Should Middle East Pivot to Asia for Big Trade Energy Growth?

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Middle East & North Africa need $1 trillion energy boost by 2030; Six Gulf Cooperation Council countries will make up 50% of MENA GDP by 2015.

ABU DHABI (11 November) – More than USD1 trillion of investments are needed by 2030 to meet demand for gas and electricity in the Middle East and North Africa and soon nearly 50 percent of its economic growth will come from the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) – according to analysis shared by IHS (NYSE: IHS) the leading source of information & analytics, at the ADIPEC 2013 oil and gas conference in Abu Dhabi.

Energy demand

Demand for natural gas in the GCC countries will rise more than 50 percent by 2030, from 256 billion cubic metres in 2011 to 400 bcm in 2030. At the same time, demand for oil from the GCC will also grow by more than 50 percent by 2030, from around 4 million barrels per day to more than 6.2 mbd.

Leila Benali, director, IHS Energy, said: “Recent political events in Egypt, geopolitical developments in Iran and emerging energy players like Israel are unlikely to change the need for investment in the Middle East and North Africa. On the contrary, leaders in the region want to keep the oil and gas flowing, keep the lights on and their economies growing. Their ability to make these vital investments depends on their ability to diversify their economies and adapt to the global energy revolutions.”

Economic Growth

GCC countries are forecast to deliver nearly 50 percent of the total GDP for all the Middle East and North Africa by 2015 – USD1.8 trillion of economic activity. Today the GCC delivers 60 percent (USD1.6 trillion) of all economic activity in the Middle East. The GCC could grow annually by 4 percent in real terms through to 2030. In the near term, GCC GDP will grow by 4.3 percent in 2014 and 4.5 percent in 2015.

Total trade (or merchandise trade) between the GCC and China grew to USD155 billion in 2012, which is 16 times larger than trade in 2001. Trade between the GCC and India rose 29 times to USD159 billion in 2012.

Bryan Plamondon, senior economist, IHS Global Insight, said: “The Middle East has looked to Asia in search of economic growth, taking advantage of its geostrategic position between East and West. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait will want to export more crude oil to Asia, forging closer links with Asia as they respond to the revival of US oil production. The energy-thirsty economies of China and India have become key trade partners for the GCC and wider Middle East, looking to Iran and Iraq for energy opportunities as well. But, future growth depends on how quickly the GCC countries can diversify and embrace Asia. They have been quick so far. We will see how it continues.”

“In addition to oil and gas, exports of petrochemicals, plastics and other goods to and from the GCC and Asia will increase in growing trade between the two regions in the next 10 years,” Plamondon added. “Development projects in the Gulf will spur the need for imports of machinery and equipment, transport, and infrastructure goods, opening the door for greater trade with Asian countries.”

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