The Middle East could become the center of an electric spider’s web, but such dreams face massive challenges.
Non-Resident Fellow, AGSIW; CEO, Qamar Energy
Robin Mills is a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington and the CEO of Qamar Energy. He established Qamar Energy in 2015 to meet the need for regionally based Middle East energy insight. He is an expert on energy strategy and economics, described by Foreign Policy Magazine as “one of the energy world’s great minds.”
Mills has led major consulting assignments for the European Union in Iraq, and for a variety of international oil companies on Middle East business development, integrated gas and power generation, and renewable energy. Mills worked for a decade for Shell, concentrating on new business development in the Middle East. He subsequently worked for six years with Dubai Holding and the Emirates National Oil Company, where he advanced business development efforts in the Middle East energy sector.
He is a fellow at the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy and senior fellow of the Iraq Energy Institute, spent two years as the non-resident fellow for energy at the Brookings Institution, is a columnist on energy and environment for The National and Bloomberg, and is the author of the influential report on Middle East solar, Sunrise in the Desert, and two books, The Myth of the Oil Crisis, and Capturing Carbon.
He holds a first-class degree in geology from the University of Cambridge, and speaks Arabic, Farsi, Dutch, and Norwegian.
While the global energy transition will present challenges for the Gulf Arab states, there are climate-compatible ways to use a significant portion of Gulf hydrocarbon reserves.
OPEC’s oil market management could be more nuanced than the blunt instrument of quotas, and should OPEC recast its mission as assisting its members in energy transition and economic diversification, it might attract less opprobrium.
In recent years, the EU has been inattentive to the GCC, but the immediate Ukrainian crisis and the long-term climate crisis have combined to jolt Brussels out of this complacency.
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia’s deal to develop the Dorra gas field could set up a confrontation between Iran and Kuwait – one of the GCC states with which Tehran has the most cordial relations.
The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are making a serious effort to collaborate with Iraq, but these energy projects still have a long way to go to reach fruition.
Iran’s renewable energy potential is sizeable and underdeveloped, and it provides an opportunity for more fruitful international cooperation.
Gulf oil producers need to show some urgency and establish a strategy compatible with a carbon-neutral world.