By Daniel Canty
HE Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah on why Qatar is the logical place to host the 20th WPC...
Doha will host the upstream's Olymian event in December next year. Here H.E. Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Deputy Premier Minister Of Energy And Industry, Qatar Petroleum Chairman And Managing Director And Chairman Of The Higher Organising Committee For The 20th World Petroleum Congress explains why Qatar is the logical place to congregate, and what will dominate the conference sessions.
In December 2011 over 4000 delegates from the global upstream community will descend on Qatar's capital city, Doha as the gas giant hosts the Middle East's first World Petroleum Congress. The event is held over five days and will attract more than 600 media and 550 presenters participating in a programme that covers all aspects of the industry, from technological advances in upstream and downstream operations, to the role of natural gas, renewable and alternative energy, the management of the industry and its social, economic and environmental impact.
Known as the "Olympian Event of the Oil and Gas Industry", it is attended by a global oil and gas audience and outside stakeholders such as governments, other industry sectors, NGOs and international institutions who also join in the dialogue.
The World Petroleum Exhibition, held alongside the congress, and in the same venue, features exhibits from the national committees of the World Petroleum Council, which include the most prestigious national oil and gas companies and agencies of the world. It also showcases the most important international oil and gas companies alongside key suppliers, service companies and manufacturers. This is the most significant global exhibition dedicated to the oil and gas industries, and will follow the largest Abu Dhabi International Petroeleum Exhbition and Conference (ADIPEC), to be held this coming November.
Al-Attiyah: On behalf of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, and the people of the Qatar, I would like to say how honoured we are to have been selected to host this important global event. It has taken 74 years for the largest petroleum congress in the world to come to the Middle East region, where most of the world's oil and gas reserves are.
I am sure the Congress will be a successful and memorable occasion that will not only celebrate the achievements of the petroleum industry, but also make a valuable contribution to the sharing of information and ideas within the industry.
What do you anticipate will be major themes for discussion at the WPC?
Al-Attiyah: The theme - Energy Solutions for All: Promoting Cooperation, Innovation and Investment - provides an excellent opportunity for delegates to discuss the petroleum industry's role in delivering reliable, affordable and sustainable energy to the global market. A broad range of topics are to be discussed - such as the role of gas in the global energy mix, innovations in the supply chain, complementary energy sources and, most importantly, the industries commitment to sustainability.
Given the high calibre of the speakers that will be present at the congress, I am sure that even the most experienced industry professional will come away from the congress having learnt something new.
What are the next big GTL and LNG developments planned for the coming years?
Al-Attiyah: Qatar is already the number one producer and exporter of LNG in the world and home to the largest and most modern fleet of LNG tankers. At the same time, it continues to pioneer in the gas-to-liquids industry, as well as be one of the leading suppliers of petrochemicals, fertilizers and other manufactured and byproducts from its natural resources.
Qatar is on track to be the world capital of the gas-to-liquids industry and has embraced a number of commercial-scale GTL projects based on various processes developed by the leading technology providers in the world. These clean, low sulfur products will play a key role in reducing localized emissions.
The Oryx GTL project, which commenced operations in mid 2006, will at full capacity use around 330 million cubic feet per day of lean gas to produce 34 000 barrels per day of GTL products. The QP-Shell Pearl GTL project will at full operation produce around 140 000 barrels per day of GTL products as well as significant quantities of condensate and LPG. The first stage is expected to come on-stream during 2010.
Gas-based petrochemical industries are rapidly expanding with 12 projects under construction and further ventures are in the planning stages. The total cost of existing or near completed petrochemical ventures, refineries and metal industries is estimated at over US$20 billion, some US$7.04 billion of which has already been spent on expansion plans with around US$13 billion expected to be spent on ventures planned to be completed and commissioned by the end of year 2010.
With global recession and additional gas supply from the US, the LNG business is experiencing some challenges. What is Qatar Petroleum's strategy for tackling these challenges?
Al-Attiyah: When you are in this business you need to be resilient to external shocks. We manage changing market conditions by diverting our cargoes to take advantage of opportunities in other parts of the world. Today we are the only country with this level of flexibility. Customers need someone to move very quickly. In the 1990s there were cargoes but there were not enough ships. Today we have the ships, we have the cargoes and we are ready to move quicker than anyone.
One of our biggest challenges is the disconnect that exist in some markets between the gas price per BTU and the oil price. Therefore, one of our key challenges is convincing the world of the need for a more equitable pricing arrangement for natural gas. Ultimately, this will benefit both producers and consumers by providing a sound investment environment and adequate supplies of gas at fair prices.
Will there be closer cooperation between gas exporting countries in future?
Al-Attiyah: The Gas Exporting Countries Forum, with its secretariat now established in Doha, aims at enhancing cooperation amongst producing and consuming countries. Its goal is the exchange of expertise in gas exploration and transportation, and to draw up frameworks for world gas markets. The GECF is not just about cooperation between exporting countries. The founders actively seek the participation of consuming countries in the development of the gas industry.
Long term energy trends suggest that world natural gas consumption will increase by an average of 1.6 percent per year from 104 trillion cubic feet in 2006 to 153 trillion cubic feet in 2030. Natural gas will remain a key energy source for industrial sector uses and electricity generation.
The industrial sector currently consumes more natural gas than any other and is expected to continue that trend through 2030, when 40 percent of world natural gas consumption will be for industrial purposes. In particular, new petrochemical plants are expected to rely increasingly on natural gas as a feedstock.
It is not an exaggeration to claim that the future of human prosperity depends on how successfully we tackle the challenge of natural gas supply and demand.
The industry needs greater mutual support to ensure the uninterrupted supply of energy to the world and wise and prudent utilization of our natural resources. In this context, the role of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum is essential.
The shortage of skilled engineers is often mentioned as a risk for the industry as it ramps up to meet demand. How can this be solved and what is Qatar doing in this regard?
Al-Attiyah: The shortage of skilled and qualified manpower is an issue facing the energy industry worldwide. At Qatar Petroleum we have several strategies for ensuring that we have the human resources that we need to keep pace with our ambitious expansion programmes.
For example, we are developing strategic links with the educational institutions within Qatar to increase the number of home grown engineers and other specialists. This cannot solve the shortfall overnight, but it will build up the national knowledge base going into the future.
Is Qatar looking into developing any other energy sources?
Al-Attiyah: Qatar recently signed a MOU with the US Department of Energy in the field of renewable and alternative energy science and technology cooperation. The agreement acknowledges the strategic importance of promoting energy security through diverse energy sources and types, improving cooperation in renewable and alternative energy partnerships, economic growth through clean energy, and reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Among the initiatives we aim to jointly pursue are advances in carbon capture, transportation, and sequestration technologies. We also look forward to opportunities for co-investment in areas such as photovoltaic technologies and co-generation of electricity from the oil production process.