Clean natural gas and related clean technologies
Natural gas reserves are abundantly available in the GCC countries and of all fossil fuels, natural gas is surely the cleanest one. Moreover, specific technologies (e.g. combined cycle power plants) exist that allow gas to have better energy transformation efficiencies than other fuels. However, as all gas turbine based applications have significant efficiency losses in hot climates, specific research for these technologies to be used in the GCC environment would be beneficial. Gas can also be used for a/c with better overall well-to-appliance efficiencies than traditional electricity based appliances. As for other energy carriers, however, the below cost pricing of natural gas leads often to shortages and non-availability of gas in many GCC countries. In fact, only Qatar enjoys absolute abundance of natural gas. Other GCC countries, such as Abu Dhabi or Oman, though exporters of LNG, face a shortage of gas for domestic purposes. Artificially low domestic gas prices have discouraged the exploitation of known but expensive gas reserves (generally very deep and sour gas reservoirs); they also encourage long distance exports of LNG to liberalised markets rather than short distance exports to regional neighbours, as would be economically sound under normal market conditions. As a result, we see distortions, for example the UAE and Oman exporting gas to the Far East and at the same time importing gas from Qatar for domestic use. This situation cannot continue very long; Qatar is unhappy because of the low price it receives for the gas and refuses to consider increasing capacity. It also refuses to consider exporting gas to Bahrain and has shelved a project to export gas to Kuwait. The region needs to urgently address these distortions, although energy pricing is a politically sensitive issue. Administrative gas prices should be progressively abandoned in favour of a competitive market based on a network of pipelines connecting all regional production and consumption centres.
The European experience in its pursuit of a single, transparent and competitive gas market may be of interest to the GCC countries, which can learn from it. Europe with its highly developed gas industry and gas infrastructure has accumulated over the last decades extensive experience which gas companies and research institutes can share with the GCC partners, to develop a mutually beneficial cooperation as far as technology and markets are concerned. This includes especially distribution and end-user technology, safety, commercial and tariffication issues and, in general, management of gas retail networks and service to small consumers.
There is huge scope for switching from oil to gas in domestic GCC markets. In addition to gas, substitution of LPG for oil should also be investigated. Use of LPG for transport, domestic needs or even power generation in locations not served by pipelines holds important potential for reducing domestic consumption of petroleum products, reducing CO2 emissions, and making more petroleum products available to the international market.
The Discussion Group consists of a number of selected qualified experts from the EU and the GCC regions with proven professional and/or research record in the specific field, thus capable of contributing and participating in collaboration activities including:
- know-how and technology transfer,
- policies discussion,
- examination of state-of-the art technologies,
- best practices discussion and promotion,
- research collaboration,
- dissemination and promotion of relevant demonstration projects, and
- facilitation and promotion of relevant EU-GCC cooperation initiatives and projects.
Members of the Discussion Group will be able to follow closely the group activities that are launched. Indicative benefits include:
- invitation for participation in thematic working events, network meetings, training seminars as well as web-meetings, and
- personal account in the private experts collaboration Area within the Network web-platform.
- Dr Naji Abi-Aad, Economist, Qatar Petroleum
- Dr Mohsen Assadi, Managing Director, Centre for Sustainable Energy Solutions, Stavanger, Norway