Adnoc LNG says natural gas must remain a key player in global energy transition

Fatema Al Nuaimi says collaboration is needed to help countries and companies meet ambitious net zero targets

Fatema Al Nuaimi, chief executive of Adnoc LNG. Victor Besa/The National.

Liquefied natural gas must remain a key player in the global energy transition to ensure energy supply continues to meet demand in a secure, sustainable and reliable way, said Fatema Al Nuaimi, chief executive of Adnoc LNG.

Ms Al Nuaimi said gas provides about a quarter of the world’s energy supply and this “will and should continue”.

However, “this does not mean that the industry is in denial” about the challenges ahead, she said.

“I see gas and LNG as a key player in the energy transition. We understand that this requires more effort in decarbonising the existing asset,” Ms Al Nuaimi told an online seminar at the International Energy Week conference in London.

Collaboration will be needed across the entire value chain as the energy sector transitions towards net zero, she said.

“I do not believe that the ambitious targets we have put [in place] as companies and as nations can be achieved if we do not collaborate and work together,” Ms Al Nuaimi said.

Adnoc describes itself “an energy company — not an oil company,” she said, highlighting its decision to become a shareholder in green energy company Masdar as part of the its future vision.

“You invest today for tomorrow,” she said.

The UAE's acceleration towards cleaner energy is ramping up. The country unveiled its strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 2050 in October last year, with Dh600 billion set to be invested in clean and renewable energy sources over the next three decades.

Ms Al Nuaimi said the global attitude towards the oil and gas sector has shifted once again, now that it has become evident that hydrocarbons will be needed in the future energy mix.

“I see a change in the way the world is looking at the oil and gas sector and, more specifically, the gas industry,” she said.

“We started by being too emotional [saying] 'they should just be out kicked out of the room'. And I think there is better rationalisation now to this.

Ms Al Nuaimi, who has been at the helm of Adnoc LNG since 2018, said hosting Cop28 will be key for the UAE, “not because it is an event happening in our capital” but because of the UAE’s history of being a major player in the oil and gas industry.

“This is going to be a more inclusive dialogue going forward,” she said.

LNG is natural gas that turns into a colourless and non-toxic liquid when cooled to about minus 162°C.

The cooling process shrinks the volume of the gas, making it easy to ship and store, and making it suitable for a number of uses from cooking and heating homes to manufacturing products and fuelling commercial vehicles.

Demand for LNG globally is projected to grow by up to 5 per cent annually over the next 20 years, as it can contribute to better air quality and lower green house gas emissions in the power sector.

This makes the gas ideal for the transition to a low-carbon energy future, supporting a mix of fuels to help countries balance energy demand with their clean energy goals.

Global LNG trade rose by 6 per cent to 380 million tonnes in 2021, according to Shell's latest annual LNG Outlook report, thanks to higher demand as economies recovered from the coronavirus-induced slowdown and countries focused on cutting emissions.

“As countries develop lower-carbon energy systems and pursue net-zero emissions goals, focusing on cleaner forms of gas and decarbonisation measures will help LNG to remain a reliable and flexible energy source for decades to come,” said Wael Sawan, director of integrated gas, renewables and energy solutions at Shell.

Ms Al Nuaimi said Adnoc’s early commitment to natural gas illustrates how Abu Dhabi was committed to decarbonising long before the energy transition became a global trend.

Adnoc LNG first became operational in 1977, making it the first LNG producer in the Arabian Gulf, with the company now operating “some of the most reliable LNG facilities in the world”, said Ms Al Nuaimi.

“I like history and I dug into the history of the company and how it was started,” she said. “Many people were not believers [and did not think] that this business would be a success.”

Ms Al Nuaimi revealed that some members of the international press called it a project set to fail.

“But we proved it to be success and now LNG is the norm when it comes to natural gas. There are varying predictions when it comes to gas demand but it is clear that this is going to be there for a long [time],” she said.

Adnoc LNG is a joint venture between Adnoc, which holds a 70 per cent share, Japan’s Mitsui with a 15 per cent stake, BP with 10 per cent and Total with the remaining 5 per cent.

The company produces LNG, liquefied petroleum gas, paraffinic naphtha and sulphur for export from its plant on Das Island, which is located 160 kilometres off the coast of Abu Dhabi.

It also supplies one billion standard cubic feet of gas per day to the UAE’s national grid, contributing to Adnoc’s commitment towards gas self-sufficiency in the Emirates.

In line with Adnoc’s integrated 2030 Strategy, Adnoc LNG is committed to successfully reducing flaring and emissions to reduce the impact of its operations.

“You know what matters to an organisation if you attend its board [meetings], and as a young engineer I was given this chance to attend one of Adnoc’s board meetings back in 1999 and there was this continuous push from different stakeholders to reduce flares and emissions,” Ms Al Nuaimi said.

This has led to a 20 per cent reduction in the past few years, she said.

The shift to a cleaner operations was self-driven, she said, rather than derived from public opinion or organisational pressure.

“We continue to set targets for the future [but] I don't think that putting targets [in place] and being silent about them will take us anywhere,” Ms Al Nuaimi said.

“If we do not break them down into the building blocks to make this happen, we will never get there. It is going to be somebody else's problem later, so putting these plans in place is key to get us into a better position.”

Updated: February 23, 2022, 5:48 PM
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