UAE energy minister says he does not expect or want a war

The UAE’s Minister of Energy Suhail al-Mazroui. (File photo: Reuters)

The UAE’s Minister of Energy Suhail al-Mazroui said on Wednesday that he does not expect or want a war in the Middle East.

The energy minister added that he was not worried about the energy supply that passes through the Strait of Hormuz being cut through Iranian tensions as it, “is not only important to us but it’s important for the world economy and Iran understands that.”

He added that, “Iran is a neighbor; we are very close to Iran … the last thing we want to see is more tensions in the Middle East.”

The energy minister’s comments came during the 10th Gulf Intelligence UAE Energy Forum 2020 held at NYU Abu Dhabi.

On the role that geopolitics play in effecting oil prices, the minister remarked that geopolitics have always played an important part but that in the “last few years geopolitics have played less of a role and market forces began to change forecasts.”

This dynamic is something that has changed with geopolitics taking a larger share of importance in changing market forecasts.

Over worries on supply al-Mazroui said that the UAE has always had some spare capacity, a mechanism that the UAE is building on “to cover any shortages in the world.”

“We will always make sure we supply with whatever it requires,” he added.

Al-Mazoui also shared his thoughts on the role that the US has to play in the Middle Eastern geopolitical scene. “I think peace in the Middle East is one of the areas that the US is keen on, they helped fight terrorism, the US … has been positive in ensuring we don’t have extremism … and the fight against ISIS and others.”

“I don’t think the US wants to become more aggressive in the Middle East, but there is a power that is trying to go beyond its borders and trying to expand and that is not fair,” he said.

The minister concluded his remarks by noting that Asia and Africa are going to be the major focus for UAE energy, with the country offering partnerships with its customers as a significant differentiator to other suppliers.

Al-Mazoui attended the conference as tensions in the Middle East ramp up. Oil prices spiked following the assassination of Iranian Qassem Soleimani, a commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – Quds Force, by a US drone strike on Friday.

Iran responded to the death of Soleimani in the early hours of Wednesday, launching more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq.

“We are working on initial battle damage assessments. In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners. These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region,” a statement from Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman said.

Any rise in geopolitical tensions will affect energy prices as investors look to price in any potential production delays.

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