Natural gas more important than ever for Mena economies
Natural gas will play a key role in the growth of economies across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena region), said Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum, at the 24th World Energy Congress (WEC24).
Speaking at the event in Abu Dhabi on Monday, Jafar said: "As countries in the region build their non-oil economies and reduce their carbon footprints, natural gas for generating electricity and fueling industry has become a central aspect to economic plans. For decades, oil and gas producers in the region have flared gas as an unwanted byproduct of oil, or left their gas resources in the ground because they were considered of marginal value. Today, those resources have never been more important: natural gas equals electricity, which equals economic growth."
The four-day World Energy Congress is being held in the Middle East for the first time in its history since its start in 1924. The 24th edition of the event is expected to welcome more than 5,000 ministers, industry leaders and academics from 150 countries.
Jafar, who also serves as board managing director of Dana Gas, made his comments during a special session on natural gas at the event. He added that Mena governments have begun to take steps to incentivise the exploration and development of domestic gas resources. The regional private sector, including regional firms like Crescent Petroleum, is ready to fulfill its role in helping develop those resources, he said. However, reforms are required in transparent pricing policy, upstream incentives, and the building of necessary infrastructure, in order to achieve these objectives.
"Since our start in 1971, we have leveraged our understanding of the Middle East to promote cleaner energy and social sustainability," he said. "We are optimistic about the future of the region and its people, and see the private sector in our region as enablers who leverage our people, technology and knowhow to tackle the energy challenges for the benefit of the local economies."
Jafar also pointed out that despite the abundance of gas resources in the region and soaring demand for gas, a combination of geopolitics, lack of infrastructure, and low gas prices have hampered development. That has resulted in Mena countries importing LNG and other forms of gas from other parts of the world, although more than half of worldwide gas supply sits within the region's borders, he said.