Securitisation of the energy transition and the interests of the GCC oil producers

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This article is featured in Orient III/2024.

The current strategy of the GCC countries aims at the development of their oil and petrochemical sectors and is based on an understanding of two contradictory but coexisting trends in the global energy markets. On the one hand, the energy transition is increasingly perceived in the context of national security issues, when individual countries may find it necessary to extend the use of hydrocarbons. On the other hand, but for the same reason, some players may accelerate the transition to renewables in order to increase their resistance to fluctuations in hydrocarbon prices. This was reflected in the COP28 final documents, which call for a phase-out of the fossil fuels in energy systems, but emphasise that this process should be carried out in “a just, orderly and equitable manner”. The latter formula is often interpreted as stating that the process of decrease in global dependence on hydrocarbons should be carried out without prejudice to hydrocarbon producers. This duality fully meets the needs of the Persian Gulf countries. They are ready to provide consumers with hydrocarbons for as long as they are needed – for example, the EU, which seeks greater independence from supplies from Russia, and at the same time cooperate with the international community in preparing for a “post-oil” world.

Nikolay Kozhanov is a research associate professor at the Gulf Studies Center of Qatar University. He is also a non-resident scholar at the Energy and Economics Program of the Middle East Institute (Washington DC, US).

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