Hydrocarbon geopolitics occupies prominent place in Energía 2017 report

In a fast-changing and complex geopolitical environment it is hard to forecast the evolution of the global geopolitical energy framework, both in the short and long-term. Nevertheless, both the geopolitical and energy agendas have become significantly more connected regarding the supply and price of hydrocarbons, over the past year.

In this context, the Spanish Committee of the World Energy Council (CECME), in collaboration with the Spanish Energy Club (ENERCLUB), and the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies (IEEE), presented the 4th edition of Energy and Geostrategy 2017 (Energía y Geoestrategia 2017) at an event held at Repsol headquarters on 11 May.

The topics covered in the 2017 edition include: the geopolitics of renewables; rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the geostrategic context of energy; the geostrategic implications of energy policy in the new US Administration; and the geopolitics of energy in the Mediterranean and Latin America.

The Energy and Geostrategy report is a well-established reference publication in the Spanish energy sector. It seeks to take advantage of the links that exist between the intelligence and geostrategy communities.

As in previous reports, hydrocarbon geopolitics still occupies a prominent place in the reflections of the publication’s authors, particularly in the articles with a mainly territorial approach.

The report also focuses attention on the long-term importance of developing a demand for decarbonised electricity as an essential path towards determining future global climate policy, and highlights a historical period of great uncertainty and geopolitical tension.

Dr Arturo Gonzalo, President of CECME and Vice President of ENERCLUB, outlined the publication’s analyses on critical issues that have shown the close link between security, defense, international relations and the field of energy.

“From the prestige that has been attained by this publication, is clear evidence that the validity of this project and those who believed in it were correct. Any analysis of the changing geopolitical situation is not complete unless it considers the impact and influence of energy. In the same sense, the world of energy cannot be grasped if all the geopolitical factors that surround it are not taken into account,” pointed out Dr Gonzalo.

“It is necessary to go beyond the local scope and analyse energy issues from a global perspective. I believe that in CECME, he concluded, “we have managed to bring the international energy context closer to the Spanish energy sector, he added.”

Since the previous edition, many things have happened in the field of geopolitics and international relations, some of them were difficult to predict, such as the victory of Brexit or the change in the presidency of the United States.

“We are in a world where the centers of power are changing,” commented Antonio Brufau, President of Repsol.

Mr Brufau emphasised the growing influence of both the global geopolitical situation and local geopolitical realities, which decisively affect companies at the same level as the operating variables. These boundary circumstances, he pointed out, should be internalised in the decision-making process of the companies in the sector. Strategic plans for the companies have to be reviewed in terms of these factors that have a definite impact on the continuity of operations, the security of supply or the price of raw materials.

The Minister of Defense, Maria Dolores de Cospedal García, also highlighted the importance of the publication, which she defined as “an instrument of advice in high-level decision-making in the context of a changing and uncertain environment such as the present one”. She pointed to public-private collaboration as an essential element in defense security policy.

The Minister also spoke about the risks that might lead to political instability and uncertainty of ensuring energy supply. “Spain is a vulnerable country, despite having a reasonable energy mix, that has an excessive dependence on the outside world and with few interconnections,” she said. She concluded that the protection of national energy interests should be a state policy, since “the interests of Spain is not something to comply with in a legislature.” To be successful, she added, “we must be united and build consensus on the big issues, including the growing needs of our security and defense.”

Director of IEEE, Brigadier General, Dr Miguel Ángel Ballesteros, commented: “It is important to obtain maximum social and parliamentary support for all strategies related to the security of national interests. The collaboration and support of citizens is essential to implement the aforementioned strategies successfully”.

On the energy strategy, he added: “Only a basic and responsible understanding of energy security will progressively build an effective state policy in this area. This consensus should bring together the representatives of citizens as well as involve actively society. Spain must educate in energy. A well-informed and conscious society understanding the importance of energy to our welfare is the best asset a country can have to preserve its energy security.”

Energía 2017 features one article with a sectoral approach, Renewable Energies and Geopolitical Renewal’ by Gonzalo Escribano and four with a territorial analysis: ‘US Energy Policy and its Geostrategic Implications’ by Isidoro Tapia, ‘Iran-Saudi Arabian Rivalry in the Geostrategic Context of Energy’ by José Ignacio Castro; ‘Mediterranean Energy Geopolitics’ by Pedro Moraleda and ‘Energy and Geopolitics in Latin America’ by José Pardo de Santayana.

To read the full report click here (Spanish language).

To read the full report in English click here

To view streamings of all the sessions which shaped the event click here.