QatarEnergy’s CEO: Transition to low-carbon and green future hinges on balancing the energy trilemma scales

As countries intensify their efforts to decarbonize their energy systems and reach the Paris Agreement goals, many are still on the lookout for the right recipe to usher in a clean energy future. With many blueprints circulating, countries do not lack options but it is hard to pick the right one given the enormity of the energy trilemma that each nation needs to tackle in line with its resources. However, the CEO of Qatar’s state-owned energy giant QatarEnergy, is convinced that the enrichment of the energy mix with diverse sources will enable countries around the globe to hit the energy transition jackpot by employing a balancing act between energy security, affordability, and sustainability.

Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Qatar's Minister of State for Energy Affairs, the President and CEO of QatarEnergy; Courtesy of QatarEnergy

During a special panel discussion on energy security at the India Energy Week 2024 (IEW) conference, QatarEnergy’s CEO pointed out the challenges in navigating the volatile, uncertain, and complex waters surrounding the energy industry. Other participants during the session were Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, and Housing & Urban Affairs in the Republic of India; Vickram Bharrat, Minister of Natural Resources of the Republic of Guyana; and Haitham Al-Ghais, Secretary General of OPEC.

Last month, Al-Ghais predicted oil demand growth of 4.7 mb/d during 2023 and 2024, based on OPEC’s forecast, with ESAI at over 4 mb/d too, and Rystad and Argus close to the same level. He further added that even the IEA was anticipating growth of 3.4 mb/d over the 2023-24 period. In OPEC’s World Oil Outlook 2023, the demand is expected to reach 116 mb/d by 2045.

Given these growth trends, Al-Ghais underscored some of the reasons why it was difficult to see peak oil demand by the end of the decade, such as “pushback from populations comprehending the implications of ambitious and unrealistic net zero policy agendas, policymakers reevaluating their approach to energy transition pathways, and faster industrialization in developing countries,” where OPEC predicted greater energy demand and access.

Bearing in mind the current strife and uncertainty over firing the energy transition engine on all cylinders, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs and President and CEO of QatarEnergy, underlined: “We need a balance between energy security, affordability, and sustainability for an effective transition.”

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Therefore, Al-Kaabi is adamant that the only way to face the current challenges, especially in the context of the energy transition journey, is the establishment of a balance between energy security, affordability, and sustainability, while simultaneously encouraging investments in a diverse energy mix, encompassing renewables, natural gas, and other forms of low-carbon and green energy sources to help mitigate risks associated with the volatility of energy markets.

This aligns with Al-Kaabi’s previous views, which he expressed while highlighting the importance of harmonizing energy security, affordability, and sustainability in the quest for an equitable and realistic energy transition at the end of September 2023. At the time, Al-Kaabi spotlighted the role of natural gas in the evolving energy landscape, portraying it as a key piece in the energy transition puzzle and beyond due to renewables’ intermittent nature.

Furthermore, QatarEnergy’s CEO made similar remarks during the LNG2023 Conference & Exhibition in Vancouver when he claimed that gas would continue to be needed in the future as the cleanest fossil fuel for the base load required for electricity production and for powering industrial and manufacturing factories. A recent report from the Energy Industries Council (EIC) outlines that Qatar is positioned for further growth, solidifying its position as the world’s top exporter of LNG.

At the opening of the 12th Arab Energy Conference, organized by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), Al-Kaabi called for enhanced efforts to respond to challenges and achieve complementarity among Arab countries to support their economic growth while addressing the energy transition opportunities and roadblocks to come up with a proper way to ensure a sustainable energy future for all. He also emphasized the need for greater investments in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies in conjunction with adopting renewable energy sources.

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During his recent visit to India, QatarEnergy’s CEO hailed the strong energy relations between India and Qatar, noting that January 25, 2024, marked the 20th anniversary of the inaugural LNG shipment to Petronet’s LNG Dahej Terminal, and that on February 4, 2024, Petronet LNG lifted the 2,000th LNG cargo from Qatar. Al-Kaabi’s remarks came after QatarEnergy inked a 20-year sale and purchase agreement (SPA) with Petronet LNG for the supply of 7.5 million tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG to India.

In a bid to ramp up oil production at Qatar’s largest offshore oil field by about 100,000 barrels of oil per day, QatarEnergy recently handed out four multi-billion-dollar engineering, procurement, construction, and installation (EPCI) contract packages to multiple players, including McDermott, HD Hyundai Heavy Industries, Larsen & Toubro, and China Offshore Oil Engineering (COOEC).

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