Qatar will host the sixth Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Doha on Tuesday, drawing the participation of the heads of state and governments of the member countries of GECF. This will be the second time Doha will be playing host to the forum, with the first being held in November 2011.
Qatar was chosen as the host of the lastest forum at the closing of the 21st Ministerial Meeting of the GECF in the Russian capital Moscow in October 2019. All member states affirmed that the Doha Forum truly embodies the deep belief in dialogue to enhance its tireless efforts to meet the growing global demand for clean energy. It also provides a favorable opportunity to discuss the latest developments and trends related to the global gas industry.
The forum is preceded by ministerial meetings and other working group meetings at a time when attention is turning to Doha, which will hosts this important global economic event, considering natural gas as one of the alternatives and important sources in the transition towards clean energy.
Natural gas, one of the fossil fuels, enjoys a large share of global consumption, which has made this industry face many global challenges, not in terms of the increasing energy demand, but in terms of environmental, social, and economic aspects in both exporting and importing countries.
There is no doubt that the State of Qatar, as the largest producer of liquefied natural gas in the world, and chair of the upcoming forum, will play a leading and influential role in encouraging regional and international dialogue and enhancing the position of natural gas as the cleanest fossil fuel and future energy source, leading to low-carbon economies.
Gas forums have become one of the most important forums that bring together decision-makers and specialized experts to discuss issues related to the natural gas industry and trade and ways to promote it to enhance the position of this resource as a source of clean energy in the world. However, the escalating challenges of this vital source require innovative and diversified solutions that can be applied economically, which guarantees the interests of consumers and producers.
At a time when Qatar has become one of the leading gas-exporting countries in the world, it is working on shifting towards clean and renewable energy, and reducing carbon emissions by adopting the highest environmental standards in the gas industry, which was confirmed by His Highness the Amir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s speech inaugurating the 50th Shura Council Ordinary Session.
HH the Amir said that regarding the energy sector, changing the name of Qatar Petroleum to Qatar Energy reflects effective Qatari support for the transition towards clean and renewable energy. In this field, Qatar work on two levels. The first is to increase the production of liquefied natural gas and reduce emissions resulting from its production using the latest technologies, and the second is to contribute to the development and use of solar energy. The state pays special attention to protecting the environment by issuing the necessary legislation in this regard, promoting awareness of the importance of the environment in our daily lives, recycling harmful waste, monitoring air and seawater quality, and providing financial incentives to companies that present projects that protect the environment and confront climate change.
Minister of State for Energy Affairs and Managing Director and CEO of Qatar Energy HE Saad bin Sherida Al Kaabi announced last October that the name of Qatar Petroleum (QP) would be changed to Qatar Energy (QE).
With a new brand and corporate identity, he said, Qatar Energy would continue to provide the cleanest energy that the world needs and play its role as an effective and essential partner to reach the best solutions in the transformation of the current world transition to low carbon energy.
The company is moving forward with full force to develop the North Field by building the latest LNG production lines, which will push our leading position forward with a production capacity of 126 million tons per year in 2027, he added. Not only that, but QE is making efforts to protect the environment by minimizing the carbon footprint, using the most advanced methods in the field of carbon sequestration to sequester nine million tons of carbon dioxide annually by the end of this decade, His Excellency continued.
The shift to Qatar Energy reflects an understanding of global changes and a response to the need to protect the planet and the environment, corresponding with the nature of future work in this vital aspect, and sustainable strategic growth, so that QE becomes a partner for everyone in the transition to low-carbon energy.
The signing of the North Field expansion contract in February last year, during the widespread outbreak of COVID-19 and its negative repercussions on the economies of the world, bears special importance to confirm the firm commitment of the State of Qatar to providing the world with the clean energy it needs, regardless of the nature of crises and challenges.
Amid these trends and developments, Qatar’s hosting of the 6th GECF gives a new dimension that supports and enhances the global trend towards clean energy and urges more work and achievement at various levels that secure this type of energy in support of the green economy at the global level.
Former Minister of Energy and Industry HE Dr. Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada told Qatar News Agency (QNA) that Qatar is the natural place to hold this forum as it is the capital of natural gas in the world. It has a long history, extensive experience, and great and many successes in the field of the liquefied natural gas industry and it is still on the throne of its production and export, in addition to being the GECF headquarters.
Headquartered in Doha, the forum is an intergovernmental organization that provides a framework for exchanging knowledge, increasing the level of coordination, and enhancing cooperation among member states. It also seeks to build a mechanism for effective dialogue between gas producers and consumers for the stability and security of supply and demand in global natural gas markets and to protect the interests of gas exporters similar to the protection and support that the coal and oil industry receives from multiple parties, which necessitates countries to work seriously to achieve these interests without negatively affecting the interests of gas consumers.
The Gas Exporting Countries Forum includes 11 member states: Qatar, Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela, in addition to seven observer countries: Angola, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Malaysia, Norway, Peru and the UAE.
In a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA), former Minister of Energy and Industry HE Dr. Mohamed bin Saleh Al Sada said that Qatar’s ambitions in the gas industry were very great, and its plans for production and export expansions were proceeding in full swing, raising the status of the state and increases its export capacity to nearly 60 percent.
Certainly, the preferential advantages of natural gas as clean energy, in addition to the thermal and environmental advantages it enjoys, have led to its increasing use in recent years in terms of electricity generation, petrochemical and mineral industries, domestic consumption and others, that its global trade reaches about 388 million tons annually, compared to about 367 million tons in 2020 due to the increase in global demand.
The member states of the Forum have 70 percent of the world’s gas reserves, and consume about 27 percent of it, knowing that Qatar’s production capacity is 77 million tons annually, and will reach 126 million tons annually in 2027. These figures highlight the role of liquefied gas in the global economy, which requires a significant increase in the volume of capital investments in all stages of its production, processing and export, and a fundamental change in the nature of contracts governing its sale and purchase, which also requires strengthening the long-term strategic partnership relations between all parties related to these stages.
In this context, Dr Sada sid that gas is a strategic commodity, and the nature of its processing, production and export requires a huge long-term investment, and accordingly it is better that sales contracts also be long-term and at least medium-term, to ensure the flow of gas to the importer in a smooth and direct way that meet the interest of both the producer and the consumer.
He pointed out that Qatar had all kinds of contracts and managed them in a successful manner, and it always work to align its interests with the needs of the other party.
Over the past decade, global consumption of natural gas has grown at an average annual rate of 2.9 percent, compared to 1.5 percent for oil and 0.9 percent for coal, and this comes with increased supplies and the world’s tendency to prefer natural gas in generating electricity as the least emitting fossil fuel. The search for new markets and the use of technology to beyond them is vital and necessary to ensure the flow of energy and meet the needs of consumers everywhere, with the increasing importance of the role of natural gas as a source of cleaner energy, because it is free from any polluting particles such as nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide.
Dr Sada believes that natural gas, in the previous years, has proven its worth and expanded its use, even during periods of economic downturn due to the (Covid-19) pandemic, which greatly affected the demand for all types of energy, except for natural gas, which hardly faced a slight decline in 2020, it soon rebounded in 2021 by more than double the rate of decline, rising by approximately 4.6 percent. He went on to say that the countries with the highest economic growth will maintain their consumption capabilities, and the Asian markets will maintain their position and their consumption capabilities as they are large economic markets with emerging and promising markets such as Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand, in addition to the large ones such as China, Japan, Thailand, India and South Korea, as well as the European market.
He pointed out that the next stage of this industry was characterized by a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, to which the major countries that represent the major economies of the world have committed , and pledged to the so-called net zero carbon emissions by 2050. However, His Excellency believes that reaching this goal must be accompanied with producing other clean sources that are not harmful to the environment, such as hydrogen and ammonia, to make their strategy of reaching net zero carbon emissions a success, which makes natural gas possible in terms of switching to clean energy.
Dr Sada said that both the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) were keen on the interests of their members, explaining that OPEC was established in 1960, i.e. in a different period in which gas had no role, and oil at that time contributed to enabling countries that were newly independent or on the verge of independence to exploit their capabilities and potentials, despite the control of a group of international companies in production and prices.
He believes that OPEC is currently keeping supply and demand in balance, and is coordinating between its members with regard to production. His Excellency continued in the same context by saying that Gas Forum was established in a completely different period as well, and the challenges are different, and it doesn’t have an item related to coordination in the production of gas, and its statute doesn’t encourage that, and its goal is to coordinate with regard to the exchange of expertise, financing matters, technology transfer, and conducting important scientific studies in all aspects of the gas industry, allowing member states to easily cooperate and take whatever decisions they deem appropriate based on their priorities and in a proper perspective.
Experts, specialists and those interested in the gas industry are unanimously agreed that Qatar’s expansion in this vital industry is carried out according to a strategic vision that takes primarily its environmental dimensions, in line with the global trend to reduce harmful emissions and the attendant climate changes that harm the planet.
Dr Sada confirmed that the Forum in its 6th edition came in an decisive period between two phases: the first considered gas as clean energy only, and in the second it was considered an energy enabling the world to reduce carbon emissions and maintain the temperature of the universe not more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, a percentage to which the countries of the world pledged to reach in the 2015 Paris Agreement, and the various climate conferences, the latest of which was in the Scottish city of Glasgow last November.
He concluded his statements to QNA by emphasizing the success of Qatars expansion plans in the gas industry, supported by cumulative experiences, credibility and acceptance by other parties, as well as the confidence and positivity when dealing in accordance with the sound directives and a wise policy led by HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
The solidarity of all members of the Gas Forum is necessary to achieve its goals, and the failure to adhere to this by some members will negatively affect the interests of all. There should be stress as well on keenness to reassure gas consumers that protecting the interests of its exporters does not mean that it will be at the expense of the interests of its consumers; consequently,constructive dialogue with them, and exchange of information are necessary for the development of gas and its uses for the benefit of all.
Undoubtedly, the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, in its 6th edition, expected to be held in Doha, is a favorable opportunity, after the world gradually recovered from the Covid-19 crisis, to explore more prospects for cooperation and coordination between member states in order to advance the gas industry, enhance its position, and discuss ways to develop gas global markets, as well as to play an active role in the development of its mechanisms of action.