A sea of energy opportunities

A sea of energy opportunities

Serena Sabino
From European energy security to the large gas fields of the Mediterranean, to Trump's latest moves in terms of climate change, the opening session of OMC 2017 in Ravenna, attended by Egypt's Energy Minister El-Molla and the CEO of Eni Claudio Desclazi, was an opportunity to take stock of the world's energy future

The energy opportunities offered by the Mediterranean basin are huge and still partially untapped. This area is set to become a focal point for the supply and security of European energy. This and much more, from oil prices to Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris agreements on climate change, were discussed during the opening panel of the OMC 2017, currently being held in Ravenna, attended by Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum, Tarek El-Molla, the CEO of Eni, Claudio Descalzi, and the CEO of Edison, Marc Benayoun.

Zohr, a game changer

With a current potential of 850 billion cubic meters of gas, Zohr is undoubtedly "the greatest discovery in the Mediterranean and one of the largest in the world", explained El-Molla, stressing that the Egyptian offshore gas field, of which Italy’s Eni owns 60 percent, is a real "game changer" for his country and for the entire area. "A new era is opening up for us", added the Minister. "With the discovery of Zohr and other projects that we are carrying out, we will be able to achieve energy self-sufficiency in 2018 and, from 2019, we will resume exports. We already have contractual obligations, which we will fulfil by exporting from our LNG plants in Alexandria and Damietta. Our strategy is to become a regional hub and we have the potential for that to happen".

Trump's decision to withdraw from the climate agreement

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke America’s membership to the Paris climate agreements and to eliminate Obama’s Clean Power Plan on restrictions to CO2 emissions from U.S. industries "will not have a great impact" on a global level. The CEO of Edison, Benayoun, is convinced of this, and emphasized that the public opinion is currently convinced of the importance of becoming "more sustainable". On their part, "energy companies have started to invest in clean solutions and the technological advances in renewables are making them more efficient". Trump gesture is "political and will not reverse a global trend". Of the same opinion is the CEO of Eni, Descalzi: "America has been very virtuous with regard to the environment, not only through politics, in the sense that politics has helped, but if gas had not cost less than half the cost of coal, gas would not have been used, but coal would have been used instead. As gas continues to cost less than coal, Americans will continue to use cheap gas rather than coal". Most likely, "if Europe continues to increase its coal content, Americans will send coal to Europe. This is what may happen".

Oil prices and the OPEC agreement

From the OMC in Ravenna hope has come that oil-producing countries will continue to cut their production, even after the June deadline provided for by the OPEC/non-OPEC agreement, in order to support crude oil prices. "I hope they continue because six months have not been enough and the level of supply is still high,” said Descalzi, stressing that the agreement has been a "major achievement, from a political point of view". According to Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum OPEC should "continue to pursue the path towards cuts" so that oil prices stabilize at around $55 per barrel. "We have already experienced the negative effects of crude oil at $30 per barrel on investments and projects", said El-Molla.