News Analysis: Gulf oil, gas sectors faces multiple obstacles in upcoming decades


 With new oil and gas nations coming up and renewable energy usage gaining global momentum, the fossil fuels-rich Gulf states might run into rough waters in the upcoming decades.

The Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are today synonyms for oil, but that could change soon.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Gulf monopoly of oil supply is contested by the United States which is on the way to become the largest oil exporter throughout the world by 2030.

Meantime, Lebanon and Israel, two old arch-foes in the Middle East technically still at war, started digging deeply off the Mediterranean coast in search for oil and gas.

In addition, the global rise of solar power, wind energy and bio-thermal heat rivals the fossil fuels’ monopoly as the only safe and reliable source of energy.

At the 6th World Future Energy Summit (WFES) that was held on Jan. 15-17 in Abu Dhabi, the participants were able to see how the world would function without the use of oil and gas or at least with less fossil fuels.

The Catecar, a Switzerland-based company, presented the Dragonfly, a solar-powered hybrid which does not need to be plugged because the solar panel is fixed on the roof.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi’s environmental city Masdar launched a pilot project aiming at running sea-water desalination plants with solar or wind power by 2020 “in order to reduce the very expensive use of oil and gas to run such plants,” said Dr. Sultan Al-Jaber, the chief executive of Masdar.

At present, half of the world’s desalinated water is produced in the Gulf Arab region.

During the summit, the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council presented how we live next in the Estidama-house, a building equipped only with environmentally-friendly installations that secure an efficient use of water and electricity.

Washington’s independence on Arab oil till 2030 would have deep implications for U.S. military bases in the region, where two thirds of the world’s known oil reserves are located, the German daily Die Welt reported in a secret study which the German intelligence service BND released.

The report estimated that most of Middle Eastern oil would flow to East Asia.

Moreover, the United States is sitting on large shale gas reserves as a source of natural gas. Due to shale gas discoveries, the world’s largest economy might also become autonomous in producing its own natural gas.

However, the method to access shale gas through “fracking” is strongly slammed by environmentalists who see huge danger for nature if shale gas is extracted from mountainous regions.

Meanwhile, Lebanon, known so far as the only Arab country without a desert and without oil, held the country’s first International Oil and Gas Summit in Beirut.

The summit was held after an exploration company from Norway found huge gas reserves beneath the Eastern Mediterranean Sea offshore of Lebanon, which would have the potential of becoming a second Kuwait once it starts exporting gas.

Lebanon’s southern neighbor Israel claims parts of that field known as Leviathan, comprising 17 trillion cubic foot of natural gas.

A Dubai-based economist, who requested anonymity, said that the disputed gas field might lay the foundation for the next Middle East war.

Morten Mauritzen, the president for the Gulf region at U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil, said at the energy summit in Abu Dhabi, which harbors some 7 percent of the world’s known oil reserves, that the demand for oil and gas would rise 35 percent until 2040, dampening hopes that renewable energy like wind power, solar energy or thermal earth-heat would play a significant role in the future.

“Oil and gas are reliable, safe and accessible for all, while solar energy is not scalable to satisfy the huge demand,” said Mauritzen.

According to ExxonMobil’s forecast, world population will grow to 8.7 billion in the next 30 years, up from the current 7 billion.

ExxonMoil currently upgrades together with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company drilling technologies in the Upper Zakum, the world’s largest offshore oilfield.

“We are reclaiming land to build four artificial islands in the Upper Zakum in order to build stations for machines and staff,” said Mauritzen.

He noted that this was a unique example how oil exploration can be done in a cost-efficient way.



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