This workshop offers an independent open discussion platform to focus on the abovementioned challenges facing the export of oil and gas from the GCC. The workshop
would consist of a series of short presentations on the proposed theme and related topics.
We invite high-quality publishable papers around 8,500 words long.
The proposed topics should concentrate on the following three main dimensions:
1. The global dimension – implications of shale oil and gas on the GCC
The major role of the GCC countries in petroleum exports refers to their large domestic
resources which have been cost-efficiently exploited. However, new development
technologies and unconventional energy sources have made oil and gas exploitation
outside OPEC and the Gulf beneficial as well. Thus, the GCC countries require new,
innovative business models in order to keep their dominant position in the petroleum
In fact, shale oil and shale gas production outside GCC have been challenging both the
Gulf market share and global market prices and consequently the revenues of the rentier
states. Shale oil and gas production are mostly located within the consuming markets and
demand centers. Many petroleum importing countries have become exporters or at least
self-sufficient, as a result of rising shale oil and gas production.
Where is this shale revolution heading and how is it affected by the fluctuating oil prices?
How will the GCC countries face these big challenges which could ultimately shake the
base of their economies?
Most of the GCC countries, if not all, heavily rely on the revenues from oil and gas
exports in order to guarantee their national welfare systems. A sustained price decrease,
caused by increased competition or energy surpluses resulting from growing
unconventional sources, would trigger major financial and political crises in the region.
In contrast, a rapid increase in petroleum prices, due to certain (OPEC) regulations or
other limitations of energy supply, could lead to calls for technology substitution and,
therefore, reduce the demand for petroleum in the longterm.
At the same time, developments in unconventional exploration technologies in many
parts of the world may make the exploitation of shale oil and gas in the GCC more
attractive and thus extend their energy sources. Indeed, the fast growing shale production
in North America has achieved cost reductions, which may turn GCC unconventional oil
and gas resources competitive as well. The development of unconventional resources in
the GCC would not only extend their overall potential, but would allow the region as a
whole to become more self-sufficient, at least in natural gas.
2. The regional dimension – expected strong return of Iran
The major regional and perhaps global event in 2015 was the July nuclear agreement
between Iran and the P5+1 Group, which made a strong return of the Islamic Republic to
the international arena possible. In the oil and gas sector, after over a decade of sanctions,
Tehran lost a large part of its international oil market share to other OPEC countries, even
as it was unable to exploit its huge gas reserves, the second largest in the world..
Now, the international oil companies and Tehran are both keen to work together with the
aim to revive and expand the country’s oil and gas capacities. Such a development would
most probably affect global oil and gas supply and push the prices further down.
While this price and revenue issue is crucial for the GCC, the Arab Gulf countries are
also worried about the impact on the world market of a larger Iranian oil production
which would affect their market share. as well as theThey are also concerned about the
possible impact of efforts to develop the country’s gas resources.
More importantly, the GCC feels that the strong return of Iran on the global scene,
including in the oil and gas market, would ultimately lead to a weakening of the strategic
significance of its member countries, a decline already felt as a result of the shale
revolution in North America and many other parts of the world.
3. The domestic dimension – increasing local demand challenges export levels
Historically, the GCC oil and gas industry held a major share of the global energy supply
potential and still contributes significantly to meet the worldwide petroleum demand.
However, the oil and gas industry in the Gulf is, to a large extent, publicly owned and
thus needs to represent the interests of the countries and populations. However, the low
domestic prices for petroleum products in the region have led to a growing local demand,
which has cut into export capabilities and revenues.
Thus, a major task of this workshop is to discuss how the GCC countries can deal with
the dilemma of supplying their citizens with cheap petroleum products which has created
an increase in domestic demand and a subsequent decline in export potential. There has
been a clear and growing loss in export and revenue opportunities over the years.
Cost benefit analyses could also be envisaged in order to point out the effectiveness of
energy efficiency measures in the GCC and whether such measures have resulted in
reducing domestic oil and gas demand and keeping exports on the current high level
without committing additional, more expensive resources.