The 3rd GECF Annual Workshop on "Promotion of Natural Gas Demand" featured international gas industry leaders and panellists and focused on factors that will position natural gas as a “fuel of choice” for the 21st century global economy.
The GECF in a release said increased co-operation between producers and buyers, digitalisation across the value-chain, investment in infrastructure and research and development in innovative technologies will play a pivotal role in positioning natural gas as a fuel of choice for the 21st century global economy.
The widely attended workshop, held virtually, was organised by the Gas Exporting Countries Forum at a critical time for the gas industry, which is facing unprecedented levels of complexity and market upheaval brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and persistently mild winter.
In spite of this, the speakers opined that natural gas is the fuel that can achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the objectives of Paris Agreement as its credentials far outweigh that of other energy sources such as coal and oil.
Welcoming the audience, the GECF secretary general Yury Sentyurin outlined the salient points that leverage gas industry’s growth and highlighted the forum’s efforts in promotion of natural gas, in line with the GECF Statute, the GECF Long-Term Strategy, and the Declaration of Malabo at the conclusion the 5th GECF Summit of Heads of States and Government, all of which guide the GECF to advocate for the versatility of natural gas based on fair pricing policies and a level playing field, amongst other factors.
“We recognise the vital role that natural gas has to play in energy transition and sustainable development as we strive for energy security for all nations. Now more than ever, there must be a spirit of collective collaboration amongst industry players in order to sustain existing markets, and more so to create new promising ones,” Sentyurin said.
“We also recognise the crucial role of digitalisation as we strive to reduce cost across the natural gas value chain and enhance the competitiveness of natural gas.”
The keynote speakers included president of International Gas Union (IGU), Joe M Kang; executive chairman, African Energy Chamber, NJ Ayuk; chairman, Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), Magdy Galal, and vice president (LNG Marketing and Trading) Petronas, Shamsairi Mohamed Ibrahim.
This was followed by two panel sessions.
The first panel discussion was on "Improving the competitiveness of natural gas through cost optimisation and digitalisation" and moderated by Stuart Elliot, senior writer, European Gas & LNG at S&P Global Platts. Joining this debate were Robbin Mills, CEO, Qamar Energy and Vincent Demoury, general delegate of International Group of LNG Importers (GIIGNL).
The second session on ‘‘Adapting to new gas market realities in a post-Covid-19 situation: Low prices and weakened demand" was moderated by Nikolay Kozhanov, research associate Professor at the Gulf Studies Centre, Qatar University, and featured the presentations of Ayuk, as well as Sergei Komlev, head of Contract Structuring and Pricing Directorate from Gazprom Export and Mike Fulwood, senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
Kang referred to the messages published in the IGU’s latest report, "Gas Technology and Innovation for a Sustainable Future", and focused his remarks on the potential that technology can offer in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy access.
The GECF Gas Market Analysis Department head Mahdjouba Belaifa then spoke about the importance of this annual workshop for the industry and the GECF’s role in aligning many voices as one voice. She explained that in the previous two workshops the key identified areas for natural gas were held with a focus on cost competitiveness, policy advocacy, importance of long-term oil indexed contracts for the security of supply, development of infrastructure, and new business models.
She highlighted some of the proposed actions after the workshops such as reinforcement of dialogue, role of R&D, fair access to technology, engagement of policymakers in advocacy for fair policies towards natural gas, the role of social media to sensitise various segments of the public, as well as digital technologies to improve productivity.