Libya’s Role in the Global Energy Transition

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The north-African country has a significant potential to diversify its energy mix while adhering to worldwide commitments to a global energy transition

Tripoli, Libya: Day two of the Libya Energy & Economic Summit 2021, held in Tripoli on 23 November, featured a virtual presentation by Michael Curran, Head of Carbon for Dutch energy and commodities trader, Vitol, who discussed Libya’s renewables potential, the diversification of its energy mix, and the role that the northern African country will play in the global energy transition.

As one of the major oil- and gas-producing countries in The Middle East and North Africa, Libya’s energy sector has been heavily dependent on the production of fossil fuels. However, due to its abundant natural resources, particularly solar, the north-African country has a significant potential to diversify its energy mix while adhering to worldwide commitments to a global energy transition.

Speaking through a virtual platform from Geneva, Switzerland, Curran identified his views – from an international and an African perspective – on Libya’s energy transition and what are effective opportunities and risks linked with carbon markets. Noting three primary takeaways from the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference as the reversal of coal, forestry land management, and the global commitment to carbon emission reductions, he identified Libya’s potential to contribute to the energy transition by exploiting its vast land area, available resources, and space for renewable energy.

Curran noted carbon credit – a permit representing the right to emit greenhouse gases – as being a key opportunity for oil-rich nations to benefit from global sustainable development goals (SDGs).

“A key takeaway from what we have been seeing recently is that the private sector is not waiting for governments and regulators to make the decisions in terms of how they are allocating capital, allocating risks, and allocating investments.” Curran stated, noting that access to these decisions is in danger of being restrained going forward. “There is a new asset class coming that Africa will be able to benefit from, which is an opportunity to create carbon credits, in-country, and then to export them.”

With the potential to become a powerful emerging economy in the region, a key opportunity for Libya is to benefit from international markets and to assure that the country’s energy sector is aligned with current and future SDGs, noted Curran, concluding that, the energy transition offers the potential for Libya to give life back to its land while promoting socio-economic growth.