ADNOC CEO and UAE energy minister on strategies for the energy transition

Suhail Al Mazrouei and Dr. Sultan Al Jaber gave opening remarks at the 24th World Energy Congress, emphasising the strategies needed to transition towards a cleaner energy mix

This is the first time the World Energy Congress, in its 92 year history, has been held in the Middle East
This is the first time the World Energy Congress, in its 92 year history, has been held in the Middle East

UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei and ADNOC Group CEO Sultan Al Jaber emphasised the nation's role in transitioning toward cleaner energy sources during the opening remarks at the 24th World Energy Congress (WEC), which opened today in Abu Dhabi.

"We don't often see a country that is responsible for supplying oil and gas to the world, taking such bold strategy," Al Mazrouei said, noting that the UAE government was aiming to generate 50% of its power from clean energy sources. "We will continue our efforts as a reliable supplier of hydrocarbons to the world, but our leadership wants us to do it in a way that protects the environment, in a way that, with our national oil company and other stakeholders, reduces the carbon footprint by 70% in the year 2050."

Al Jaber noted that on a long-term, global scale, energy demand is rising, pointing to population growth and the rising middle class as two key drivers of long-term growth in energy demand, despite short-term volatility in the market. Energy companies have to meet that need in order to fuel "sustainable economic growth."

As part of the company's long-term strategy, it is ramping up its upstream production and growing its downstream portfolio.

"We are on track to achieve production goals of 4mn barrels per day by 2020 and 5mn by 2030, in parallel, and by tapping into gas caps, undeveloped reservoirs, and unconventional resources, we are unlocking vast reserves of natural gas," Al Jaber added.

ADNOC Group produces some of the least carbon-intensive barrels in the world, and has the lowest methane intensity, he asserted. The company is also investing heavily into carbon capture technology, effectively taking carbon dioxide emitted from industrial sources, and either storing it or using it to enhance its oil recovery.

"We launched the region's first commercial scale carbon capture utilisation and storage facility in 2016, and over the next decade we will expand this programme six times," Al Jaber said. "Taken to scale, carbon capture technology will make a significant contribution to emission reduction and add true economic value to the global energy mix by freeing up much needed clean gas."

However, simply extracting more hydrocarbons does not address rising environmental concerns. "To meet this demand, we will need an inclusive response that integrates and optimises a truly, fully diversified energy mix," Al Jaber said, noting a need for oil and gas, renewable energy, and nuclear energy. Meanwhile, Al Mazrouei said that through the UAE government's investments in renewable energy, it has learned that it is "worth it."

Ultimately, Al Jaber sees partnership as the key to moving forward with greater energy demand, and greater pressure to comply with sustainability goals and regulations.

"Meeting the world's energy needs responsibly and economically will require a renewed spirit of partnership," he said. "Partnership with new sets of investors who value long term, sustainable returns, partnership between energy companies [...] and partnership between consuimg and producing nations that recognise the shift in demand from West to East."

Al Mazrouei emphasised WEC's role as a platform for collaboration, noting the inclusion of youth and startups at the event; 100 startups from across the globe have been invited to attend, with investors also in attendance.

"We would like this platform not to be a platform where only governments are talking, we would like this platform to be a platform where solutions are created, and opportunities are given to those who hopefully will make planet Earth a place for generations and generations to prosper," he said.

These partnerships are happening against a backdrop of transformation, he explained, describing it as "an age of disruption on many levels." Although industries across the globe are seeing changes with an unrelenting pace of technological advancement, he asserts that "new operating models, no matter how they evolve or transform, will always require energy."

"By working together will we stay ahead of demand and we will protect our environemnt, and there is no limit ot the opportunities we can unlock jointly," Al Jaber said.

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