The energy sector is one of the main contributors to development at the economic and social levels. Hydrocarbon resources play an important role in the development and economic growth for countries with large reserves of oil and gas, despite rising importance of renewable sources like solar and wind in the development process.
Out of the 22 countries in the Arab region, seven countries, namely, Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates, of which four are GCC countries, are members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). In 2014, Arab countries held 43.6% of total world oil reserves, as well as 27.4% of total world natural gas reserves. Total crude oil production accounted for 8.7 billion barrels, contributing to nearly 30% of total world oil production in 2014.  Saudi Arabia is the largest holder of crude oil reserves and the largest producer of crude oil in the region; producing 3.6 billion barrels of crude oil (2014), followed by Iraq, UAE, and Kuwait. Moreover, dry natural gas total production registered 19.1 trillion cubic feet, contributing to 15.6% of the world production in 2014.  Qatar is the largest producer of natural gas in the Arab region. In 2014, natural gas production accounted for 5.7 trillion cubic feet. Consumption of hydrocarbon products is continuously increasing with population growth and economic activity. Natural gas consumption almost doubled over the last years, increasing from 6.3 trillion cubic feet in 2000 to 13.2 trillion cubic feet in 2014.
The majority of Arab states are net crude oil exporters (13 countries), with Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and United Arab Emirates being the top oil exporters. In 2012, Saudi Arabia exported 2.8 billion barrels of crude oil, which is equivalent to around 17.4% of the world crude oil exports. During the same year, the Arab net energy exporters scored, as a group, around 43.5% of the world crude exports . Three countries are classified as net importers of crude oil, namely, Jordan, Morocco, and Bahrain. Arab countries have also been among the major suppliers of natural gas including six net natural gas exporting countries (Algeria, Egypt, Oman, Qatar, Libya, and Yemen), with Qatar ranked the largest exporter of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in the world and one of the major exporters of natural gas, where net natural gas exports registered 4,200 billion cubic feet in 2014.
Given the geographical position and climate conditions, Arab countries have a great potential in benefiting from its renewable resources, except for water, albeit combustible renewables and waste represents only 2.1% of total energy use in the Arab region in 2013 compared to 10% for the rest of the world. In all Arab countries, the main energy source for electricity generation is oil and natural gas. Renewable electricity output remains shy at the level of 3.7% of the total electricity production compared to 21.5% at the international level in 2013, with the exception of Sudan where around 80.9% of electricity production is hydroelectric. Governments are trying to reduce the consumption of hydrocarbon through phasing out energy subsidies, promoting clean and renewable energy, and increasing energy efficiency, especially in domestic consumption and services sector.
Access to electricity in the Arab countries averaged at 86.3% in 2012. 16 out of the 22 Arab countries have access rates above 90%, while the remaining countries’ access rates are lower than the world average of 84.6%, with Mauritania having the lowest rate at 21.8% in 2012. Yet, such a measure might be misleading. Indeed, data on electricity consumption per capita indicates that Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen have a consumption level below the world average of 3.03 MWh in 2014.
This overview has been drafted by the ADP team based on most available data as of 30 September 2016.
The electrification rate in most of the Arab countries is above the world average of 84.6%. 16 out of the 22 Arab countries have access rates above 90%. Yet, such a measure might be misleading. Data on electricity consumption per capita indicates that Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen have a consumption level below the world average of 3.03 MWh in 2013.