The impact of America’s shale gas “revolution” is good news for the oil-rich, gas-short Middle East, experts agreed at London Business School’s Energy Insights Forum.
The US is fast becoming energy self-sufficient through shale gas and looks set to become a significant net exporter of natural gas within the next decade. While the American abundance of natural gas may be seen by some as a threat, it also presents opportunities for Middle East talent in the energy sector.
In the United States, shale gas is dramatically boosting economic development, adding an estimated $ 300 billion to US GDP by increasing employment opportunities and reviving its manufacturing industry. Recruitment experts now predict a talent exchange between the Middle East and the United States.
“The region will become an exporter of talent,” said Danny Leinders, senior client partner, Korn Ferry International. “We will now move talent from the region into North America as the demand for energy expertise grows over there.”
Recruitment experts also noted that energy companies will place increasing importance on talent with a specialism in certain departments.
Leinders added: “The push in renewable energy in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia in particular has seen the formation of entirely new organizations. This presents new job roles for both locals and expats.”
As the global pattern of energy supply and demand shifts as a result of US shale gas, experts at the forum also noted that the Middle East now has the opportunity to reassess its own energy policy.
In his keynote presentation, Harry Bradbury, chairman of Five Quarter Energy, said: “The Middle East should first address what is happening locally before fretting about America. Middle East players should consider what routes they can take to guarantee gas supply. There is a need for greater manufacturing opportunities here, and technology, which is an enabler.”
Eduardo van-Zeller Neto, principal at Boston Consulting Group, said: “Without intervention, domestic energy demand will likely double over the next decade. A larger availability of gas will contribute to a more efficient use of hydrocarbons in the region.”
Robin Mills, head of consulting at Manaar Energy Consulting and Project Management, said: “It is high time for the region to set the correct commercial incentives for private-sector and international investment into gas — and that includes the right pricing.”
Mounir Bouaziz, VP, Upstream International Commercial MENA at Shell, said: “Ultimately, while the reserves are big, there is a regional gas shortage of 50 billion cubic meters per year. Global gas abundance in the world is good news for the Middle East. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is the fastest and most flexible way of linking the resource base to big demand centers.”
The experts were speaking to an audience of students enrolled on London Business School’s Executive MBA program, together with alumni, recruiters and partners.
Energy Insights was the latest in a series of thought-leadership forums organised by London Business School at the Dubai International Financial Centre, where the School has its Middle East headquarters.