Perspectives from Middle East and North African Countries
Edited by Carlo Altomonte and Massimiliano Ferrara
Chapter 6: The energy sector in Mediterranean and MENA countries
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has about 57 per cent of the world's proven oil reserves and 41 per cent of proven natural gas resources and the upstream potential of many countries in the region is still underexplored. The area is also endowed with large solar resources. However, the political upheaval that took place in several Arab countries in 2011 has raised some concerns about the stability of this area. Important political changes are taking place and some observers fear that this might affect energy policies and production. Neighbouring countries, especially those in the northern shore of the Mediterranean, which are dependent on energy imports, are looking for opportunities to reinforce the links with the southern shore. Indeed, the Mediterranean is characterized by a gap between countries rich in natural resources in the South and countries dependent on such resources, mainly in the North. The commercial bundle is strong: in 2010 the MENA region accounted for 32 per cent of EU natural gas imports, slightly more than the 28 per cent recorded in 2000 (Darbouche and Fattouh, 2011). As for energy policies, EU countries have high requirements in terms of energy efficiency and renewable energy production, while non-EU countries on the northern shore are moving in the same direction. However, in many MENA countries the situation is completely different: fuel prices are distorted by subsidies and thus energy intensity is artificially higher. Moreover, the efficiency of supply is poor.
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