In September 2019 the world’s most important oil facility, the Abqaiq processing plant in Saudi Arabia, was attacked, briefly disrupting nearly 8 percent of global supplies and raising benchmark prices. The Saudi government accused Iran of perpetrating the attacks, exacerbating tensions within the Middle East and among the United States and its regional partners. The event and its aftermath underscored the political fragility of the region and the risks it can still pose to oil markets. At the same time, however, the market’s rapid recovery demonstrated that U.S. and other suppliers were robust enough to compensate for lost Saudi production, suggesting that the geopolitical importance of the region could be changing.
On November 6th, EPIC and The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts convened a conversation about energy geopolitics and their economic implications, with a specific focus on the lessons learned from the Abqaiq attack. The event featured Robert McNally, the president of The Rapidan Group and a former senior director for international energy at the White House National Security Council; Suzanne Maloney, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director for Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution; and Harris Public Policy Professor Ryan Kellogg, an EPIC affiliated scholar who studies the economics of oil markets. The event was moderated by Robinson Meyer, EPIC’s Visiting Fellow in Journalism and a reporter for The Atlantic.