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China and MENA states face long-term energy challenges

New research that evaluates worldwide energy security, has identified the G7 economies of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and USA as being at ‘high risk’ in the short-term, whilst China and countries from the oil producing MENA region are highlighted as facing increasing challenges in the future.

Risk analysis and mapping firm Maplecroft has undertaken the study of short-term and long-term energy security to highlight the risks to countries as they strive to secure stable energy supplies in a time of geopolitical upheaval, dwindling traditional resources and a transition to a low carbon world.

Over 100 nations at ‘extreme’ or ‘high risk’ in the short-term

The Energy Security (short-term) Index has been developed by Maplecroft to identify the countries most vulnerable to shocks in energy supplies and price fluctuations in the international market on timescale of days to months. It assesses immediate risks to the availability, affordability and continuity of energy supplies in 196 countries by evaluating energy imports, diversity of supplies, import security and energy costs.

Only three countries, Sierra Leone (1), Gambia (2) and Guinea Bissau (3), are categorised as ‘extreme risk’ in the short-term index. However, a further 122 nations are rated ‘high risk,’ including the G7 economies of Italy (13), Japan (73), UK (90), Germany (104), France (107) and the USA (112).

Maplecroft categorises seven countries as ‘low risk,’ with the last remaining G7 member, Canada (196), rated as having the world’s most stable short-term energy supplies. Its ranking reflects the fact that it is a net exporter of electricity and fossil fuels, with abundant natural resources and a diverse energy mix, which provides flexibility and offsets the risks of price rises. The remaining low risk countries are Australia (195), Malaysia (194), Indonesia (193), Russia (192), Saudi Arabia (191) and Norway (190).

MENA instability and Fukushima highlight short-term energy risks

Recent instability in the MENA region and the impact of increased crude oil prices has highlighted the dangers of an economy heavily dependent on imported fuels from a specific region. “Rising fuel prices in response to the political turmoil in the MENA region in early 2011 have shown that energy security is of paramount importance,” states Maplecroft CEO, Alyson Warhurst. “Many countries are greatly reliant on imported oil and gas from these regimes. In order to support economic growth and energy demands, they will need to diversify energy supplies by increasing import partners and expanding domestic production and renewable energy sources.”

Energy Security Risk (short-term) Index 2011

Energy Security Risk (short-term) Index 2011
Extreme risk
High risk
Medium risk
Low risk
No Data
Rank Country Rating
1 Sierra Leone Extreme
2 The Gambia Extreme
3 Guinea-Bissau Extreme
4 Cambodia High
5 Nepal High
Rank Country Rating
6 Nicaragua High
7 Sao Tome and Principe High
8 Afghanistan High
9 Burundi High
10 Benin High

For instance, the world’s second largest consumer of energy, the USA, rates as ‘high risk’ in the short-term, primarily because of the high imports of fossil fuels and electricity needed to support its colossal demand for energy. The largest percentage of US oil imports come from Middle Eastern countries - leaving the country at continual high risk of supply interruption and price shocks. In 2008, the US imported an average of 12.9 million barrels of oil per day, which represents 15.10% of world production in that year, with 23.36% coming from the MENA region

Japan’s short-term energy supply risks were highlighted by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, which severely damaged the country’s energy generation capacity and transmission ability. Large scale power outages and rationing were implemented in the short-term, whilst longer-term damage to nuclear reactors will continue to affect Japan’s energy security in both the short and long-term. This has prompted a shift towards renewable energy in the country, with Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, unveiling plans at the G8 summit in France last week, which aim to bring down by a third the cost of solar power generation by 2020 and to install solar panels in 10 million homes.

Countries offset long-term risks with unconventional energy sources

According to Maplecroft, unconventional oil and gas resources like shale gas, oil sands or deep water offshore drilling have the potential to significantly alter long-term supply and demand dynamics. The US, which has an estimated 862 trillion cubic feet of reserves of recoverable shale gas has begun producing significant amounts and could even become a gas exporter in the long-term. While the US is rated ‘high risk’ in the short-term index, it is ‘low risk’ in the long-term index (ranked 160 out of 171 countries), due in part to long-term plans for energy self-sufficiency.

Maplecroft’s Energy Security (long-term) Index calculates energy security risks over 20 to 50 years. It is based on current reserves and assesses likely future growth of energy use, fossil fuel production and consumption and diversity of current energy supply across 171 countries. The index is not a projection of future energy security but highlights the countries which are vulnerable to a reliance on a narrow range of diminishing energy sources.

China’s long-term risks linked to economic growth

According to the IEA International Energy Outlook, the global demand for energy will continue to increase in the foreseeable future, rising 49% from 2007 levels by 2035. This will be driven primarily by fast growing emerging economies that are characterised by burgeoning populations, rapid industrialisation and rising living standards. This is especially true of China (49), which rates as ‘high risk’ in Maplecroft’s Energy Security (long-term) Index.

Compared to the US, China is far more fossil fuel intensive and is now considered the world’s largest consumer of energy. Energy demands will also continue to rise quickly in line with its meteoric economic growth. In an attempt to offset this, China is set to develop unconventional energy resources such as shale gas and offshore drilling in the South China Sea, despite the environmental concerns.

“It is not surprising that the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill has not slowed the development of offshore exploration elsewhere around the world,” said Principal Risk Analyst at Maplecroft, Julia Coym. “Emerging economies are hoping to feed their growing energy demands through offshore finds. This is most apparent in Brazil, which is developing its offshore capabilities to exploit the huge deep water oil fields off its coast.”

MENA countries’ must diversify energy mix to support economic growth

Despite the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) holding 56% of the world’s proven oil reserves, the region is vulnerable in the long-term, with most countries rated ‘high risk’ by Maplecroft including: Egypt (ranked 31 out of 165), Morocco (41), Qatar (44), Saudi Arabia (45), Tunisia (53), Iran (55), Iraq (63), Kuwait (66) and UAE (79). Despite their high reserves, these countries are energy intense and face the risk of falling into a feedback cycle where high availability of fossil fuels drives demand until resources can no longer meet internal demand or reserves begin to dwindle.

Both energy security risk indices can be bought individually; providing access to the country scores, methodology, interactive maps and brief analysis. Alternatively, both can be purchased as a package contained in the Energy Security Risk Report, which offers all of the above, plus in-depth analysis of the key issues and countries. For more information contact or contact +44 (0)1225 420000.

Register for trial access to see examples of Maplecroft's indices, interactive maps, scorecards, briefings and in-depth reports.

Press enquiries:

Jason McGeown, Head of Communications
Tel: +44 (0)1225 420000

To find out more about Maplecroft’s country risk reports, briefings and election monitors

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