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

While advocating stronger cooperation, QatarEnergy CEO calls for ‘realistic and scientifically based’ energy transition pathway

With COP28 close to the finish line, the battle over fossil fuel language continues without compromise in sight. With this in mind, the CEO of Qatar’s state-owned energy giant QatarEnergy has urged Arab countries to bolster their cooperation efforts in the evolving energy landscape to address the energy transition challenges and come up with a proper way to ensure a sustainable energy future for all.

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

QatarEnergy’s CEO expressed these views in a keynote speech at the opening of the 12th Arab Energy Conference, organized by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), which is being held in Doha, Qatar, from December 11-12, 2023, under the slogan ‘Energy and Arab Cooperation.’

While looking into the current energy environment from various aspects based on international developments in energy markets, implications for the Arab energy world, the steps Arab countries are taking to come to grips with energy security woes, and issues surrounding energy, environment, and sustainable development, the conference delves into topics related to Arab and global energy resources, downstream industries, and energy demand management in Arab countries, along with technological developments and impacts for the energy sector.

This conference examines the ongoing developments in the oil, natural gas, and LNG industry not just in Arab countries but also around the world. In addition, it dives into the future of nuclear energy, renewables, biofuels, hydrogen, low-carbon technologies – such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage – and their role in the energy mix and transition toward a circular carbon economy along with other energy-related topics.

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Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs and the President and CEO of QatarEnergy, underlined: “The changes around us require that we give priority to addressing the energy security challenge and to strengthen our joint action and complementary efforts to support the economic growth of our countries.

“While the global energy map is evolving in light of these changes, the State of Qatar stresses the importance of strengthening cooperation between Arab countries to secure a promising future for us and for the coming generations.”

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During his speech, Al-Kaabi not only called for enhanced efforts to address challenges and achieve complementarity among Arab countries to support their economic growth but also emphasized the need for greater investments in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies in conjunction with adopting renewable energy sources.

“Qatar has taken bold strategic decisions, investing tens of billions of dollars in the LNG industry, at a time when many doubted the feasibility of such investments. Our decision at the time was based on a realistic understanding of market fundamentals and efforts to reduce global carbon emissions. As a result, we embarked on implementing our plans to raise our LNG production from the current 77 million tons per annum to 126 million tons by 2026,” outlined QatarEnergy’s CEO.

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While underlining 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, 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.

QatarEnergy’s CEO also 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.

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While underscoring the need to assist around one billion people around the world who have no access to basic electricity in his opening speech on December 11, Al-Kaabi highlighted the “urgent need to formulate a realistic and scientifically based vision for a fair, balanced, and sustainable energy transition.”

This comes at a time when the COP28 draft outcome text ran into opposition from multiple sides, primarily due to dropping the phase-out of fossil fuels, although the text did recognize the need for “deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in GHG emissions” and listed a range of actions that countries “could” take to combat the climate crisis.

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The ongoing negotiations clearly show the dichotomy between the players at the UN climate talks, making it difficult to predict which side will win despite being only hours away from the text of the final COP28 agreement.

Once negotiations come to an end, how will the oil and gas industry fare? Will the anticipated global build-out of LNG projects continue or will many of these projects come to an abrupt end as climate activists lobby to accomplish?

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Wood Mackenzie recently pointed out that the competition in delivering the next wave of LNG growth would be fierce, though Qatar and the U.S., with 40% of global supply between them, were expected to be the front-runners by a mile. The two LNG players’ combined market share is expected to exceed 60% by 2040.