Diplomacy in the context of the global energy transition
"Development of bilateral diplomatic relations is the most effective tool of state's energy interests' achievement," - considers Steven Griffiths, the Global Energy Prize International Award Committee Member, Senior Vice President for Research and Development, Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KUST). The expert made a speech at the World Future Energy Summit 2019 (WFES) today in Abu Dhabi (UAE), where he examined the value of the international relations in the context of global energy transition.
The modern development of the world energy field demonstrates the "energy transition" execution. Though the term "energy transition" has no common meaning, usually it implies gradual change of use of fossil fuels by renewable power sources.
According to Steven Griffiths, the next decades are expected to have a steady global oil demand decrease owing to the current trends of electrification of the transport sector coupled with the general mobility increase. The market conditions are being reshaped, and the large oil-producing states have to be poised for these changes. The Gulf States, such as the UAE (United Arab Emirates), are the low cost oil producers. Thus, the main threat they could face is not the risk of reduced demand for oil, but rather oil price decline or extreme volatility. This is problematic given the economic dependence that these countries have on oil export revenues.
For hydrocarbon exporting countries, a key energy transition issues are to secure long-term energy relationships with those countries that will continue to be major energy consumers into the foreseeable future, and to diversify their economies away from a dependence on hydrocarbon export revenues as the primary source of economic activity. Steven Griffiths is confident that bilateral energy diplomacy is an important tool for achieving both objectives.
Energy diplomacy is a foreign policy tool that implies the establishment of the international relations for ensuring energy security of the country and improvement of its economic welfare.
The expert presented the UAE’s energy diplomacy strategy. Thus, China is one of the most perspective country on energy bilateral communications for the UAE. It is connected, firstly, with economic benefits for the region that will appear by the implementation of the Chinese program "One Belt — One Way". In general, the Gulf States consider the Asian countries as strategic partners in the energy sector not only in terms of large projects implementation and investment generation but also in development of joint technological programs. The UAE has also strong bilateral relations with Russia. It is based on mutual interest of the parties in prolonging the economic viability of hydrocarbon energy.
At the end of his report, Steven Griffiths made recommendations on the energy diplomacy development. In particular, he mentioned the significance of key national stakeholders engagement (besides the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and similar structures) for the fostering of special bilateral relationships. In addition, the speaker noted that the strengthening of diplomatic relations could be made via tools of "soft power" through humanitarian, scientific and academic, cultural and economic means.