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The future of the energy industry in the United Arab Emirates is bright and will reach new heights in the future, the oil minister of the UAE, Suhail Al Mazrouei has said.
At an event titled “Charting the Future of the UAE’s Energy Sector”, Al Mazrouei said that the UAE had ambitious goals in low-carbon energy and was seeking to engage partners both at home and abroad to advance the country’s ambitions.
The UAE is the third-largest producer in OPEC, along with Kuwait, after Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Although traditionally a staunch ally of the OPEC de facto leader, recent media reports have suggested relations between the two countries have cooled.
One specific report, by the Wall Street Journal, from earlier this month caused a splash as it suggested the UAE was having “an internal debate” about leaving OPEC. Although quickly denied by the Emirates, the report’s implication that the leader of OPEC and its second-in-command were having disagreements remained.
It was later reinforced with another WSJ report that focused on the political differences between OPEC and regional partners. The report noted competition had increased between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi over attracting foreign investments, as has their rivalry on international oil markets.
The two no longer saw eye to eye on Yemen, too, the report noted—a sign of a deepening divide between the two countries. According to unnamed sources, the UAE had made attempts to ease the tension but unsuccessfully.
“Up until a few years ago, this sort of division and openly pursuing objectives that are counter to what their brothers are pursuing was unheard of. Now it’s becoming increasingly normal,” International Crisis Group senior adviser for the Middle East and North Africa, Dina Esfandiary, told the WSJ.
If the trend continues, it would suggest that the UAE’s energy future will be decoupled from Saudi Arabia’s, even as the two remain partners in OPEC.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com