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“Lower oil prices should give way to reforms” argues economist Nasser Saidi

NASSER SAIDIDr. Nasser Saidi, the former Chief Economist for Dubai International Financial Centre (2006-12), has argued that “the drop in oil price provides the ‘Perfect Storm’ opportunity for policy reforms.”

With the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) facing both the pressure of lower oil and export revenues as well as a loss of competitiveness due to the appreciating US dollar, Nasser outlines how they should adjust to the new paradigm of low oil prices:

  1. Avoid pro-cyclical fiscal policies.
  2. Remove fuel subsidies and shift spending to productive investments.
  3. Diversify the sources of government revenue.
  4. Run budget deficits.

Noting the current situation as an historic opportunity, Nasser concludes by saying that “the collapse of oil prices should be used by GCC countries to undertake economic and fiscal reforms that could simultaneously lead to diversification of government revenue, reduce dependence on oil revenue, help develop local financial markets and remove distortions to production and consumption resulting from oil subsidies. The starting point should be to abolish oil and gas subsidies.”

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For more information on how to book Nasser Saidi as a speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

TED speaker Matt Ridley: “You don’t own the land 300m below your feet”

Matt Ridley speakerCommenting on the issue of drilling for shale gas, Matt Ridley, British journalist and author of “The Rational Optimist”, has argued in his latest Times opinion piece that householders can’t be allowed to hold up underground energy projects.

Matt points out that the “world is bedevilled by problems caused by lack of private property rights, but it is also bedevilled by problems caused by too much property ownership.” He goes on to say that “it was to prevent just such ownership gridlock that the government long ago established that individual landowners could not stop canals, railways, roads, sewers, water pipes or even coal mines going through, over or under their properties, so long as they were compensated for any harm done.”

Consequently, Matt argues that if “somebody is going to take the expensive trouble to drill through miles of rock, and have no discernible effect on your garden above, then you should no more have the right to prosecute him for trespass than you do to prosecute an airliner flying thousands of feet above your garden or a car driving past on a motorway a mile away.”

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For information on Matt’s speaking availability, please contact our Managing Partner, Leo von Bülow-Quirk, at or call +44 (0) 20 7792 8000

“The West’s utopians damned Ukraine to Russian dominance” – John Hulsman

In his latest posting as Senior Columnist for London’s City A.M. newspaper, John Hulsman wrote on how we got to where we are in Ukraine (read: mistakes the West made with regards to the on-going crisis), and how to best Putin in the end.

John argues that the West’s world-view betrayed a total ignorance of the realities of geopolitics; Ukraine is not a primary Western interest, whereas Putin was prepared to risk a lot to achieve an end state wherein Kiev remained within the Russian sphere of influence. John adds that to “see the crisis as it is means accepting the notion that interests primarily guide a state’s foreign policy.” Crucially, Western utopian policymakers were unable to do this. 

That Ukraine will remain within the Russian sphere of influence is undoubted, however there is a way to win this contest in the long run. John points out that Russia needs the price of oil to be roughly $110 a barrel to balance its budget; it is already falling south of that, with long-term futures markets pointing to prices heading to well under $100. He goes on to say that the West needs ensure that this happens through “lifting the ban on the export of American oil…[and] encouraging the Poles and British to open up the shale industry.”

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Shale gas hits the headlines

Two days before our Breakfast Panel on ‘The Energy Revolution’, iGas has announced that the companies holdings in north-west England contain between 15-170 trillion cubic feet of shale gas, far more than previously expected.

Allister Heath writing for City A.M. suggests the opportunity comparable to North Sea oil and that Britian should embrace the resource and develop it rapidly.

Look out for our write up on tomorrows panel for further ideas on what to do about this new resource.

Read Allister’s article here:

Future of Energy: talking with Simon Wright

It was a pleasure to sip coffee and talk the future of energy with Simon Wright last week. Simon is Energy and Commodities correspondent for The Economist, and author of the paper’s recent Special Report on the impact of unconventional sources of natural gas. Our conversation ranged from shale gas in the US (looking good) and Eastern Europe (a political fiasco), to the future of Big Oil (not bright, in his view). It was fascinating to hear his take on the dynamics shaping the global energy and commodities markets – not only the cutting edge businesses and technologies, but also the political contexts in which they operate.

To find out more about Simon Wright, or to book him as a speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

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