ASIF IQBAL DOHA THE Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani on Tuesday underlined the need to protect the interests of gas exporters along the lines of protection and support given to coal and oil industries.
“We have to act seriously to realise these interests without leaving a passive impact on the interests of gas consumers,” HH the Emir said in his inaugural speech at the first summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) at Sheraton Doha on Tuesday.
To highlight the assets of natural gas, HH the Emir said, “Though the hydrocarbon resources have contributed to economic and social development, they have a negative impact on the environment.
In contrast, the natural gas has a preferential advantage over all other types of fossil fuel as it is one of the most important clean energy sources. This advantage has, in recent years, led to its increasingly widespread use in power generation, petrochemical and metallic industries, as well as household consumption.” HH the Emir underlined that the fossil fuel still represented the largest share of the total energy mix consumed globally. This situation would probably continue for the foreseeable future.
“However,” HH the Emir further said, “despite the widespread use of natural gas, disparity in oil and gas prices have continued to increase.” He added: “It is illogical that there should be disparity between oil and gas prices despite the thermal and environmental advantages natural gas offers, and therefore, it was quite fair and legitimate for the gas exporters to demand gas commands prices on a par with those of oil and explore all means to have this demand fulfilled.” Making it clear that the GECF was not seeking to control production of natural gas, HH the Emir said, “The forum has been formed to advocate the use of gas at international and regional forums, influencing the laws that support gas exploitation, enacting laws that take into account the environmental advantages of gas, exchange of information on markets and technical and financial aid besides promotion of new markets.” To achieve these goals, HH the Emir said, collaboration among all members of the forum was essential as non-commitment on the part of some members would have a negative impact on the interests of all the members, particularly the leading ones.
HH the Emir, however, reassured gas consumers that the protection of exporters’ interests would not be at the expense of consumers.
HH the Emir said, “We call for constructive dialogue with them through consultation and exchange of information for the sake of developing gas and its usage for the benefit of all parties.” Rebuffing suggestions that GECF forum was a platform for the rich gas producers, HH the Emir said, “We do not want to hear that it (GECF) is for major exporters. The Forum not only welcomes but also encourages any gas exporter who wants to join it.” HH the Emir said liquefied natural gas (LNG) has the right answer to problems like lack of proximity between gas consuming markets and production areas as is the case of East Asian countries.
He said the use of LNG has also seen reduction in too much dependence on one form of fuel as exemplified by the European markets.
Natural gas had also contributed to opening of new markets in China and India, and increased the consumption of gas in Europe and elsewhere, he added.
HH the Emir also pointed out that the expansion in the role of LNG has seen substantial increase in capital investments in all stages of its production. “It is, therefore, necessary to strengthen the long-term strategic partnership relations among all parties linked to these stages,” HH the Emir added.
HH the Emir underlined that Qatar National Vision 2030 was based on several pillars, including the accomplishment of economic and social development, “so we endeavour to develop our economy to make it a diversified and competitive economy consistent with the requirements of preserving and protecting the environment from pollution. This is what would be achieved by several means, including the optimal utilisation of natural gas as a clean energy source,” HH the Emir said. He asserted, “We have no doubt in the ability of the members of this Forum to protect their interests and pursue their important role in examining the ways of developing global gas markets, and to play an active role in developing mechanisms of operation of this market.” HH the Emir noted that it is clear that there are increasing questions about the energy security, in general, and natural gas, in particular.
He expected that the participants in this summit would provide valuable insights to enrich this meeting by discussing relevant topics and proposing ways of strengthening the status of the gas industry.
HH the Emir hoped that this summit would be a good opportunity to explore further cooperation and coordination prospects among the member-states in order to upgrade gas industry.
To conclude, HH the Emir wished the audience a fruitful summit and a pleasant stay in Doha.
Earlier in his welcome address, HH the Emir expressed profound thanks to their excellencies and representatives of the memberstates for accepting the invitation to attend the first summit of the GECF, which “has become one of the most important forums that bring together decision-makers, experts and specialists to discuss issues related to natural gas industry and trade and to thrash out ways of its advancement in pursuit of promoting the status of this resource as a vital source of clean energy in the world.”