The Arab energy sector has played and will continue to play an important role in the regional as well as global economy. In addition to satisfying energy needs for economic and social development, it is the source of oil and gas export revenues contributing to economic development. The Arab oil and gas sector represents the largest economic sector in the region. Increase of oil revenues were the main drivers for economic development in most of the Arab oil producing countries.
Due to the remarkable recent increases of the oil prices and the escalated levels of oil production in some Arab countries, the Arab oil revenues have witnessed a parallel unprecedented growth. The Arab economies, as well, are heavily dependent on oil and gas to meet their domestic energy demand. Oil contributes about 53.6 % of the total demand and the share of gas represents about 43.9 %, while other resources such as hydro power, coal, and renewable resources represent only about 2 %
The energy sector in the Arab word has been struggling in recent years to find ways to tackle existing and anticipated shortfalls in resources and investments. In many cases, the efficiency of energy production and consumption patterns in the region requires improvement. Though the per capita energy consumption in the GCC sub-region are among the world’s top list, more than 40 percent of the Arab population in rural and urban poor areas do not have adequate access to energy services. It is also noted that almost one-fifth of the Arab population relies on non-commercial fuels for different energy uses.
Energy Consumption in Arab Countries in 2003
- The average primary energy consumption reached 1196 kgoe per capita, compared to the world average of 1523 kgoe. Wide disparities exist in the levels of energy consumption within and between Arab countries.
- The average electricity consumption reached 1445 kwh per capita regionally, compared to the world average of 2271 kwh per capita, and
- The average primary energy intensity in the region is 0.51 kgoe per US$ compared to a world average of 0.27 kgoe, reflecting the low economic returns on energy consumption in the region
Electricity Consumption in Arab Countries in 2005
- Installed capacity in 2005 was 124 GW compared with 13 GW in 1975.
- Electricity consumption in 2005 was 480,000 GWh (480 TWh) compared with 22,000 GWh (22 TWh) in 1975.
- Half of the installed capacity exists in Arab Gulf countries.
- Population in 2005 was 313 million compared to 140 million in 1975.
- Annual per capita consumption increased from 160 KWh in 1975 to 1530 kWh in 2005.
Relying heavily on fossil fuels, it is evident that the current trends in the Arab energy sector are unsustainable. The move towards achieving the objectives of energy for sustainable development requires policies and measures to address such problems, while maintaining the effective contribution of the sector to the region’s prosperity.
Since 1992, Arab countries have been moving towards the sustainability of the energy sector to achieve the goals and targets relevant to the key energy issues. Several Arab declarations have been issued in recent years emphasizing concerns and commitment of regional powers to achieve sustainable development. Some progress has bee achieved; however, more steps are required to achieve the desired objectives.