EnergySource

The role of new energy technologies to meet future energy demand was a focal point during the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum (ACGEF) in Abu Dhabi. Meeting the increasing demand for energy usually raises concerns about international climate objectives. While new energy technologies promise a pathway to meet this increasing demand without sacrificing emission reduction targets, ultimately, policymakers will need to provide the frameworks necessary to harness these technologies, so as to deliver on sustainability goals.

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At the start of the month, in preparation for its first bond offering, Saudi Aramco released a 469-page prospectus that provided the first real public look into the oil company’s books. The media was astounded by the $111 billion profit figure for 2018, and a bond market hungry for returns oversubscribed to the offering by ten times, with $12 billion in bonds finally issued. The initial enthusiasm said more about the state of the bond market than the value of Aramco and is not a good proxy for equity interest in the company ahead of an IPO (now delayed until 2021).

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On 15 April, the Council of the European Union (EU) backed a controversial revision of the EU Gas Directive, which was already adopted at a plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels on 4 April. This adoption by the Council is the last step in the legislative initiative. However, the story began in November 2017, when the European Commission (EC) took “steps to extend common EU gas rules to import pipelines,” proposing an amendment of the current Gas Directive to ensure “that the core principles of EU energy legislation (third-party access, tariff regulation, ownership unbundling and transparency) will apply to all gas pipelines to and from third countries up to the border of the EU’s jurisdiction.”

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Adapted from comments given by The Honorable Paula Stern, Ph.D. at the Atlantic Council IN TURKEY Program's “New Regional Gas Market Dynamics under LNG Expansion & the Shale Gas Revolution” conference on February 26, 2019, with contributions from Ben Perkins.

Last March the Economist ran the headline, “Global powers need to take the geopolitics out of energy.” It may be true that World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, and those of its Generalized System of Tariffs and Trade (GATT) predecessor, have never applied to trade in energy, but energy has always played a starring geopolitical role and probably always will.

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While serving as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s director of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development in 1944, Vannevar Bush wrote: “Basic research is the pacemaker for technological progress.” He championed the idea of a sequential relationship between government-funded research and development (R&D) and innovation. In his view, the government provides funding for basic research, and innovation and technological progress follow naturally.

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A floating storage and offloading (FSO) terminal less than five miles off the coast of Yemen has turned into a massive bomb—capable of explosion due to its contents and lack of maintenance. The risk of explosion increases by the day, and if that were to happen, not only would it damage or sink any ships in the vicinity, but it would create an environmental crisis roughly four and a half times the size of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

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This post is the third in a series of three that focuses on 1) defining, 2) mapping, and 3) addressing the invisible supply chain. You can read the first and second posts here. 

Criminals have the advantage of being agile. They are unencumbered by the constraints that impede the governments and institutions arrayed against them. A criminal network operating an invisible supply chain can, when challenged, often disassemble that supply chain and reassemble a new one overnight. Accustomed to finding the path of least resistance around the law, successful criminals tend to maintain a nimble footing, ready to make rapid adjustments in pursuit of continued profits.

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Hopes were riding high on the discovery of Romania’s Black Sea natural gas deposits in 2012, which were expected to provide a cheap and local source of the fuel for Central and South Eastern Europe (CSEE). ExxonMobil and OMV Petrom would carry out the offshore production, and the Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria (BRUA) pipeline project, formally conceived in 2016, would deliver 4.4 billion cubic meters per year to the preeminent regional hub located in Baumgarten, Austria. The European Commission prioritized BRUA and made European Union (EU) funding available for it, given its contribution to regional energy security, market integration, and competition. Furthermore, the project had also been meant to incentivize Romania and Bulgaria to speed up market liberalization efforts.

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This post is the second in a series of three that will focus on 1) defining, 2) mapping, and 3) addressing the invisible supply chain. You can read the first post here.

In the autumn of 2017, Italian authorities busted a lucrative smuggling ring that was bringing hundreds of millions of liters of stolen Libyan fuel into the European Union. The criminal operation involved coordination between a host of players: Libyan militias, a Libyan crime boss, Maltese criminals, corrupt bureaucrats, Italian mafia groups, Italian fuel traders, and “white pump” (off-brand) retail suppliers willing to pay cut-rate wholesale prices without asking questions.

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This post is the first in a series of three that will focus on 1) defining, 2) mapping, and 3) addressing the invisible supply chain.

In 2014, the Wall Street Journal published a story detailing how the Saltpond Oil Field off the coast of Ghana was exporting as much as five times the crude oil it could possibly produce. The article exposed the contours of an extensive transnational criminal operation. As the story unfolded, it was revealed that stolen Nigerian crude would be shipped to Saltpond, where it would either be mixed with the facility’s Ghanaian oil or simply transferred into different tankers before being shipped to refineries elsewhere in Africa and Europe for processing and then distribution through legitimate channels.

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