The Impact of Low Oil Prices on the Middle East:  Fiscal Crises, Corporate Transitions, and Geopolitical Standoffs

On January 28, 2016, the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center hosted a panel discussion on the impact of low oil prices in the Middle East. Panelists included Dr. Denise Natali, Senior Research Fellow at the National Defense University’s Institute of National Strategic Studies; Dr. Jean-Francois Seznec, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center; and Jamie Webster, Senior Director at IHS Energy Downstream Research. The panel was moderated by The Hon. David Goldwyn, Chairman of the Atlantic Council Energy Advisory Group.

The collapse in crude oil prices since mid-2014 has shaken the foundation of global energy markets, with sweeping economic and political implications for the Middle East. Amidst falling oil revenues, governments from the Gulf to Iraq and beyond face fiscal crises, market upheaval, disruption of traditional ways of doing business, challenges to longstanding fuel subsidy programs, and slumping economic growth. In the midst of this volatile landscape, energy producers in the region face an uncertain future that will have ramifications in the years to come. The discussion touched on the following questions and more:

  • How are low prices impacting the economic health of and internal political dynamics in Saudi Arabia? What is the future of Saudi Aramco?
  • How are other major producing countries across the GCC, Iraq, Iran, and North Africa adapting and faring in today’s price environment?
  • Are fiscal constraints inducing major changes in government policies and/or driving macroeconomic and energy policy trends across the Middle East?
  • To what degree are low oil prices driving geopolitical calculations in the region?

View the recorded webcast of the event below: