Tag Archive | "MENA"

Fracking on the rise

The shale gas boom in the US is raising questions all over the world. Will this new alternative cost the Earth more than what we have already lost? Lorraine Bangera looks into the pros and cons of the unconventional gas, which is making its way into the MENA region

Fracking is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure to fracture fine grained sedimentary shale rocks and release natural gas.
This method of extracting gas was first applied in the late 1940s by Amoco (now part of BP) in the Hugoton field in Kansas, United States.
As the cost of oil and gas has increased and technology has improved, the relative cost of obtaining gas in this way has become more attractive to corporations.

Today’s methods uses a pumped fluid, which includes water, mixed with a small proportion of sand and chemicals. The fracking fluid is then pressure injected through a drilled pipeline where the high pressure causes the underground shale rocks to crack, and release shale gas which flows into the well.
The rise of the shale gas production in the United States – a country determined to become self-sufficient for its energy needs – have been a subject of discussion throughout the world giving rise to concerns over the side effects.
France banned shale gas production and in the UK, an earth tremor in the northern seaside town of Blackpool two years ago was alleged to hve been caused by fracking (since blamed on ground levels rising following the Ice Age).
The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects United States may be the world’s top oil producer by 2020, because of the overwhelming rate at which unconventional gas and oil is being extracted.
So, while fracking can solve many short-term energy problems, the question remains, how safe is it really?
Critics say the process can cause methane gas leaks and toxic chemicals that may damage to the surrounding groundwater present in the area. The wastes derived from the process could release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere and may contribute to contaminated air, acid rain and ground level ozone. Another concern environmental agencies have voiced is the increased risk of earthquakes and tremors.
Other critics of hydraulic fracking point to water pollution problems it could cause and Cornell University issued a report saying hydraulic fracking could be potentially worse for climate change than coal.

Side effects on the GCC

The boom in shale gas production in the USA, ironically the world’s largest importer of oil, could affect the GCC. The report, What Is The Significance Of The Shale Phenomenon For Gulf Oil And Gas Producers? points out that the shale boom could impact the oil price in a long-term extreme scenario. According to it, as shale gas supplies increase substantially in the US, its exports could compete with GCC oil exports.
Karim Nassif, Standard & Poor’s credit analyst, said: “We consider there to be limited effect on rated GCC oil producers at present. The more immediate effects of US shale production, in our view, centres on GCC-based natural gas producers.”

This may mean a shift in target markets, diverting Gulf oil and gas exports, originally destined for the US, to Asia and the Far East. However, GCC-based oil and gas producers realise that more practical and strategic plans are needed over the longer term.

Increasing demand for energy

The growing need for energy sources, is not only focussed in the West. In the Middle East, though bestowed with a wealth of oil, it is also looking for alternatives like unconventional gas to avoid future energy crisis. In the MENA region, countries showing a substantial interest in hydraulic fracking include Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordon, Algeria and Tunisia.

Oman has made serious efforts in developing one of the most ambitious ‘tight drilling’ projects in the world. Fracking projects in Khazzan and Makarem field are expected produce at least one billion standard cubic feet of gas a day by 2017. The projects are handled by BP which has invested $24 billion into the first phase of the project, which is expected to increase the national production of oil and gas by a third.

It is the first shale gas project in the region and it too has caused critics of the fracking process to express concern over the potential environmental and community impacts.

BP has sought to reassure environmentalists through its report ‘Unconventional Gas and Hydraulic Fracking’ issue briefing, promising that the project will have properly engineered and constructed facilities that are designed, operated and decommissioned to mitigate the risk of natural gas and hydraulic fracturing fluids entering underground aquifers, including drinking water sources.

Saudi Arabia is also exploring its shale gas resources, estimated at 600 trillion cubic feet. The world’s largest oil producer, Saudi Aramco, will be taking the lead in establishing the project. President of Saudi Aramco, Khalid Al Falih spoke about the project at this year’s World Energy Congress in South Korea, calling it the world’s “colossal endowment” of fossil fuels. He said the main challenge when it comes to providing energy for a growing world population is improving end-use efficiency.

It is clear fracking is here to stay and will form an important part of many countries future energy needs.

The environmental concerns are real but the question remains whether the reassurances from the big producers over safety procedures are adhered too and whether the surge in hydraulic fracking can be balanced in the longer term with protection of the areas in which work takes place.


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Exhibitors sign-up for World Future Energy Summit 2014

The world’s leading innovators in clean energy are signing up to exhibit at the 7th World Future Energy Summit, hosted by Masdar, January 20-22 next year as a part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

Organiser of WFES 2014, Reed Exhibitions, has announced that 90% of exhibition space has already been sold for next year’s event, with strong interest in the new Sustainable Living Area that will provide energy and water -efficient solutions for urban living, including a full-size eco-home, eco-transport models, and a fully-functioning hotel room sponsored by Rotana Hotels, and designed and built by Genesis Manazil.

WFES’s show director, Naji El Haddad said: “Investment in renewable energy, particularly within the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, is growing as more and more governments and private partners commit to large-scale clean energy projects.

“Indeed, the recent WFES insight report into solar energy development in MENA shows the huge potential for developing a large solar industry in the region due to its natural advantages of abundant sunshine and a strong power grid and road network. More importantly, the industry is strongly supported by governments that are committed to the development of clean energy sources to reduce their domestic reliance on fossil fuels.”

Already renowned for showcasing the latest in clean energy technologies, WFES 2014 will once again be the international event that the sustainability industry looks to for new innovations, with exciting new exhibits planned and many exhibitors confirming they will launch breakthrough products.

Next year’s seventh edition of the World Future Energy Summit will be co-located with the second edition of the International Water Summit and the inaugural EcoWASTE exhibition, also hosted by Masdar, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, and is the centerpiece of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week from 19-22 January 2014.


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Expo 2020 – Day of the Vote

Today marks the day of the vote for World Expo 2020, and all fingers in the UAE are crossed to win the bid.
The first expo, The Great Exhibition, was held in London in 1851, to strengthen its connections, celebrate its cultural diversity and marvel at its technological wonders.
World Expos are now an ideal meeting point for the global communities to share innovations and make progress on issues of international importance such as the global economy, sustainable development and improved quality of life for the world’s population.

The expos are held every five years, attracting millions of visitors to visit pavilions, exhibitions and cultural events staged by hundreds of participants including nations, international organisations and businesses.

Dubai’s bid for Expo 2020

“Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”

If Dubai wins the bid, it will be the first city to host the expo in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region. Dubai Expo 2020 will be a platform for connectivity to help pioneer new partnerships for growth and sustainability for the future.
The site for World Expo 2020 Dubai will be Dubai Trade Centre – Jebel Ali: a 438 hectare site located next to the new Al Maktoum International Airport.
Dubai has a long history of being a trade hub and pioneering new ideas. It would provide a unique platform for the global community to come together and explore creative solutions to the three subthemes which have been identified as key drivers of global development:
Sustainability - lasting sources of energy and water
Mobility - smart systems of logistics and transportation
Opportunity - new paths to economic development

The focus will be on exploring their interdependencies and identifying potential partnerships, ultimately resulting in a legacy of innovation.


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Saudi beach resort lands Green Globe award

Movenpick Beach Resort Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia, has been awarded Green Globe certification after a comprehensive sustainability audit, which was carried out by Farnek Middle East, the lead sustainable consultancy in the MENA region.

Following Movenpick Hotels & Resorts’ corporate responsibility strategy, this upscale hotel is dedicated to preserving the environment. Sustainable practices have been implemented at all levels of the business, say hotel group bosses.

“We are delighted about our achievement and the prestigious Green Globe recognition,” said Resort Manager Prashant Sharma. “The certification is testimony of our ongoing commitment to sustainability initiatives, creating a better environment for today – and for future generations to come. The feedback I get from our guests is overwhelmingly positive and supportive of our sustainability programs. These days, visitors are increasingly aware, and they would like to be active partners in promoting a better environment. It is our goal to continuously improve our efforts to achieve the best possible results.”

In 2012 KSA developed a comprehensive framework for measuring and monitoring environmental challenges. As a result, the country has adopted a complete list of standards and guidance, regulating an array of environmental challenges ranging from air pollution to waste water management to transportation of chemicals. Environmental initiatives, such as beach clean-ups at the shores of the Arabian Gulf, are organized on a regular basis.

All regulations include components to promote sustainability. Saudi Arabia is one of the leading countries in the MENA region, and at last year’s Global Economic Symposium in Brazil plans were announced, to transition the nation to 100% renewable energy in the coming decades.

“As the world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia’s commitment to renewable energy is commendable and Movenpick as a brand is supporting the Kingdom’s transition towards sustainability,” said Sandrine Le Biavant, Director Consultancy, Farnek Middle East.

The Movenpick Beach Resort Al Khobar works with a number of social and fund raising organizations, contributing to a positive community and environment. In collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs, the property recently hosted an educational event for local orphans. For the children, this was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to visit a 5-star resort and learn about the hospitality industry. “This was a very emotional day for all of us. It is our objective to understand the needs of each orphanage, and to provide support to each and every one of them. We like to encourage the children about education, so they have a better chance when leaving the orphanage,” added Prashant Sharma.

Movenpick Hotels & Resorts, an international hotel management company with over 16,000 staff members, is represented in 24 countries with 79 hotels, resorts, and Nile cruisers currently in operation. More than 30 properties are planned or under construction, including Chiang Mai and Koh Samui (Thailand), Palawan (Philippines), Dubai (UAE), Sanya (Hainan Island, China), and Djerba (Tunisia).

Focusing on expansion in its core markets of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts specializes in business and conference hotels, as well as holiday resorts, all reflecting a sense of place and respect for their local communities. Of Swiss heritage and headquartered in Zurich, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts is passionate about delivering premium service and culinary enjoyment – all with a personal touch. Committed to sustainable environments, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts has become the most Green Globe certified hotel company in the world.

The hotel company is owned by the Movenpick Holding (66.7%) and the Kingdom Group (33.3%). For more information, please visit www.moevenpick.com.


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Establishing cleaner coal

New technology is transforming the way coal is used to generate clean energy, making it a possible solution to help meet the future energy needs in the MENA region. Lorraine Bangera reports

Coal is one of the world’s most abundant fossil fuels, but its use for power generation produces an estimated 14 billion tonnes of poisonous carbon dioxide a year.
Despite the pollution, coal is the most common fuel used for power generation around the world and the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts a 43% increase in its use from 2000 to 2020. The carbons and hydrocarbons in coal mean it is also used in the production of plastic, tar and fertilisers.
In recent years coal has been recognised as a vital part of the world’s future energy mix and attention has focussed on ways to use the fuel more safely.
Zero emissions coal technology is seen as a core element for future energy supply in a carbon-constrained world. The greatest challenge for clean coal technology is bringing the cost down sufficiently to compete with nuclear power which releases zero emissions.
The world’s first clean coal power plant opened in 2009 in Germany by Swedish utility Vattenfall and it has become a model for other power plants under construction. It involves burning coal to produce heat to generate energy and then storing the smoke and then using a method called ‘carbon capture and storage’ (CCS), which captures carbon dioxide storing it underground in natural geological formation or in man-made space, for example where oil has been extracted.
The processes separates CO2 from combustion exhaust gases and CO2 is absorbed by a liquid solvent and then released when it is heated to form a high purity CO2 stream.
Desulphurisation of the gas stream is required to prevent impurities in the flue gas from contaminating the CO2 capture solvent.

Clean coal making its way in the UAE
In July, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) issued a request for tenders to set up a new clean coal power plant, as part of its efforts to diversify Dubai’s energy mix. This move aims to reduce the use of natural gas and create new sources to generate electricity. The plant is said to produce 12% of Dubai’s total power output, according to the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030, formulated by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy.
HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of DEWA, stated that this will be the first plant of its kind in the region to use clean coal technology and that the project will contribute significantly to alternate sources of energy.
He also explained that the plant’s total production capacity will reach 1,200MW, which will be carried out in two 600MW phases, with the first phase to be completed by 2020, and the second by 2021.
The Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 intends to expand Dubai’s energy sources, with 12% energy derived from clean coal, 12% from nuclear energy, 5% from solar power, and 71% from natural gas.
DEWA said it had selected McKinsey & Company, engineering specialist Black & Veatch, and law firm Allen & Overy as consultants to produce a technical and economic study for the proposed clean coal power plant. Consultants would conduct a preliminary analysis on the type of technology, the type of coal and sourcing strategy which best suit DEWA’s requirements in the first phase of introducing clean coal technology in the UAE.
While the second phase would involve setting technical and business specifications to implement and establish a coal-based power plant in Dubai.

CCS – the cost

  • CCS applied to a modern conventional power plant could reduce CO2 emissions to the atmosphere by approximately 80–90% compared to a plant without CCS.
  • Capturing and compressing CO2 can increase the fuel needs of a coal-fired CCS plant by up to 40% and increases the building cost of the plants by up to 90%.
  • Applying the technology to existing plants would be more expensive especially if they are far from a site where the CO2 is to be stored.
  • Storage of the CO2 is either in deep geological formations, or in the form of mineral carbonates. Deep ocean storage is no longer considered feasible because it greatly increases the threat of acidification of the sea.
  • Geological formations are currently considered the most promising sequestration sites – the USA has enough storage capacity for more than 900 years worth of CO2 at current production rates.

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Passavant-Roediger consortium wins a deal in Egypt

A consortium of Passavant-Roediger GmbH and Hassan Allam Sons has won an AED 545 million contract to expand the Gabal Al Asfar Waste Water Treatment Plant (GAAWWTP) on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. The new deal affirms Passavant’s growing presence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and will sustain its momentum in the area.

Under the terms of the agreement awarded by the Construction Authority for Potable Water and Waste Water, the Hassan Allam led consortium will build a primary and secondary wastewater plant with the volume of 500,000 cubic meter of wastewater per day to raise the total daily treatment capacity at the site up to 2.5 million cubic metres. The project is expected to be completed in four years, and the consortium will oversee the operation and maintenance of the plant two years post completion.

Dr Mazen Bachir, Managing Director, Passavant-Roediger, said: “Our consortium was awarded the bid based on the strength of our wastewater treatment technology, including anaerobic sludge digestion, which give us clear framework and strong resources to undertake a project of this stature.

The new GAAWWTP will benefit 8 million people living in the region, improve the quality of drainage water, and reduce pollution. Egypt is an important market for our expansion plans in the MENA region and we hope to leverage DSI’s reputation and our own global experience to deliver high quality water treatment solutions to the people of Egypt as well as the MENA region.”


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