Development of Natural Gas in the Gulf region


On 19th February 2020 CEPMLP’s Wednesday Visiting Speaker Series featured Professor Jonathan Stern from Oxford Institute of Energy Studies (OIES) who spoke about ‘The Development of Natural Gas in the Gulf Region’. Professor Jonathan Stern founded the Natural Gas Research Programme at Oxford Institute of Energy Studies (OIES) in 2003 and was its Director until October 2011 when he became its Chairman and a Senior Research Fellow, he became a Distinguished Fellow in October 2016. He is honorary professor at the Centre for Energy, Petroleum & Mineral Law & Policy, University of Dundee; visiting professor at the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London; fellow of the Energy Delta Institute and a Distinguished Research Fellow of the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (in Tokyo). From 2011-16 he was the EU Speaker of the EU–Russia Gas Advisory Council.

He is the author and editor of several books, including: Natural Gas in Asia: The Challenges of Growth in China, India, Japan and Korea, 2nd Edition (OUP, 2008); editor of The Pricing of Internationally Traded Gas (OUP, 2012) and The Future of Gas in the Gulf: continuity and change (OIES, 2019). He is author of two chapters in: eds. Anne-Sophie Corbeau and David Ledesma, LNG Markets in Transition: the Great Reconfiguration, (OIES/KAPSARC 2016).

His most recent research papers (available on the OIES website) have focussed on the decarbonisation of natural gas: The Future of Gas in Decarbonising European Energy Markets and Challenges to the Future of Gas: unburnable or unaffordable? (2017); Narratives for Natural Gas in Decarbonising European Energy Markets (2019); Challenges to the Future of LNG: decarbonisation, affordability and profitability (2019).

In the talk, Professor Jonathan explained the global gas demand in the Gulf Region and the projection to the year 2030. He outlined the major themes of his book and pointed out that the main problem in the Gulf Region has been influenced by political influence. Qatar was the major exporter in the region. The major developments in Qatar in the period 2000-2018 included the completion of LNG train projects, commissioning of the Pearl GTL project and domestic consumption focus on petrochemicals. The audience learnt about gas exports, imports and power generation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the fact that UAE is the only Gulf Country which has made significant progress in non-fossil power development. He believes that Saudi Arabia has one of the lowest gas prices, they should, however, focus more on gas imports especially in the summer. He also explained the gas demand growth in Oman, Kuwait, Iran and Iraq. He concluded that the development in the supply, demand and trade over the next decade is more likely to be held back by domestic and international politics than concerns about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

The talk was chaired by Dr. Janet Xuanli Liao.

(By Loyola Karobwa, Jocyline Omondi, Mahmud Sulugambari)