Oman to host regional conference on gas flaring reduction
Sat, 13 March 2010
Two-day forum organised by World Bank’s GGFR Partnership set for May - By Conrad Prabhu - MUSCAT — The Sultanate will host a major regional conference on gas flaring reduction, underscoring its commitment to supporting global efforts in combating the environmentally damaging practice of flaring or venting natural gas. The 1st Middle East Forum on Flaring Reduction and Gas Utilisation will be held at the Al Bustan Palace InterContinental during May 10-11, 2010.
The two-day event is being organised by The World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) programme, in collaboration with Oman’s Ministry of Oil and Gas. Masdar, the state-owned ‘future energy’ company of the government of the UAE Emirate of Abu Dhabi, is also backing the forum. Speaking to the Observer, Jean-Eric Molinard, GGFR’s Adviser (Oil, Gas, Mining and Chemicals), said the Sultanate’s decision to back the event is in line with the government’s longstanding policies that support environmental conservation and sustainable development.
“From the outset of its modern Renaissance in the 1970s, Oman has been a leader in the cause of environmental preservation, as well as in the protection of the health, safety and well-being of the wider community. Together with its exceptional natural beauty and hospitality, the Sultanate provides an ideal setting for the hosting of this first ever forum on flaring reduction and gas utilisation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).”
The May forum in Muscat is the latest in a series of initiatives by the GGFR partnership to nudge gas producers around the world towards the goal of flaring reduction and commercialisation of the flared gas instead. The World Bank estimates that over 150 billion cubic metres (or 5.3 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas is being flared and vented annually.
This volume is equivalent to a quarter of the annual gas needs of the United States alone, or a third of the European Union’s gas consumption. Worse, flaring has a global impact on climate change by adding around 400 million tonnes of CO2 — a major greenhouse gas — in annual emissions. Significantly, the Middle East region flares an estimated 30 BCM of associated gas, which is enough to feed a 20 million ton capacity LNG plant annually.
“This time around, we want to put the focus on the Middle East and North Africa, which is the second biggest region in the world for flared gas,” said Molinard. “We are optimistic that government ministries, gas producers and consumers, utilities and other stakeholders will come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities linked to flaring reduction and gas commercialisation.
Through cross-border initiatives, for example, it is possible for one gas producer to reduce flaring and export it instead to a gas consumer.” During their weeklong visit to the Sultanate, Molinard, along with fellow World Bank executive Mauricio O Rios Ibanez (Communications Officer for GGFR’s Oil, Gas, Mining & Chemicals Department), met with officials of the Ministry of Oil and Gas for talks on the upcoming conference.
“The Ministry is taking the issue of gas flaring reduction very seriously. It is supporting the conference wholeheartedly and will disseminate information about the event to other government departments and stakeholders with a view to encouraging a wide participation. In all, we hope to have more than 100 delegates from countries across the MENA region taking part.”
Launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in August 2002, the Global Gas Flaring Reduction public-private partnership (GGFR)brings around the table representatives of governments of oil-producing countries, state-owned companies and major international oil companies so that together they can overcome the barriers to reducing gas flaring by sharing global best practices and implementing country specific programmes.
The GGFR partnership facilitates and supports national efforts to use currently flared gas by promoting effective regulatory frameworks and tackling the constraints on gas utilisation, such as insufficient infrastructure and poor access to local and international energy markets, particularly in developing countries.
Since its launch, major oil companies, the Opec Secretariat and 15 countries that contribute a significant share of the world’s flaring (about 50 per cent) have already joined GGFR. In the region, GGFR partners include Qatar, the UAE and Iraq.
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