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23 April 2012, Financial Times

For global energy markets, that is a change of potentially huge proportions. "This is going to have big implications for traditional exporters of gas," says Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, the west’s industry monitor. "All of them are worried. They have a competitor entering the market that produces gas at much lower cost."

16 April 2012, Financial Times

The recycling of large sums of petrodollars through rising imports of goods by oil producers helps shape the impact of high oil prices on the global economy. “We are witnessing the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the economy – we have never seen such a transfer from consuming to producing countries,” Fatih Birol, IEA chief economist, told the Financial Times in an interview.

3 April 2012, The Wall Street Journal

If the industry doesn't take action to convince the public of its safety, the groundswell of opposition could ultimately block a U.S.-style increase in domestic energy production, said Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency. Concerns about the safety of fracking aren't unfounded. The process involves the use of potentially harmful chemicals, and in the U.S. there have been documented cases of water and air pollution. Cuadrilla acknowledges that operations triggered two small earth tremors on the Bowland shale last year.

2 April 2012, The Guardian

Developing countries in Africa received less in overseas aid last year than they paid for oil imports, new figures from the International Energy Agency show. Sub-Saharan Africa received about $15.6bn (£9.7bn) in overseas development aid last year, but this was outweighed by the $18bn cost of importing oil, Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA, told the Guardian. With oil prices likely to remain high, Birol warns that the only answer is for developing countries to move to cleaner renewable sources of energy. "If you diversify the sources of energy, that is a good thing and clean energy means using free, homegrown resources so that will bring down the import bills," he said.

30 March 2012, Reuters

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said oil consumer nations are set to pay a record $2 trillion this year for oil imports if crude prices do not fall. Crude hit $128 a barrel this month, only $20 short of its 2008 peak, and is up more than 15 percent since January. If crude were to stay there for the rest of the year, oil import bills would cost 3.4 percent of GDP, up from 3.1 percent in 2011, IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said.

27 March 2012, Financial Times

Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist, warns against too much complacency. He notes that the EU’s net imports of oil will cost 2.8 per cent of GDP at present prices, against an average of 1.7 per cent between 2000 and 2010. Given the frailties of the EU economy, the dangers are evident. […] The world will be vulnerable to high oil prices and repeated shocks, so long as supply is stagnant, demand buoyant and unrest likely – in short, so long as it remains as it now is. Read the full article on the FT site (registration required).

26 March 2012, Wall Street Journal

Early data show that high oil prices in Europe have already started to eat into consumer spending in other areas and could push the region back into recession, said the chief economist of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, Monday. The European Union will spend an estimated $502 billion on energy imports in 2012, compared with $472 billion in 2011, said Birol in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires. A further $100 billion will go in 2012 on imports of natural gas, the price of which is indexed to oil, Birol said. "If this situation took place in a normal year...it wouldn't be such a major problem," Birol added. "But now it could really push countries back into recession." The major world economies, including Europe, the U.S., China, Japan and India will spend an estimated $1.5 trillion on oil imports this year, Birol said.

23 March 2012, Financial Times

The cost of oil imports for leading economies will surge to $1.5tn this year if crude prices stay at their current levels – a figure large enough to tip the world back into recession, the International Energy Agency warned on Friday. Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist, said the European Union was particularly vulnerable, with high oil prices now overtaking the sovereign debt crisis as the biggest problem. The IEA estimates that the EU will spend a record $502bn this year on net imports of oil, up from $472bn in 2011. That represents 2.8 per cent of the bloc’s gross domestic product, whereas between 2000 and 2010 it was spending on average 1.7 per cent of GDP on oil imports. “The current price levels are on average higher than the awful year of 2008 [when oil hit a record high of $147 a barrel], and as such have the capacity to tip the global economy back into recession,” Mr Birol said in a speech in London. Read the full article on the FT site (registration required).

7 March 2012, Wall Street Journal

A groundswell of public opposition to shale gas drilling in Europe, driven by legitimate environmental concerns, is a major problem for what could prove to be a very important industry, said the Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, Wednesday in a telephone interview with Dow Jones Newswires. "In many countries there is public opposition and in some countries it is already banned," Birol said. Concerns about the impact of shale gas production on drinking water are legitimate, but can be solved using the best technology and the right regulation, he said. The current regulatory regime in Europe is not adequate, that is why the IEA is convening a meeting in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday to discuss best environmental practices with the industry and policymakers, Birol said. The IEA plans to publish a report with recommendations for best practice on shale gas drilling on May 29.

2 March 2012, CNBC

“Just a couple of years ago, the development of unconventional gas was a silent revolution taking place in the United States, but it is now having widespread effects on global energy markets," the Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, noted. "The prospects for gas demand, pricing and trade patterns have all shifted significantly and there is now a surge of interest from countries all around the world in improving their security of supply through exploitation of unconventional gas." But "there are always two sides to a coin," Birol warned. "While the process of hydraulic fracturing has been around for decades, the rapid increase in the number of wells […] and the large number of companies who drill them has been accompanied by growing concerns about the environmental effects of the exploitation of unconventional resources. Land use, water scarcity, pollution of water supplies and greenhouse gas emissions are increasingly being scrutinized." Birol said the environmental concerns need to be addressed, but the benefits of this new natural gas production are significant, particularly as natural gas increasingly replaces coal in the energy mix, lowering carbon emissions.