Valdai Club Discusses Main Trends And Scenarios Of Global Energy Development
Moscow, Valdai Discussion Club Conference Hall

On April 19, 2016,the Valdai Club hosted a discussion about the implications of the Doha summit on world stability and the oil market. 

The discussion was moderated by Ivan Timofeev, Programme director of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club. He posed several questions before the panel, namely what is behind the oil price slump, and key drivers, which could affect future changes.

According to Stephan C. Roh, President and CEO of ILS Energy, a key issue has been the lack of demand for oil, which has led to a certain destabilization of the world geopolitically. However, the Doha summit has not been able to reach any sort of agreement because of key differences among the players.

“The trend is that everyone is fighting for himself alone, so at the moment we have no agreement on the operate level, or even on the wider level,” Roh said.

Joseph Mifsud, Director of the University of Stirling’s London Academy of Diplomacy, said that it is important to look at the failure of the Doha meeting in terms of the disagreements between Iranian and Saudi Arabian interests, in particular, Syria and Yemen.

He noted that it is possible for Russia to work with both Iran and Saudi Arabia to bridge their differences and work toward a comprehensive oil output agreement.

“I think it is possible, I think the voice is perhaps timid and muted, but there is a role for the Russian Federation,” Mifsud said.

Igor Tomberg, senior research fellow at the Center for Energy Studies of the Moscow-based Institute of World Economy and International Relations, noted that Russia has not been as harmed by the threat of loss of investments in the oil exploration sector because of the ruble’s devaluation. 

He noted that Russia has typically remained neutral in negotiations with OPEC, and that the United States’ influence could also impact the attempt at negotiations.

He added that he does not see Iran as a significant enough hurdle in the negotiations because its goals for production increases are relatively small, compared to total world oil output.

However, Iran’s goals have led all other countries to turn against it, he said. 

During the question and answer session, Mifsud noted that there is a great diversity of views on energy across the European Union, which has made it look inwardly, instead of outwardly, creating an opportunity for Russia in the Middle East.

Mifsud added that few European pipeline projects in Europe have been activated, and that many internal factors, such as the Brexit referendum, the migration deal with Turkey and disagreements among major EU subgroups have to be taken into account.

When it came to the Chinese Silk Road project, Roh said that the issue of instability in Afghanistan could make it difficult for pipelines such as TAPI to succeed.