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Gas transforming economies with clean, abundant fuel

Sep 19, 2018
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Government representatives of Lebanon, United States and Canada spoke at Gastech on Tuesday about the role gas is playing in guiding exploration and development projects for a commodity that they hope will help transform how energy is used in their respective countries, with their customers, as well as adding environmental benefits.

Speaking at Ministerial Panel: ‘The Transformational Potential of Gas’, H.E. Cesar Abi Khalil, Minister of Energy & Water, Lebanese Republic said the country is rapidly moving towards policies and regulations to develop its offshore resources, while tenders for renewable projects are also underway.

“Lebanon is sitting at the crossroads of trade and civilisation and now we have a new discovered wealth which is our indigenous gas. For so long, we’ve been an energy importer and now, we are at the dawn of being a nascent province in gas,” said Khalil.

“This is posing new opportunities for the Lebanese and our foreign partners who are working in our maritime waters. We have already awarded two blocks in the first licensing round and we are preparing to launch a second bid round hopefully beginning of 2019,” he said, adding that this is in line with the country’s strategy of gasification of its energy sector.

There are several challenges the country has to overcome, like any other developing nation, and gas is helping in this regard.

“We have to meet the growing demand for energy, which is the lifeblood of the economy, fight poverty, grow the economy, meet our sustainable goal of decarbonisation of the energy sector and move towards cleaner fuels,” Khalil said.

Gas was chosen as the fuel of choice as the country follows a government mandate.

“We have to pass two-thirds of our energy production on to natural gas, which is a more abundant, more cheap and cleaner fuel than the fuels we have been using so far,” he said.

The country has an advantage from a geographic standpoint, as it sits at the doorstep of a gas-hungry Europe and its proximity to Asia, he said.

“We are now in the course of a big tender in Lebanon to bring up three FSRUs and fi re all our coastal power plants on natural gas. These FSRUs should bridge the span from now until we have our indigenous gas in Lebanon,” Khalil said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has already seen a gas transformation take place in the country as it became a net exporter of gas for the first time in its history.

Neil Chatterjee, Commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, USA said: “As recently as just a few years ago, we were exporting zero gas. Now, the fact that we have this affordable, abundant, clean domestic supply, has meant transformation for the U.S. power sector and the U.S. economy. We are now working, at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to site the infrastructure to enable us to take advantage of this geopolitically, but also to help the planet by getting affordable, clean, U.S. gas to markets like Lebanon that want it and need it. So it has not just been transformative for the U.S. domestically, but it has global impact as well.”

In Canada, the country is following stringent regulations on gas production, which means its carbon footprint is lower than others. While this raises cost, it also provides an option for buyers that are more concerned about where the gas comes from and how it was produced, said Dave Nikolejsin, Deputy Minister, Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources, Government of British Columbia.

“There are so much concerns on gas production and there is a lot of work to be done. In Canada, we do a lot — its illegal to flare gas and there is a carbon tax. This makes it hard to do projects here but we can produce LNG with a carbon footprint which is much lower than other places in the world,” Nikolejsin said.