Publications

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Between September and December 2016, the Atlantic Council convened a high-level task force to examine the state of international energy governance, and to determine if and how the prevailing institutional regime could benefit from reform. The Report of the Atlantic Council Task Force on Reform of the Global Energy Architecture, co-chaired by David Goldwyn and Phillip Cornell, represents the outcomes of those discussions—outcomes that are designed primarily to support decision-making within a new American administration, but also ones that are intended to resonate for practitioners of international energy policy across the globe.

 
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The global transformation of the electric power sector will be one of the key factors determining the success of the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change in curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Since the International Energy Agency projects that almost 90 percent of world growth in electricity generation in 2014-2040 will occur in developing and non-OECD countries, increasing investment in clean energy and changing the electricity mix in these countries are of critical importance. China’s role will be central, accounting for an estimated one-third of future electricity growth in the non-OECD countries.

 
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On January 13, 2017, the Atlantic Council launched a major study on downstream oil theft at its inaugural Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Downstream Oil Theft: Implications and Next Steps draws on the launch event to examine the implications of the study's findings and to suggest tangible next steps in both further investigating this global scourge and beginning to confront it effectively. 

 
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Germany’s historical experience explains how the energy transition (Energiewende) came about, and largely explains the resilience of the policies to abandon nuclear power and to scale-up renewables in the face of the challenges they have posed to Germany’s consumers, utilities, and international competitiveness. Whereas the success of the Energiewende to date has come from the way it takes a unifying approach to energy, environment, and labor policies, its success will require expanding the scope from a German to an EU-wide scale. 

 
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Oil, gas, and renewable energy markets will face high levels of uncertainty and potentially extreme volatility under a Trump administration in 2017. Some of these uncertainties flow from questions about the new administration’s yet-undefined policies on energy production, trade, and climate policy. Others flow from the basket of national security risks that a new US President was destined to inherit. 

 
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Risk and uncertainty pervade decisions on petroleum investments and operations, raising the stakes for companies committing to multibillion dollar contracts often extending twenty or more years. The array of risk factors is diverse, requiring multidisciplinary analysis to decipher. New risks arise and others expand, raising the breadth and depth of challenges facing energy operators.

 
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Hydrocarbons crime, in all its forms, has become a significant threat not only to local and regional prosperity but also to global stability and security. Combating this pervasive criminal activity is made only more difficult by the reality that many of those in a position to curb hydrocarbons crime are the ones benefiting from it.

 
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Saudi Arabia’s leadership recently introduced an ambitious plan called Vision 2030 to move the country away from oil and toward a more diversified, modern economy. Fortunately, the economy is already much more diversified than is often reported, a fact obscured by the very high price of oil from 2000 to 2014. Since the mid-1970s, the Kingdom has developed chemical, metal, and fertilizer industries that are among the most advanced in the world. Most of these industries have been built on the natural advantages of Saudi Arabia: low-cost energy, large mineral resources, access to plentiful capital, and proximity to the huge markets of Asia.

 
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India’s economy is increasing at the fastest rate in the world, now making it the globe’s third largest user of crude oil. While India is benefitting from the low oil prices seen since mid-2014, it has precious few oil and gas resources of its own and will remain highly dependent on imports.

 
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Since the 1979 revolution, recurring rounds of sanctions and eight years of war with Iraq have hammered Iran’s oil production and export capacity. Despite boasting the fourth largest proven oil reserves in the world, Iran’s oil production and exports languished at 4 million barrels per day (mb/d) and 2.5 mb/d, respectively, in 2011.

The entrance of the European Union and United States into an even more stringent sanctions regime in 2012 further crippled an already hamstrung industry. Iran’s crude exports dropped 40 percent to 1.5 mb/d in 2012 and sunk to an average of just 1 mb/d by 2014 as foreign markets closed, international investment evaporated, and supply chains withered.

 


    

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