Middle East and North Africa Energy

Navigating uncertainties - politics, markets, reforms and investment

23 Jan 2017 - 09:30 to 24 Jan 2017 - 13:30
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Chatham House, London

A climate of uncertainty confronts the political and economic leaders in the Middle East and North Africa. Persistent lower oil prices, an increasingly competitive global oil market, regional power dynamics, continued security threats and the need to pursue difficult economic reforms present a combination of strategic and systemic challenges. This year’s annual Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Energy conference will address these issues and the political developments, market variables, reform agendas and investment opportunities that will shape the future of the region.

The Chatham House Rule 
To enable as open a debate as possible, this conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule.

Suggested hashtag: #CHMenaEnergy


Register by Friday 25 November 2016 to benefit from the early booking rate.

For any questions about which rate applies to you, please call Alex Cook on +44 (0)207 957 5727



Major corporate members    
All organizations£545£654£645£774
Standard corporate members    
Commercial organizations£1,190£1,428£1,390£1,668
Government departments£720£864£820£984
NGOs and academics£440£528£540£648
Commercial organizations£1,335£1,602£1,535£1,842 
Government departments£810£972£920£1,104
NGOs and academics£490£588£595


Monday 23 January

Overview | Geopolitics, Markets and the MENA Region

This opening discussion will consider the political and market contexts and how they affect MENA energy producing and exporting countries; exploring ways in which the region can effectively navigate through an environment of uncertainties.

  • How will international political developments affect strategic relationships and power balances within the MENA region? What will the new US administration mean for US-Middle East relations?
  • What is the outlook for world oil markets? How might geopolitical factors affect the market’s ability to align oil production and demand?
  • Will increased non-OPEC production and the potential re-emergence of Iran create a more dynamic, unpredictable oil market?
  • What would be the longer-term economic effects of a lower oil price equilibrium? How able are MENA producers to adapt and succeed in a slow recovery and increasingly competitive oil market?
  • What is expected to happen to oil demand in the context of developments such as the Paris Agreement at COP 21? How can national and international oil companies adapt accordingly?
  • To what extent has investment in the MENA region by international oil companies (IOCs) been affected by market and political uncertainties?

Session One | Political Economy, Diversification and the Reform Agenda in the Middle East

In the context of subdued forecasts for global growth, continued security risks and long-established social contracts, what options are open to the Middle East’s oil and gas exporting countries to reform their economies? This session will focus on the choices and challenges for the region’s leaders.

  • Are the political economy reforms currently being enacted having the desired effect? How can policy-makers overcome the structural barriers to delivering politically difficult economic reforms?
  • How successful have policy adjustments and austerity measures been in narrowing budget shortfalls?
  • To what extent has spending on social projects continued as expected or has the oil price had an effect on this?
  • How can reforms attract inward investment into potential growth sectors in the Middle East?
  • What are the risks for political stability should reforms be carried out too quickly? Are there sufficient means to cushion citizens from the effects of fiscal reforms?
  • To what degree are younger populations and women in the Middle East on board with the reform agenda?

Spotlight discussion: Moving beyond oil in Saudi Arabia

  • How are Saudi Arabia’s energy and oil policies likely to evolve under new ministerial arrangements and can it continue its policy of prioritizing oil market share over prices?
  • How can the Vision 2030 reforms and the National Transformation Programme deliver diversification and achieve long-term economic change? How does the proposed part-privatisation of Saudi Aramco fit into this course of action?
  • How has the pace of the reforms affected their potential for success? Are reforms going too far or not far enough? What does success look like?

Session Two | Regional Opportunities, Realities and Expectations

This session will focus on commercial opportunities in two of the regions underdeveloped oil and gas exporters with major production potential – Iran and Iraq, including developments since the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme, and hopes for the energy sector in Iraq.

Spotlight discussion: Iraq

  • How can Iraq push through its ambitious oil and gas plans? Can it continue to increase production growth as its oil-sales revenues decline?

Spotlight discussion: Iran

  • To what extent are relations between Iran and the West improving? What openings may emerge for international investment?
  • In the current geopolitical and oil price environment what is the appetite among IOCs and financiers to invest in Iran?

Session Three | Energy Investment Outlook

Against a backdrop of cuts to global oil and gas investment, the MENA region has continued to invest heavily across the energy value chain. This moderated discussion will assess energy investments across the region, the prospects for the upstream oil and gas sector, renewable energy projects to meet rising power demand, and emerging opportunities.

  • What is the investment outlook for upstream oil and gas in the MENA region? How is this affected by concerns over the stability of demand and the risks of prolonged lower oil prices?
  • Which are the countries in the MENA region that are leading the investment drive, and which are best placed to benefit in the event of price rises?
  • Is there an opportunity for natural gas to significantly develop while transitions within renewables and energy efficiency progress? What structural impact might this have on energy markets?
  • How can economic opportunities offered by renewable energy in the region be maximized? What role does the regional energy market and pricing mechanisms have on this development?

1745 Close of day one and reception hosted by Chatham House

Tuesday 24 January

Session Four | Risks, Instability and Security

This session will focus on the campaign against violent extremism in the MENA region, the effectiveness of current approaches and the threat posed by systemic violence to the region’s energy sector.

  • What is the security outlook across the MENA region? How is the threat posed by extremism and terrorism likely to evolve in the region and beyond? What do developments in global security and military power balances mean for regional security?
  • How are efforts to build effective resistance to Islamic State (IS) faring? What are the limitations of an IS-centric approach to counterterrorism and combating Islamist extremism?
  • What is the role of energy in IS’s strategy? What are the key points of vulnerability for the region’s energy sector and what impact has the security situation had on the oil sector?
  • What does the interlocking nature of security crises and conflicts mean for the future of regional security in the Middle East?
  • What role should Asian countries with an increasing stake in the Middle East have in supporting security efforts in the region?

Session Five | North Africa and the East Mediterranean

This session will assess the prospects for further development in North Africa’s upstream sector, and what recent agreements in the neighbouring Eastern Mediterranean may mean for expanding gas production from new supply sources.

  • What can be learned from the speed of progress following the Zohr gas discovery in Egypt? What are the decision-making obstacles present in other countries that Egypt was able to overcome?
  • How can Libya overcome restrictions on oil production and exports and revive its hydrocarbons sector in the face of continued instability and security problems?
  • What are the risks and potential benefits of Lebanon establishing a national oil company and at what stage could it be most beneficial?
  • Following the signing of the framework agreement between Turkey and Israel, how might recent political developments in Turkey affect the potential for further progress?
  • Can Algeria attract the necessary international investment and continue to revive its oil and gas 

1300 End of conference and lunch

© The Royal Institute of International Affairs 2016


Dr Falah Alamri to speak at the MENA Energy 2016 conference

Dr Falah Jassim Alamri

Director General, State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO), Iraq

Samer AlAshgar to speak at the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Energy 2017 conference

Samer AlAshgar

President, King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre

Dr Hend Alsheikh

Director General, Women Branch at Institute of Public Administration, ‎Institute of Public Administration, Saudi Arabia

Mohammed Barkindo to speak at the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa 2017 conference

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo

Secretary General, OPEC

Sara Bazoobandi, Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House

Sara Bazoobandi

Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House

Tim Callen speaking at Chatham House MENA Economies 2015 conference

Tim Callen

Mission Chief to Saudi Arabia, International Monetary Fund

Claudio Descalzi to speak at Chatham House MENA Energy 2016 conference

Claudio Descalzi

CEO, Eni

Bassam Fattouh to speak at the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Energy 2017 conference

Dr Bassam Fattouh

Director, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies

Nasser Hadian to speak at the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Energy 2017 conference

Nasser Hadian

Professor of Political Science, University of Tehran

Lina Khatib to speak at the Chatham House Europe and its Neighbourhood conference

Lina Khatib

Head, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House

HE Dr Ali Majedi

Ambassador to Germany, Islamic Republic of Iran and Deputy Oil Minister of International Affairs (2013-14)

Abbas Maleki to speak at Chatham House MENA Energy 2016 conference

Abbas Maleki

Associate Professor of Energy Policy, Sharif University of Technology, and Deputy Foreign Minister (1988-1997), Iran

Dr Edward Morse to speak at Chatham House MENA Energy 2016 conference

Dr Edward Morse

Global Head of Commodities, Research, Citigroup

Mustafa Sanallah to speak at Chatham House MENA Energy 2016 conference

Mustafa Sanallah

Chairman, National Oil Corporation, Libya

Professor Paul Stevens

Professor Paul Stevens

Distinguished Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources, Chatham House

Wissam Zahabi to speak at the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Energy 2017 conference

Wissam Zahabi

Chairman of the Board, Lebanese Petroleum Administration

Crescent Petroleum to sponsor the Chatham House MENA Energy 2017 conference

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for this event, please contact
Amy Wevill on +44 (0) 20 7957 5732. 

African Energy and Gulf States News to partner with Chatham House on the MENA Energy 2016 conference

Gulf State News to partner with Chatham House on the Middle East and North Africa Energy 2016 conference

Interfax to partner with Chatham House on the Middle East and North Africa Energy 2017 conference

Menas Associates to partner with Chatham House on the MENA Energy 2017 conference

MEES Media Partner of MENA Energy 2016 conference

Oxford Strategic Consulting to partner with Chatham House on the Middle East and North Africa Energy 2016 conference

If you are interested in becoming a media partner for this event, please contact
Amy Smith on +44 (0)20 7957 5755 


Chatham House
10 St James's Square
[email protected]

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7314 2785
Fax: +44 (0)20 7957 5710

If you wish to book the venue for your own event please phone +44 (0)20 7314 2764

The nearest tube station is Piccadilly Circus which is on the Piccadilly and the Bakerloo Underground lines. From Piccadilly follow Regent Street southwards towards Pall Mall and take the first road on the right called Jermyn Street. Duke of York Street is the second road on the left and leads to St James's Square. Chatham House is immediately on your right.


Although we cannot book accommodation for delegates, we have arranged a reduced rate at some nearby hotels, where you can book your own accommodation. Please inform the hotel that you will be attending a conference at Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs) to qualify for the Institute's reduced rate.

Please note all rates are subject to availability.

Flemings Mayfair
Half Moon Street
London - W1J 7BH

Tel: + 44 (0)20 7499 2964
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7499 1817

Standard Single from £195 + VAT

The Cavendish London
81 Jermyn Street
London - SW1Y 6JF

Tel: + 44 (0)20 7930 2111
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7839 2125

Standard Single £205 + VAT

Book The Cavendish online

The Stafford London 
St James's Place
London - SW1A 1NJ

Tel: 020 7518 1125
Fax: 020 7493 7121

Standard Single £235 +VAT

The Savoy London
London - WC2R 0EU

Tel: 020 7836 4343
Fax: 020 7240 6040 

Standard Single £250 +VAT

This conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule. Information for journalists.

Press can request a press pass.