Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), did not mince words when she addressed Arab oil ministers in Abu Dhabi on 21 December. The Middle East’s oil producers should take advantage of lower crude oil prices now to phase out costly energy subsidies or miss a golden opportunity to stop burning their oil and gas for power generation, she said.

Oil prices have sunk to a five year low since peaking at $115/B for Brent futures in mid-June 2014. This makes the impact on consumers of cutting energy subsidies in the Arab oil producing states much less painful. “All of you in this room know very well that the (oil) price will rise again. It’s an inevitable cycle…Once prices rise, the opportunity to phase out fossil fuel subsidies will disappear,” Ms van der Hoeven said at the Arab oil ministers’ gathering in the UAE capital. (CONTINUED - 1576 WORDS)