The collapse of oil prices reminds Gulf Arab states of the urgent need for economic reforms, but they lack the revenue needed to fund them.
Non-Resident Fellow, AGSIW; CEO, Qamar Energy
Robin Mills is a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. 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.
The Jebel Ali find promises reduced import bills, improved security of supply, and more gas to boost the economy but will require some clever technical and commercial work to make full use of it.
The end of the dispute will add little or no oil output immediately, but it does restore some spare capacity, and resolves one of the breaches in the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Despite cutting more than half of Saudi Arabia’s current crude oil production, the market response to the attacks on Saudi oil facilities has been muted.
To be effective, Saudi Arabia needs to keep its oil sector healthy while invigorating the other value-creating parts of the economy.
The “back-to-basics” economic strategy now underway in the region represents a partial retreat, or at least a refocusing, from the ambitious diversification goals of past years.
While pursuing long-term economic reform and diversification, Saudi Arabia needs to show that the kingdom is an attractive, business-friendly place; yet recent moves have worried investors over the business environment, and raised some concerns over the impact on oil policy.
Saudi Arabia’s decision to delay a $200 billion solar power project with Japan’s SoftBank casts doubt on the future of the kingdom’s solar energy initiative.
The U.S. decision to abandon the nuclear deal with Iran is bad news for crude oil importers, good news for exporters, and complicated news for those with more entwined relations with Tehran.
Mana al-Otaiba, former oil minister of the United Arab Emirates, shared a poem with OPEC at its Vienna meeting last week.