x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

UAE aims to host 2019 World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi

The news comes as a UAE delegation heads to South Korea for this year's event, which starts on Sunday.

Suhail Al Mazrouei, the UAE Energy Minister. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
Suhail Al Mazrouei, the UAE Energy Minister. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

The UAE plans to bid to host the 2019 World Energy Congress in the capital.

A successful bid would mark the first time the event is hosted in one of the Opec member countries in its 90-year history.

The disclosure comes as chief executives and heads of state from the world’s top energy powers meet in South Korea this week for this year’s event, with energy efficiency and climate change at the top of their agenda.

“The UAE has a strong heritage of energy leadership,” the UAE Minister of Energy, Suhail Al Mazrouei, told Wam, the state news agency.

“We have partnered without interruption with the world’s leading energy companies to ensure reliable oil and gas supply, and we are taking the same approach in new energy sectors, both domestically and globally.”

The statement did not say when a decision will be made on the 2019 event.

The World Energy Congress, which starts in the city of Daegu today and runs through Thursday, brings together 5,000 energy policymakers and executives every three years, including a delegation from the UAE that includes nuclear and climate change officials.

“The UAE has one of the most compelling stories in the industry: a hydrocarbon superpower rapidly diversifying across the energy spectrum,” said Mr Al Mazrouei, who is heading the delegation. “Our role in the World Energy Congress underlines that we are a country that looks toward the future, adapts and innovates in the ways we produce, consume and supply energy.”

The meeting comes as a global policymakers, once focused on broadening the penetration of renewable technologies, turn their focus to energy conservation.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), the global watchdog based in Paris, is due to launch its first report on energy efficiency. Appliances and information technology companies are leading efforts in curbing demand, which in turn boosts energy security and sustainable economic growth, argues the IEA.

Investment in energy efficiency reached a similar scale to renewables and fossil fuel power in 2011, says the agency, which was created in the 1970s to counter Opec and typically issues reports on particular sectors of energy production, like coal, rather than conservation.

Energy efficiency too is “a major energy source”, said the IEA in a release.

Policymakers will also push for progress in global climate change negotiations, due to resume at the end of the year in Warsaw. Nearly 200 nations are working to frame an agreement by 2015 to curb greenhouse gas emissions and stave off some of the worst effects of global warming, from a rise in sea levels to water scarcity.

The UAE delegation includes officials from Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, the state utility and investor also known as Taqa, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ climate change team, as well as Mohamed Al Hammadi, the chief executive of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, the government company building the Arab world’s first civilian nuclear reactor.

South Korea, the host of the meeting with the World Energy Council, has emerged not only as a key partner with Abu Dhabi in nuclear as the primary contractor for the construction and operation of the emirate’s four reactors, but also as a stakeholder in fossil fuel resources since last year.

The state-owned Korea National Oil Corporation and GS Energy, a private company, are due to launch drilling at a site near the Omani border this year, part of a collection of three undeveloped oil and gas blocks awarded in a landmark March 2012 concession.

Seoul is also vying for a stake in Abu Dhabi’s oldest concession, a clutch of giant oilfields held by western majors since the Second World War. Russian, Japanese, American and Italian companies are competing to gain entry as the supermajors defend access to reserves due to disappear from their books in January with the expiration of a 75-year agreement.

Eleven fellows from the Masdar Institute, the government-owned research university, are also to represent the UAE after being selected for presentations on water conversation and links between water and climate change.

ayee@thenational.ae