Energy markets need more investment to avoid supply shocks, says Dr Al Jaber

Renewable energy sources alone are insufficient to meet growth in demand while comprehensive energy transition can take time, UAE's Special Envoy for Climate Change says

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive officer of Adnoc, said the country continues to invest in developing oil production capacity while focusing on reducing emissions. Photo: @uaeclimateenvoy
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Global energy markets are in the grip of "unprecedented challenges and fluctuations" along with sensitivity to "geopolitical shocks", underscoring the need to increase investment in oil and gas capacities, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, has said.

"Energy markets remain at risk from under supply as a result of long-term underinvestment in hydrocarbons," he told the 15th Energy Conference in Rabat on Monday.

More investment is needed in the oil and gas sector to avoid a shortage of supply in the coming years, because renewable energy sources alone are not sufficient to meet the growth in demand, said Dr Al Jaber, who is also the UAE's Special Envoy for Climate Change.

"For us in the UAE, we continue to invest in developing our oil production capacity while focusing on reducing emissions, building on our commitment as a responsible and reliable energy provider," he said.

Oil prices are up almost 100 per cent since last year and touched 14-year highs after the US and the UK announced bans on Russian crude and gas imports. They eased after the UAE said last week it was in favour of Opec+ increasing production at a faster pace than its current monthly target.

But crude prices are expected to remain above the $100 mark this week, with the possibility of further increases if the Russia-Ukraine crisis intensifies, analysts said.

The International Energy Agency executive director Fatih Birol on Monday urged oil-producing countries to pump more to stabilise markets affected by the war in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

After an initial release of 62 million barrels, the IEA would make further releases if "conditions stay or worsen", Mr Birol told the energy conference in Rabat.

"Every responsible oil producer needs to put more oil in the market," he said via video conference.

Meanwhile, Dr Al Jaber said energy transition takes time and countries "cannot simply flip a switch".

"For this transition to be successful, it must be thoughtful and based on logical foundations, a practical roadmap and gradual implementation steps," he said. "The energy transition will take decades, during which the world will continue to need oil and gas."

The target is to hold back emissions, not to reduce the rates of growth and prosperity, he said.

"We must continue to invest to create a viable diversified mix of energy sources, including solar, wind, hydro and peaceful nuclear energy, as well as the least carbon intensive hydrocarbons," Dr Al Jaber said. "We in the UAE adopt a realistic, logical and practical approach in this regard."

The UAE, Opec's third-largest oil producer, plans to invest Dh600 billion ($163bn) by 2050 in renewable and clean energy capacity, and achieve net zero emissions in the next three decades.

"The UAE leadership views the energy transition as a real opportunity to transform and diversify its economy," Dr Al Jaber said.

The UAE is also seeking to deepen co-operation with Morocco in areas of renewable energy as the two Arab countries work towards their climate change goals, Dr Al Jaber said.

He urged public and private sector players in Morocco to strengthen existing partnerships with counterparts in the UAE and explore opportunities in new areas.

The UAE leadership views the energy transition as a real opportunity to transform and diversify its economy
Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology

"The kingdom of Morocco is full of promising investment opportunities in various sectors, and the UAE remains a partner of choice," said Dr Al Jaber, who is also managing director and group chief executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc). "We are keen to strengthen our strategic energy partnership with the kingdom and discuss investment opportunities across the energy spectrum."

The UAE is an active investor in Morocco's renewables sector through its Abu Dhabi-based clean energy company Masdar. The company, in partnership with the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water, has set up a Solar Home System Project to provide energy to nearly 20,000 homes in more than 1,000 rural towns across Morocco.

Masdar is also part of an international consortium that won a tender to construct an 800-megawatt solar power plant in Morocco. The consortium, which also includes France's EDF Renewables and Casablanca-based Green of Africa, won the award for the design, financing, construction, operation and maintenance of the first phase in the Noor Midelt project.

"We are also keen to develop the Noor Midelt solar power plant, with a total installed capacity of 800 megawatts, which is the world’s first advanced hybridisation of concentrated solar power and photovoltaic technologies," Dr Al Jaber said.

The UAE, which will host Cop28, will work closely with Egypt, which is hosting the Cop27 conference this year, he said.

"We also look forward to consulting with the kingdom of Morocco building on its experience in climate action, especially as it hosted the Cop22 conference in 2016 in Marrakesh."

Updated: March 14, 2022, 1:22 PM