Cutting emissions is paying off for Gasco

The Life: Abdulla Al Minhali, a senior vice president at Abu Dhabi Gas Industries, explains the long process of cutting emissions at an energy company and how the efforts have paid off.
Abdulla Al Minhali, the senior vice president for technical operations at Gasco, says the company has made progress. Delores Johnson / The National
Abdulla Al Minhali, the senior vice president for technical operations at Gasco, says the company has made progress. Delores Johnson / The National

Abu Dhabi Gas Industries (Gasco), which processes natural gas in the UAE, registered its first project cutting environmental emissions this year with the UN. Abdulla Al Minhali, the company's senior vice president for technical operations, explains why the process can take so long but also how it can pay off.

What sparked your move to cut emissions a decade ago?

Our plants were built in the late 1970s and early 1980s, so the technology that was in use then may not be the best [today]. As engineers, we always look for solutions. The solutions can be very expensive [because we must] replace everything or retrofit by modifications.

What has been the payoff with your cuts on the project you registered with the UN?

That has paid off by reducing, by at least 20 per cent, [the amount of gas emissions flared]. You can imagine the savings over the next 10 years. The driver was not economical. The driver was that we emit less harmful gases and burn less fuel gas - and as a result, we were able to register [our project with the UN].

How did you manage to register the project with the UN?

The registration process took three years from us and Masdar [Abu Dhabi's clean energy company] to make the case to the validator that this project serves the purpose of saving the environment - that it was not economically driven. We have to prove to them from the beginning in the project documents that the objective was to save the environment.

How does a company like yours go about proving that?

Documents pertaining to the engineering and design of the project. These are documents that tell you - from 2002 - what were the project's objectives, pilots that we did and then developing the full-scale project.

It sounds like a court hearing.

Yes because, you see, you get money for the next 10 years to monetise your flare emissions. China has capitalised on the Kyoto Protocol over the last 10 years and India, greatly. They made big money out of it.

Why has it taken the UAE so long?

First thing, although we are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol, I think we lack the governance and the driving power to publicise and to register our projects. When Masdar was established, one of its main cornerstones was to facilitate the registration of such projects.

Employees at your company compete for an efficiency award each year. What's the most imaginative concept to come out of that?

We've seen the most effective thing is when they change operational conditions. For example, instead of having boilers everywhere, they fire less boilers and they share with an adjacent plant by building interconnecting systems. So we see excellent innovative ideas that have very low costs. However, they have a great effect on energy efficiency and as a result also on profit and revenue to the company.

Published: August 16, 2011 04:00 AM

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