EnergySource

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) promised economic recovery for Iran in the form of sanctions relief, and many expected it would boost the country’s prosperity and general economic outlook. However, despite the initial optimism and some positive trends following the implementation of JCPOA, broad economic improvements have not materialized. The challenges are both internal and external, including a concerted effort by the Trump Administration to thwart business with Iran.

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Bilateral and global energy issues are front and center as the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, arrives in the United States. While the biggest focus might be on Saudi Arabia’s vital role as the world’s largest crude oil exporter and the impact that growing US oil production and market influence are having on Saudi leadership and OPEC, the energy implications of the crown prince’s Vision 2030 for the modernization and diversification of the Saudi economy and opportunities for US commercial involvement are also critical. 

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Rarely a day goes by without a headline about Saudi Arabia and the reforms underway as part of Vision 2030, the plan intended to help Saudi Arabia pivot from an oil-based to a knowledge-based economy. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) is making his rounds internationally, including a much-heralded visit to the United States this week, to increase foreign investments in Saudi Arabia in support of the Vision. However, while Saudi Arabia may be moving away from an oil-based economy, they are not moving away from an energy-based economy. In fact, through investments in petrochemicals and other energy sector opportunities, Saudi Arabia is doubling down on energy—and won’t be able to diversify to a knowledge-based economy without investing in human capital.

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in the United States Monday to much fanfare. One of the hot topics during the crown prince’s visit is the long-expected, much-anticipated privatization of Saudi Aramco. One major unanswered question surrounding the plan for privatization is where Saudi leadership wants to locate the initial public offering (IPO) for 5 percent of the company. Prevailing wisdom holds that shares will be floated in Riyadh on the Tadawul stock market, while a large portion will be floated either in New York, London, Shanghai, or Hong Kong. It is also possible that Chinese firms will buy a certain amount of the shares privately ahead of the IPO.

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From the campaign trail to the Oval Office, US President Donald J. Trump has made no secret of his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and has more recently called for legislation and a new agreement with key European allies to supplement the deal. With the May 12 deadline for the president to renew critical sanctions waivers to continue implementing the JCPOA looming, US diplomats and their European counterparts have a tough task ahead to reach an agreement that can satisfy the president’s demands, lest he withdraw the United States from the deal altogether.

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Natural laws, like the laws of thermodynamics, govern us all, and we ignore them at our peril. Nowhere is this more consequential, at the moment, than in dealing with climate change.

Energy, in any form, is subject to the laws of thermodynamics. The First Law of Thermodynamics says energy cannot be created nor destroyed and that the amount of energy in the universe is a constant. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that all any physical systems trend towards disorder (entropy).

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As technologies advance, costs fall, and policy support and public acceptance grow, the rapid commercial growth of renewable energy continues to be one of the biggest stories in global energy. As countries continue to transition to a low carbon future in the early years of Paris implementation, evidence suggests that the outlook for renewables’ growth is bright.

Expected to account for nearly all of the growth in primary energy demand, China, India, and other developing countries are critical to the transition. However, developments in the United States and Europe will also be significant and help pave the way for further efficiency improvements and driving reduction in the costs of these technologies.

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In a new working paper, Global Energy Center Senior Fellow Alan Riley highlights the risks that could stem from the construction of the contentious proposed Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which would bring gas from Russia to Germany. In the working paper, Dr. Riley emphasizes that the proposed pipeline would have negative implications for European energy security, including undermining transit security, reducing route diversity, creating a “Straits of Hormuz” risk for Europe, and undermining the single market.
March 8 is international women’s day. This year, the theme is to “press for progress” and one area women have been seeking—and making—progress is in representation in the workplace. Nowhere is this more in focus than in the Gulf countries, where the inclusion of women in the workforce is part of overall efforts to diversify economies away from hydrocarbon revenue.

 RBC Women in Energy Infographic

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Did Gazprom’s sudden move to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in early March give Europe a chance to secure an almost instantaneous improvement to its energy security?

Gazprom’s response to what it saw as an adverse February 28 ruling by an arbitration court in Stockholm, effectively ordering the Russian gas giant to pay  $2.64 billion to Ukraine’s national gas company, Naftogaz, was unexpected. Not only did Gazprom cut off its limited direct supply of gas to Ukraine­­—gas that Ukraine already paid for—on March 1, but Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller stated the following day that supplies transiting through Ukraine to customers in central Europe were also being terminated.  

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