Energy firms to build 'gas city' of the future

Dana and Crescent partner to build integrated industrial, commercial and residential communities - with the first in Iraq.

An artist's rendition of Kurdistan Gas City.
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Two Sharjah energy companies, Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum, have launched a joint venture to develop integrated industrial, commercial and residential communities in the Middle East and further afield, with the first to be built in northern Iraq. The Kurdistan regional government, which administers Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, said today it had assigned a 461 million square foot site to Gas Cities, the new joint venture. The Kurdistan Gas City, for which a ground-breaking ceremony will be held on Sept 21, will be located between the region's two main cities of Erbil and Suleymaniya in an area where Dana and Crescent are already pursuing a gas project, said Badr Jafar, the chairman of Gas Cities. "The joint venture has been formed to maximise the value added from natural gas, beyond what could be gained from exporting it," he said.

Mr Jafar, who is also the executive director of Crescent, said Gas Cities was holding detailed discussions with potential "industrial allies" from Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the US that were interested in investing billions of dollars each in major gas-based industrial projects. The proposed developments include plants to produce ammonia and urea, methanol, steel, cement and ceramics, he said. Kurdistan Gas City is expected to attract US$40 billion (Dh147bn) of foreign investment in up to 20 petrochemical and heavy manufacturing factories, as well as hundreds of small- and medium-sized enterprises, Dana and Crescent said. The companies have identified seven additional locations for future "gas city" projects, including one in a GCC country that they hope to announce within months, Mr Jafar said. He said all the proposed developments would incorporate advanced technology for improving energy efficiency - including the recycling of waste heat - and reducing emissions, such as carbon capture and storage. "The concept is to develop private sector-driven sustainable development," Mr Jafar said.

Hamid Jafar, the executive chairman of Dana, said the company's involvement in Kurdistan Gas City would represent "an enormous step forward" in its strategy for expanding in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. "We work toward strengthening the Iraqi economy and bettering the livelihood of the Iraqi people," he said.

Dana and its major shareholder, Crescent, are developing two gasfields, a pipeline and gas processing plants in Kurdistan to supply fuel to two large power plants under construction near Erbil and Suleymaniya, respectively. The companies said the $650 million project was "on track" to start producing 150 million cubic feet per day (cfd) of gas in coming weeks, rising to 300 million cfd early next year. Dana is publicly held with shares listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. Crescent is the UAE's oldest privately held energy company.