Interview: Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada
Given current market conditions, to what extent is the country’s domestic energy policy focused on enhancing oil production?
MOHAMMED BIN SALEH AL SADA: A road map for development in all sectors is provided by Qatar National Vision 2030 and policies are evolved accordingly, under the wise guidance of the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. For the energy sector, the policy is designed to cover a range of objectives to contribute to the development and growth of Qatar’s economy and to support the national market for all its energy needs. Our investment policy in the sector is resilient and dynamic and takes into account all market factors. It applies to oil production as well. The investments in existing oil fields have been well thought-out, and evolved as a part of an organic growth with international partners, state of the art technology and best practices, in a clear and transparent manner.
How has the lower oil and gas price environment impacted the streamlining and business development plans for the energy industry?
AL SADA: Qatar has ably countered the negative impact of low oil prices through its rational budgeting system and diversified investment portfolio. Our resilient energy policy has intensified the usage of all applicable means for increasing efficiency of production, while focusing on cost reduction and maintaining safety and reliability, thereby increasing the competitiveness of hydrocarbons products without sacrificing our market share. In addition, our energy policy has also focused on rationalisation of the local demand for energy and reducing inefficient use of resources, which puts extra strain on the budget.
What is your outlook for further developing Qatar’s downstream sector?
AL SADA: Successful investment in hydrocarbons has been the main engine for sustained and rapid economic growth in Qatar. We have established ourselves as a gas-based economy. It is very clear that we will keep monetising hydrocarbons resources to support further development and transform the nation into a sustainable and knowledge-based economy.
As far as investment in the downstream sector is concerned, we will continue to develop and consolidate it, wherein the specific projects will be developed based on emerging global dynamics, new market circumstances, resource rationalisation and feasibility of the projects. Projects must be viable in the context of the soft economic scene worldwide.
How could external factors impact the performance of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry?
AL SADA: Irrespective of the external factors, Qatar’s LNG industry will continue to be the most competitive and reliable, backed by its first-mover cost advantage, supported by an efficient delivery mechanism which covers the entire value chain from production and processing to investment in export and receiving terminals, serviced by the world’s largest fleet of 85 dedicated LNG carriers. This fleet has helped in building Qatar’s credible supply history as one of the world’s largest and most reliable LNG exporters.
A significant milestone was reached on May 9, 2016, with the loading of the 10,000th LNG cargo from Ras Laffan Port. Although 2016 is going to witness a worldwide increase in LNG supply by one-fifth to reach about 290m tonnes per annum, demand will also continue to gradually increase, though at a slower pace. New LNG supplies from Australia and the US, expected to enter the market over the coming five years, will add 120m metric tonnes to the market. Qatar’s LNG industry will remain dynamic, responsive and competitive. Without a doubt, the potential new gas assets coming on-line internationally will put pressure on prices by adding surplus quantity. However, the market will ultimately balance itself.
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