x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Abu Dhabi to host pivotal debate on future of world energy

World energy leaders, policymakers and research executives from across the gas and oil industry will descend on the UAE capital next week for the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference.

Adipec is the oldest and biggest gas and oil event in the region. It facilitated more than US$4 billion in business transactions in last year's edition. Lee Hoagland / The National
Adipec is the oldest and biggest gas and oil event in the region. It facilitated more than US$4 billion in business transactions in last year's edition. Lee Hoagland / The National

Next week, 50,000 of the world’s energy leaders, policymakers, industry professionals and research executives from across the gas and oil industry will descend on the capital for the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (Adipec).

For the 16th occasion, Abu Dhabi will be right at the heart of the global energy debate – facilitating critical dialogue between policymakers, business leaders and scientific scholars. Yet despite the UAE’s long history of advancing the industry, this year marks a pivotal year for the event.

Adipec is the oldest and biggest gas and oil event in the region. And while last year’s edition was a huge success, facilitating more than US$4 billion in business transactions, the event remains agile enough to adapt and reflect the evolutionary nature of the energy industry today.

Under this year’s theme of Energy for all in a Changing World, Adipec’s promise to the energy community is to throw a spotlight on key issues and offer a platform for solutions.

That platform is now annual for the first time, which in itself is not significant but does correlate to the dynamic nature of the gas and oil industry and to the UAE’s ability and desire to remain engaged.

Collectively, the industry faces a series of challenges, and I see the following as being critical: What is the future of gas in the global energy mix? How do we increase energy security against a backdrop of social, economic and political challenges? How can we ensure the industry maximises its potential by adopting an inclusive approach to female empowerment?

And, what does it take to inspire a generation of future energy professionals, equipped to carry the torch of innovation and advance the diversification of global energy sources? These are issues that we intend to face head-on next week.

So what can Abu Dhabi and the UAE offer such a debate?

I think our story is compelling. The discovery of oil in 1958 in Abu Dhabi’s Western Gharbia Region set the UAE on a path of sustained growth and prosperity.

From the desert, thriving cities have emerged, setting global benchmarks in innovation and technology. Our economy is expanding rapidly, as is our urban population. But with this growth, comes challenges of 9 per cent energy demand growth annually.

To mitigate those pressures, we are readdressing the way in which we prioritise our energy resources and investing strategically in our energy and economic future.

We realised quickly that our future lies in a balanced portfolio of hydrocarbons, renewables and nuclear, and while we continue to take great strides in this pursuit, the journey has taught us lessons from which the world can benefit.

Gas and oil are as much a part of our future as they are of our heritage. In fact, as the UAE looks to increase oil production levels from 2.9 million to 3.5 million barrels per day, we can appreciate its importance in enabling our vision for an economy based more on knowledge, rather than hydrocarbons. By investing in gas as a source of fuel for power generation, we are able to liberate oil for export and support our ongoing development.

Equally as important is our investment in people.

Integrating women into the industry is a process that requires debate and dialogue, and while not enough has been done, initiatives are in place to address the need to empower women in this region and across the world. A 21st-century industry will neither maximise its potential nor navigate its challenges successfully, without active participation from women.

But more can be done, and their presence in Abu Dhabi will act as a vital source of inspiration to the region’s female workforce.

We must also inspire our youth. In a country so ingrained in hydrocarbon leadership, it must be our people, their spirit, knowledge and expertise that extends that leadership and delivers the future we need.

As a hotbed of innovation and smart technology, the energy business is right at the cutting edge of advancing our economic and social development. We must work harder to communicate that.

These topics are critical to our future. We must get them right, and to do so the dialogue must advance. As an industry, we are bound by these common challenges – all of which will be on the agenda at our first ever business conference. Bringing together the full gas and oil value chains, the business conference will allow some of the world’s most important executives to discuss the industry’s future.

And we have a number of chief executives confirmed. Peter Voser, Royal Dutch Shell; Christophe de Margerie, Total; Igor Sechin, Rosneft; Bob Dudley, BP; Helge Lund, Statoil; Toshiaki Kitamura, Inpex; Moon Kyu Suh, Korea National Oil; and Abdelhamid Zerguine, Sonatrach. These are just a few of the names due to attend.

Never before has the region welcomed a collection of energy leaders quite like it.

The energy world is changing, and our challenges as global exporters are more robust now than ever. Mitigating climate change, delivering access to energy and establishing energy security are top of the agenda for those operating across the energy spectrum.

Our energy industry has looked inward to innovation to ensure it is able to serve the world better. On the eve of the world’s third largest gas and oil event, we prepare ourselves to extend the unique value we bring to the dialogue.

Mohammed A Sahoo Al Suwaidi is the director, gas directorate at Adnoc. He is also chairman of the Adipec 2013 Conference. Under the patronage of Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, Adipec will take place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from Sunday to Wednesday.