L’Observatoire Méditerranéen de l’Energie (OME)
In Paris, on 14 December 2011, I had the privilege to take part in the inaugural presentation of the flagship publication from the OME : «Mediterranean Energy Perspectives 2011» (MEP 2011).
The OME is private non profit organisation created in 1988 and incorporated in 1991 which groups about 30 of the largest energy companies from the 14 Mediterranean countries. The mission of the OME is acting as a gathering platform to promote Regional dialogue and cooperation on energy issues and has become the think tank of reference for energy in the Mediterranean.
Energy cooperation around the Mediterranean was the topic of the Parliamentary conference organised by the EEF on 6 and 7 December 1996 in Catania, Sicily-Italy
Since then, the EEF has developed its contacts with the OME and is looking into organising a second special event dedicated to the Mediterranean. I already touched upon this subject in my editorials of March 2009 and February 2011. The political changes in several States around the Mediterranean led us to consider the organisation of a dialogue on energy issues.
Mediterranean Energy Perspectives 2011 (MEP 2011)
Overall energy demand is spurred by economic and population growth, especially in Southern Mediterranean countries. Prospects for the Mediterranean depend largely on the policies and measures authorities will put on place in order to manage this thriving energy demand.
Without strong efficiency measures and increased efforts to deploy renewable energy sources (RES), over the next two decades Mediterranean energy demand could increase by 40% further burdening the region in terms of import dependence and exacerbating environmental concerns: an unsustainable and costly path.
While Mediterranean energy demand is, and will remain, heavily dependent on fossil fuels, efficiency measures and further deployment of renewable sources could bring the import dependence of the region down to a quarter of the energy mix from nearly half today and the South could double its export potential.
Water scarcity is looming in the region. There is urgency for better water management measures and for new sources (water desalination) to avoid a major crisis in the long term. However, water desalination requires large amounts of energy, which would burden the energy demand further.
While European nations are developing energy resources within their own borders, there is increasing interest to import natural gas and oil from Mediterranean producers and to tap into the South’s vast undeveloped solar and wind resource potential. Today the direct energy links between the South and North shores are for hydrocarbons but grand schemes are under consideration to develop large-scale electricity inter-connections that could lead to a Mediterranean Ring power cool.
Although it is too early to determine how the striking political changes and the financial crisis will influence energy matters, efforts to reduce subsidies, strengthen infrastructures, expand trade and open markets to investors would have a significant impact on the energy landscape in the years ahead. (MEP 2011 is a 300 pages publication by the OME. Another more detailed book presents the energy perspectives in Egypt)