic and policy analysis world, luminaries

included the eloquent Paula Dobriansky, Senior Fellow at the Future

of Diplomacy Project, which is part of the John F Kennedy Belfer

Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University;

Carole Nakhle, Director of Crystol Energy and a Nonresident Scholar

at the Carnegie Middle East Centre; and Neil Brown, Director of

Policy and Research at the KKR Global Institute. In short, there was

something for everyone — and this was all before the Forum’s offi-

cial opening.

Opening of the Global Energy Forum

Though things started off at a very high level before the Global

Energy Forum, the headline event itself did not officially begin until

after the luncheon on the first day. During a plenary session for all

participants and delegates, the esteemed President and CEO of the

Atlantic Council, Frederick Kempe, former editor of

The Wall Street


, offered some warm welcoming remarks to the audience

before turning the floor over to General James L Jones Jr, USMC (Ret),

who currently serves as Interim Chairman of the Council. Additional

welcome remarks were made by Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister

of State of the UAE and Chief Executive Officer of ADNOC, Suhail

Mohamed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Industry of the UAE,

and Adnan Z Amin, Director General of the International Renewable

Energy Agency.

Five different sessions followed the official opening, each one

seeking to answer some of the industry’s most vexing questions.

Under the overarching theme of ‘The geopolitics of the energy

transformation’, each session considered topics ranging from the

changes in policy, technology and consumer behaviour that have

been occurring in producer and consumer countries around the

world and which are shifting the global energy mix.

The rise of new energy resources (ie shale) was also was a

recurring theme, with questions arising as to what the “new geo-

politics” of energy will look like and how this will impact rela-

tionships, economic and otherwise. With the bright and ener-

getic Meghan O’Sullivan — Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the

Practice of International Affairs and Director of the Geopolitics of

Energy Project at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard

— serving as facilitator, an introductory session to the after-

noon was a stimulating ‘shot in the arm’ which helped to launch

the Forum.

The other sessions that followed were equally stimulating, but

each had a more wide-ranging purpose. In a session facilitated by

John Defterios, Emerging Markets Editor at CNNMoney, a conver-

sation was held exploring the role that policymakers must play in

today’s energy landscape, and considering the question: What is

the relationship between governments and markets, and what is

the role of regulation in facilitating the energy transition?

There were clear and insightful interventions from Minister

Al Mazrouei, as well as Wafaa Yousef Al Zaabi, Managing Director

of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation. Rainer Baake, State Secretary at