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Energy and natural resources:
new opportunities?
The world economy depends largely on fossil fuel (more than 75% of global
energy consumption). During the 20th century global consumption of fossil
fuel grew by an annual average of 2 per cent.
Oil prices soared to US$150 a barrel in May 2008, Electricity is poised to play an even larger part
then the financial crisis and lack of liquidity sent in global energy over the next 25 years.

them into free fall, plunging to US$40 a barrel in the last three decades roughly three-quarters
early 2009.

Yet oil prices will certainly bounce of all electricity was generated using fossil fuel.
back as soon as the economy recovers. The real There are now several projects to increase sus-
problem is the existing crude oil reserves with tainable electricity production. The Mediter-
rising consumption of fossil fuel, stalled oil out- ranean Solar Plan (MSP), which aims to pro-
put and production capacities unchanged. Some duce solar energy in southern Mediterranean
analysts, using King Hubbert’s model for calculat- countries and export it to Europe, is attracting
ing the performance of oil production, estimate growing attention, notably at the IV Europe-
that we are near – or even past – peak oil, in other Mediterranean Energy Forum in Barcelona,
words maximum capacity for oil extraction. 11–13 March 2009. The MSP offers a way of ad-
dressing increasing European energy demand
Two North African countries – Algeria and Libya while developing sustainable energy technolo-
– exert considerable influence over European en- gies in North Africa.
More than 100 projects
ergy markets. Algeria has proven oil reserves of have already been submitted to the MSP, pav-
12 000 million barrels. Libya has 41 000 million. ing the way for greater cooperation between
Libya’s share of the European energy market will Europe, the Middle East and North Africa on
probably increase in coming years, as it plans to technology and energy. Furthermore European
increase oil output from 1 800 million to 3 000 officials are in contact with the US administra-
million barrels by 2013. In 2007 38 per cent of tion and the World Bank to improve coordina-
Italian, 19 per cent of German, and 8 per cent of tion between the MSP and the US Department
Spanish oil imports come from Libya.

Algerian of Energy’s solar programme.

natural gas reserves are the eighth largest in the
world. Algeria has discussed forming a natu- Another important factor is access to natural
ral-gas cartel, along similar lines to OPEC, with resources. For example, Morocco controls at
Russia, Iran and Qatar.
It has also developed, least two-thirds of the world’s rock phosphate
in collaboration with major multinationals such reserves, which explains its significance in the
as BP and Statoil, a system for re-injecting CO
global economy. According to the US Geological
extracted from natural gas underground.

The Survey there is no substitute for rock phosphate
economy of both Algeria and Libya is heavily de- in agriculture. With biofuel demand increasing
pendent on world hydrocarbon prices, with oil steadily, and world food shortages hitting the
and gas accounting for almost all exports: Alge- headlines, rock phosphate is arguably as glo-
ria (98%), Libya (95%).
bally significant as oil.

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