Sustainable Gas Production in the UAE

Introduction

The United Arab Emirates is a small country in the Persian Gulf. It has a population of approximately 9.2 million people where only 1.4 million of them are natives while the other 7.4 million are expatriates (Fattouh & El-Katiri, 2013). The Middle East country is one of the wealthiest nations of the world due to its enormous oil and gas resources, which its economy depends on. The country’s oil store and production capacity is the fourth biggest globally while its natural gas stores are the fifth biggest globally. Fueled by dollar money from the production and exportation of gas and oil and their related products, the country is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The rapid economic growth has increased the demand for energy to support critical industries in the country (Mezher, Dawelbait & Abbas, 2012).

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However, despite its enormous oil and gas resources, the country is unable to meet its current energy demands. For instance, the country’s gas production capacity currently stands at 1978 billion cubic feet (bcf) against a domestic demand of 2412 bcf. This observation means that the country has a shortfall of 450 bcf. The situation makes the UAE resort to the importation of natural gas from Qatar to fill the gap (Al-Amir & Abu-Hijleh, 2013). Currently, the increased energy demand, which is growing at a rate of between 7-10% annually, implies that the UAE will have to come up with measures of meeting this demand while at the same time ensuring sustainability of the gas production to meet the energy constraints in the long term. This paper seeks to analyze the energy challenges that the UAE is facing with reference to GASCO as an Abu Dhabi gas company. It also makes important recommendations on how the country can balance sustainable gas production. The paper also presents alternative energy sources, which the country can utilize to meet the energy demands in the long term.

Sustainability Challenges of Energy Consumption and Production in the UAE

When reviewing the energy production capacity of the UAE, especially by putting into perspective its population size and the available enormous oil and gas resources, it is easy for one to be puzzled in terms of why the country cannot meet its energy demand. In fact, the table and the corresponding graph below show how the country’s oil consumption has been increasing year by year from 1980 to 2013.

Crude Oil Consumption
Year consumption change
1980 75 NA
1985 185 20.92%
1990 243.1 0.29%
1995 342.86 7.89%
2000 370.48 5.59%
2005 497.01 2.10%
2010 615.49 5.10%
2011 650.35 5.66%
2012 669 2.87%
2013 698 4.33%

Source: (United States Energy Information Administration, n.d).

Consumption
Source: (United States Energy Information Administration, n.d)

However, as will be discussed in this section, it is evident that the country faces various challenges, which make its energy production fail to meet the demand. The UAE is one the top 10 largest energy consumers per capita in the world. The energy consumption per capita is approximately 205,000 KWh as of 2008 statistics. Abu Dhabi is the largest producer of power within the UAE. It manufactures about 13.8 GW of about 25GW of the total demand. In the coming years, the power production capacity is anticipated to rise to 23 GW by 2020 and about 43 GW by the end of 2030. For continued production of sustainable power to meet the needs of the growing population and the increasing industrial operations, the UAE will have to diversify its power production. This move will perhaps call for venturing into alternative power production means such as nuclear energy, rather than continuing to depend on its fossil fuel reserves to drive power productions turbines.

In terms of power per capita consumption, the UAE has the highest consumption in the world. By 2006, the UAE residential power consumers recorded one of the highest consumption rates. For example, Abu Dhabi consumers had an annual consumption of 41,000KWh. This value was more than 300% of the average power consumption by residential customers in the United States. Morrison (2013) informs that domestic consumers in the US consumed 11500KWh of power per year on average in 2010. Indeed, Tennessee, which is the US largest state in terms of domestic power consumption, recorded 17,000KWh power consumption by average domestic consumers annually in 2010.

Despite the UAE being a leader in terms of power consumption per capita, some emerging nations are recording even higher power consumption. For instance, despite being overtaken by its neighbors such as Qatar and other countries such as Spain, the UAE still has one of the world’s highest per capita energy consumption (Fattouh & El-Katiri, 2013). To support its high per capita energy consumption, the country produces approximately 20GW, which is among the top 30 largest energy-producing countries in the world, regardless of its small population. According to Al-Alili, Islam, Kubo, Hwang, and Radermacher (2012), more than 99% of the energy production in the country is gas-based, which takes more than 50% of the gas that is produced in the country.

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Table 2 and the corresponding graph below show natural gas production in the UAE. With more than 50% of the produced gas going to the production of energy to meet the domestic energy, only 50% remains to cater for the demand for gas in other activities, despite the recorded heightened demand for the resource from 1990 to 2012 (Crown Prince Court, 2014). For instance, 40% of the remaining natural gas that is produced in the UAE is used to aid in the production of oil resources and related products. The remaining natural gas is used to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is then wholly exported to Japan (Fath, Sadik & Mezher, 2013).

Year Production (Thousand Barrels/day)
1980 35
1985 160
1990 135
1995 160
2000 200
2005 300
2006 300
Production
Source: (United States Energy Information Administration, n.d)

With such high domestic energy consumption among other factors discussed above, it is evident that the current energy consumption is not sustainable. To address these issues, it is important for UAE’s GASCO to review its untenable power consumption levels or find alternative energy sources that will ensure that the country can meet the energy demands.

The argument that the UAE needs to look for mechanisms for increasing fossil fuels for sustainable consumption implies that it is necessary to determine ways in which the nation can optimally make use of its extracted fossil fuels. In fact, it is important to understand the underlying factors that make power consumption in the country very unsustainable. Firstly, the country ranks highly among the nations that have the highest per capita energy consumption (Doukas & Psarras, 2006). This challenge is caused by many factors. For instance, the heavy subsidization of energy cost in the country is a major reason for the increased demand for energy.

Economic literature contends that the investment of public resources in subsidies is an ineffective approach to regulating the trade of basic commodities, including power. However, in GCC nations, Espinoza (2012) says that subsidies are important tools for propelling growth. Indeed, subsidies are deployed as an essential mechanism for ensuring the redistribution of oil resources within GCC nations. The manner in which fuel revenues are utilized and/or saved is important in the UAE, as it influences the entire economy. The nation saves a portion of oil revenues in its sovereign kitty or in bank reserves. The remaining portion is utilized in driving the economy, including funding the public wage bill, infrastructural installations, and the provision of subsidies to reduce the cost of living of the residents. Considering that oil production is the single-most important economic activity in the UAE, the degree of sustainability of oil usage is a critical indicator of the continued future prosperity of the nation.

The UAE has subsidized its gas and electricity to very affordable levels, which then allow people to use large amounts of gas and electricity energy beyond what they need because they can afford it (Al-Alili et al., 2012). The table and graph below show the UAE’s electricity consumption and production per capita in billion KWH.

Year Production Consumption
1980 5.9 5.46
1985 11.45 10.62
1990 16.06 14.52
1995 23.48 21.21
2000 37.55 36.2
2005 57.06 52.7
2010 88.33 81.32
2011 93.21 86.09
2012 100.53 93.28
Production and consumption.
Source: (United States Energy Information Administration, n.d)

The above observation is highly understandable due to the key drivers of energy demand in any country. According to Mezher et al. (2012), the energy demand of any country is a function of income, price, climate, population, and technology. In the UAE, the most important factor of energy demand has been the price, which has directly and indirectly affected the energy demand. Currently, the country has very low prevailing prices as compared to the income. This situation is an incentive for more consumption of energy, which is available and less incentive for investment towards the development of more efficient and sustainable energy production technologies. The reason for the low prices for energy is the government policy, which focuses on providing the citizens with high subsidies and discounts. For instance, citizens of the country only pay approximately USD$1.4 cents for every KWh against a production cost of USD$8.7 cents that the utilities use to produce and to transmit electricity to the end users (Fath et al., 2013). The amount the citizens pay for electricity only accounts for 16% of the government cost, while the government pays the remaining costs in the form of subsidies that it provides. Non-citizens pay USD$4 cents per KWh, which translates to 47% of the government cost, which then pays the rest of the bills through its subsidy program (Fath et al., 2013).

The studies on the economic impacts of subsidies produce mixed reactions. For instance, Krishna and Panagariya (2009) assert that subsidies are a form of protectionism and that they encourage trade barriers while at the same time hindering the competitiveness of imports compared to locally produced products and services. Protectionism impairs the ability of consumers to interact with imported goods and services in the quest for enjoying a high quality utility from goods that are produced outside a nation’s boundaries due to the price prohibition nature of such goods in comparison with locally produced goods and services. For this reason, Anderson (2005) says that governments’ support in the form of subsidies is to some extent illegal, ethical, legal, or unethical. In the economic sense, subsidies produce the overall impact of market distortion together with the imposition of huge economic costs. This situation is perhaps the case in the UAE considering that the government pays about 84% of the power that is consumed by citizens and 53% of the power that non-citizens consume.

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Although subsidies may act as plausible ways of regulating and controlling the markets where government and other stakeholders find necessary, they attract controversies over their overall impacts on the performance of a nation’s economy. For example, in the case of UAE’s oil consumption industry, subsidies influence the competitive equilibrium, which refers to the balancing of the demanded quantity and the quantity that is supplied to the market (Covey, 2007). From the fundamental principles of demand and supply relationships, in case the demand for a given product goes beyond the equilibrium quantity, prices normally fall.

From the above arguments on impacts of subsidies on demand, the fact that the current available electricity in UAE is very affordable has led to a culture of high electricity consumption among the citizens where there is high power consumption infrastructure and habits among the citizens. These habits and infrastructure include inefficient buildings, which lack power saving technologies such as insulation, programmable thermostats, and thermal-pane windows among other factors and behaviors. In this small country, air conditioning accounts for more than 70% of its electricity consumption. This rise is evidently caused by the lack of proper infrastructure and good habits. Due to the high demand for electricity, the country whose electricity is majorly from gas has to use more gas to meet the demand and hence the shortages that exist that lead to its importation of gas from neighboring Qatar.

In the last five years, the UAE has recognized its energy challenges and most importantly, the sustainability of gas production challenges that it is facing. As such, plans have been made for the introduction of alternative energy sources such as the renewable energy. However, despite these suggestions, very little has been achieved so far and for good reasons. The production of these alternative energy sources is expensive. At the current electricity rates, it will be difficult for such projected figures to be sustainable (Hamed, Mustafa, BaMardouf & Al-Washmi, 2010). As such, the current low prices have skewed the demand towards the unsustainable electricity that is produced from gas, thus hindering or delaying the progress of alternative energy source projects that if adopted and operationalized are likely to offer reprieve to the country’s dependency on gas and hence reduce the pressure on gas resources that the country is experiencing. Despite the recognition of the current pricing as a major hindrance to the development of alternative energy, the issue is a very sensitive one. In most cases, it turns political, hence leaving the government with no alternative other than continuing to offer subsidized energy to its citizens.

The energy challenges that the country is facing are also worsened by the fact the UAE, which is a net importer, also exports its gas resources in the form of LNG to Japan. Most people view this decision to export considerable gas amounts as a wrong move. Exporting a commodity, which has to be imported later to meet domestic demand, does not make any economic sense. The country exports approximately 10% of its natural gas production to Japan (Soori & Alzubaidi, 2011). The reason for this move is a contract agreement between Japan and the UAE, which began in 2008. It is expected to end in 2018 without the option of terminating it in between. Consequently, as part of the nation’s role in meeting its international obligations, it has been forced to continue exporting gas to Japan, despite the fact that it does not have enough to meet its domestic demand (Fath et al., 2013). However, indications are clear that the UAE will not seek to renew the contract agreement until the time when it will have a surplus production of the gas to support exportation.

Possible Alternative Energy Sources for the UAE

The current high dependency on non-renewable energy using natural gas is highly unsustainable and hence the need for the country to look for alternative energy sources that can support its high-energy consumption and development in the end. Firstly, the most obvious short-term solution to meet the current energy demand is through the increased production of GASCO’s natural gas that is available in the country’s reserves. Currently, the country has more than 6 trillion cubic meters of proven natural gas in its reserves. However, most of these reserves are categorized as having very high levels of sulfur, which not only makes the production process difficult but also expensive (Hamed et al., 2010). Currently, the country has already made plans towards the extraction and production of the high sulfur content natural gas, which is expected to add approximately 177 bcf per annum to the nation’s gas. However, the increased cost of production of natural gas will make the production of electricity even more expensive, which will only contribute to increased government’s expenditure through its subsidy program (Wan, Li, Liu & Lam, 2011). For this reason, there is a need for a long-term energy solution that is not highly dependent on gas as it is witnessed in the current energy sector of the UAE.

Secondly, the country considers nuclear energy a very viable energy source and alternative to its current natural gas-dependent energy sector. Nuclear energy has the potential of generating and providing enough electricity to meet the growing energy demand in the country. However, constructing a nuclear energy requires enormous resources, owing to its sensitive nature and danger of radiation that must be considered to guarantee the safety of workers and the surrounding communities (Kazim, 2007). Further, it must adhere to the international standards and guidelines for constructing such power plants (Jefferson, 2006). As such, constructing a nuclear energy power plant is often a long-term process. However, the assurance is that once it is completed, a country can have a consistent and long-term power supply to support its domestic energy demands. The UAE has plans already in place for the use of nuclear energy in the future. The construction of the first nuclear power plant is underway (Fath et al., 2013).

In 2008, an extensive feasibility study was carried out to determine the viability of various energy sources such as oil, gas, nuclear, coal, and other renewable energy sources. Out of the listed alternative energy sources, nuclear energy emerged the most viable choice of energy sources after considering costs, environment, security of supply, and long-term economic development. The country’s energy demand is currently growing at a rate of 9%, which is more than 3 times the average growth rate of demand for energy in the world (Hamed et al., 2010). Hence, only nuclear energy can meet this demand where the country’s demand for electricity is projected to reach 40GW by 2020 (Soori & Alzubaidi, 2011). The country is already a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is a pact that ensures that nuclear energy-producing countries do not use nuclear resources to make weapons of mass destruction or other uses that may endanger the security of the world and the safety of people within and outside the country.

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The country has also signed many other protocols, including a 2009 UAE and US Section 123 Agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation between the two countries and in extension, the world (Nader, 2009). In 2009, the country’s nuclear energy regulator, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), successfully awarded a USD$20 billion bid to a coalition of companies, led by Korea Electric Power, for the construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant in a location known as Barakah, which is more than 300 Kilometers from the capital Abu Dhabi. The flagship project and the construction of the first reactor of the four scheduled reactors began in 2011. It is scheduled to be operational in 2017. The construction of the second reactor began in 2013. It is expected to be completed in 2018 (Dincer & Rosen, 2012). The construction of the other two reactors has already commenced. It will be completed in 2019 and 2020 respectively (Darwish & Mohtar, 2013). The capacity of the four reactors is expected to reach 5.6GW, which will play a critical role in supporting the country’s increasing demand for energy.

The third alternative energy source is the renewable energy. Renewable energy consists of solar, hydroelectric, and wind energy. However, because the UAE is a desert country, hydroelectric power is ruled out. This situation leaves the country with the option of wind and solar energy. In recognition of the country’s need for renewable and clean energy, it has put a major plan of increasing its dependence on renewable and clean energy to 30% by 2030 (Lesage, van de Graaf, & Westphal, 2010). However, that plan is very ambitious, owing to the fact that the country produces less than 1% of its energy from renewable power as opposed to over 99% that it generates through gas and oil. Currently, the country has focused majorly on the solar energy, which already has two power plants that supply approximately 113 MW to the national power grid. The country is already undertaking more than USD$1billion worth of projects on renewable energy to increase its renewable energy dependency (Bachellerie, 2012).

Another important source of renewable energy is the waste-to-energy supply. The country produces waste at a rate of 2.5 Kg per person. The figure, which is very high, offers a potential for production of biogas that can be used to produce renewable energy. Currently, only Sharjah, the third largest city in the UAE, has commissioned a plant for the use of waste-to-energy technology (Islam, Alili, Kubo, & Ohadi, 2010). The country must also consider wind energy as a source of alternative energy source. However, many hindrances to this alternative energy have been witnessed in the country due to the slow winds that it experiences. The situation also makes wind energy unviable for a large production of dependable energy. For instance, the country has winds of 4.5 meters per second. Consequently, this speed offers very low generating potential (Lesage et al., 2010). Indeed, the UAE has the lowest generating potential of energy from wind as compared to the other GCC countries. Despite the slow wind speeds, the country has also invested in wind energy (Kazim, 2010). For instance, the country’s 850 KW capacity wind turbine installed in Sir Bani Yas Island is already in place. However, this wind machines receives currents of air of only 5m/s, among the lowest of any offshore wind turbine in the world. The plant’s capacity is only 15%, which is very low as compared to the 20%-40% average capacity of offshore winds (Kazim, 2010). Despite these challenges, Abu Dhabi is pushing ahead with 20-30MW wind energy plant on the same island. Other assessments have identified the potential of a 100MW wind energy power plant on remote islands in the Persian Gulf Sea, near the Saudi border. In the future, this plant may be a viable project for the country to consider.

Despite the prospects that renewable energy sources offer to the power-hungry nation, various challenges are associated with them. For instance, solar energy has its obvious drawbacks, which include the fact that it can be disrupted by clouding during the day and lack of sunlight at night. Although the UAE is a desert country, which receives enormous amounts of solar light and energy, it cannot wholly replace the conventional power generation sources with solar energy and hence the need for solar energy to develop parallel with the more reliable and conventional power sources (Jefferson, 2006). On the other hand, the low speed of wind that is experienced in the country is an obvious drawback for future prospects on the development of wind power.

Increasing the Efficiency of the Current Gas and Oil Production

The first step towards more efficiency is through the change of government policies on energy subsidy that is offered to citizens. The government covers for more than 70% and 50% of energy costs for citizens and expatriates respectively. The plan makes energy access very cheap, hence promoting high power consumption behaviors in the country (Darwish & Mohtar, 2013). This approach does not adhere to the demand-supply approach that is economically sensible and hence the reason for the inefficiency of the current gas and oil production. It is evident that there is the need for the demand-side management program, which will increase energy prices and hence offer a sensible and economically sound rise of energy demand in the UAE.

If the souk for any merchandise operates flawlessly at the viable balance, the net effect of subsidies is the hiking of the delivery of commodities and services at levels that are above the equilibrium capacity. This situation creates the emergence of a deadweight loss, which refers to the value above which subsidy costs surpass the gains from a subsidy (Kym & Will, 2011). The amount of burden is proportionate to the bulk of the injected financial support. This finding is also part of the witnessed wastefulness and a souk malfunction. For this reason, some economists claim that subsidies are undesirable in a competitive market. The claim is particularly significant in cases where foreign competition is desired. In support of this assertion, Westcott and Young (2004) assert that instead of lowering the prices of goods and services, subsidies make goods that are produced within a nation cheaper in comparison with those that are produced in foreign nations, something that incredibly reduces foreign competition. In the context of gas and oil products in the UAE, giving subsidies implies that the nation has to pay for extra costs above the local oil prices on the imported oil products to offset deficits of oil needs. To this extent, subsidizing oil production and processing is an expensive activity, which increases the demand for oil-related products, including electricity. It is important for consumers to reduce their consumption levels through reviewing the oil subsidization policy in the UAE.

Although the review of subsidization policy can help to enhance oil sustainability in the UAE, the subsidy program is a political issue upon which the government gets it legitimacy. Consequently, an abrupt elimination or drastic reduction of subsidy can cause major political unrest and disruptions that the government cannot risk (Wan et al., 2011). However, a gradual reduction of subsidies will definitely cause major reductions in demand for power, which can increased the country’s oil and gas production efficiency. The other option is to reduce or eliminate subsidies that are offered to expatriates who can offer an important saving of power due to the higher numbers in the country. This move can ensure more efficiency for the country’s current gas and oil production.

The second imperative strategy that the country can use to augment its effectiveness of the current oil and gas production is through the adoption of energy-saving techniques that will reduce the energy consumption capacities at the domestic and commercial ranks. For example, the building sector has very few regulations that focus on energy saving mechanisms. This situation leads to the installation of high consumption air conditioning electronics, which end up increasing the country’s power consumption. Currently, air conditioning accounts for more than 70% of the domestic power consumption in the UAE. Targeting this segment will definitely offer an important reprieve to the power consumption problem that the country is facing (Islam et al., 2010).

The UAE can increase the efficiency of its current gas and oil production by reducing power consumption by households. This strategy calls for the adoption of green building concepts. Low energy consuming buildings need to have both energy sufficiency and energy efficiency. They must also be self-sustaining. This claim means that green buildings have a high capacity of reducing energy consumption rates in terms of operating energy that is required to power equipment and heating. To this end, the green movement prescribes the usage of materials, which have a low embodied energy, in the construction of green buildings. Such materials include wood. Therefore, since steel has a high embodied energy, it is not a preferred green-building material.

Green buildings require the used materials to be highly recyclable. Steel perhaps fits well in this category of materials. On the other hand, although wood may be replenished, the rate at which forests are disappearing is alarming to the extent that many countries have resorted to restricting the disturbance of some species of trees, which are under the threat of extinction. Therefore, the UAE needs to search new materials that will reduce the energy that is used in air conditioning.

As a power-saving strategy, despite facing some challenges on the practicality of the development of green buildings, some aspects of the technology are realizable. For instance, it is practical to build a house that has a low operating energy. For instance, houses without air leakages can be designed and constructed successfully. This goal is accomplished through constructing double-walled houses with the space between the two walls being airtight. This design incredibly aids in the reduction of total energy loss from the interior of the house so that minimal heating is required, especially during cold weather. In addition, excellent glass panes, ceilings, grounds, and fortifications that have additional padding are also commercially viable to make. Other practical strategies include a proper design of houses to take full advantage of natural lighting so that the necessity for electrical lighting is minimized. Investments in new designs that make optimal use of natural lighting constitute an important strategy for reducing the amount of electrical power energy that the UAE domestic consumers use. The strategy translates to low consumption of oil in its production.

The third approach is the country’s desalination plants that consume enormous amounts of power. Desalination plants allow the country to supply fresh water by desalinating the salty seawater (Dargin, 2010). However, the technologies that are used in these plants are high-power consumption technologies that must be addressed if the country wants to realize oil and gas efficiency. With the demand for fresh water rising, so will the need for electricity towards desalination. In this case, the desalination sector, which takes approximately 3.5% of the overall national power consumption, must be seriously considered. New and more power-efficient desalination technologies will have to be adopted. For example, the UAE needs to invest more in technologies such as PX pressure exchangers that are used in Hadera Desalination Plant in Israel.

PX pressure exchangers are creations of the ERI, a leading global organization in the design and manufacturing of devices for energy recovery in desalination plants. Through the reduction of energy consumption via a recovery process, the UAE can reduce the cost of running desalination plants through the reduction of power requirements. Indeed, ERI PX exchangers operate at very high-efficiency levels (98%). In addition to the reduction of power requirements, energy-saving technologies can also reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions. For example, PX devices can reduce carbon dioxide emission by about 2.3 million tons each year for big desalination plants such as the Hadera Plant. They can also save up to 60% of the total power requirements. This finding translates to low energy production to drive the plants in the UAE while at the same time availing water at lower prices within the country.

Creating Sustainable Gas Development

The UAE can use several approaches to creating sustainability of its gas and oil production such as diversifying sources, for instance, through the adoption of carbon dioxide flooding (CO2 EOR), solar, renewable energy, and even nuclear supplies. In the former process, the country should support the technologies at the disposal of GASCO and other affiliated companies that are involved in the production of gas and oil. Carbon dioxide flooding is a technique that allows the extraction more oil in depleted or high viscosity fields (Lesage et al., 2010). Further, it also allows the storing of carbon dioxide that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere. The stored gas can then be reused instead of natural gas that is required for the re-injection process. The country’s oil fields are well spread-out. Hence, it can be very easy for carbon dioxide to be channeled to a central storage and then be redistributed to oil fields. Currently, approximately 40% of the UAE’s natural gas is used in the mining of oil through the re-injection process. As such, by increasing the tapping and storing of Carbon dioxide through the carbon dioxide flooding process, the country will make an important saving that will guarantee more natural gas to be used in alternative activities and hence more efficiency.

Another major activity that can be adopted to increase the sustainability of oil and gas production in the UAE is through the replacement of carbon dioxide and natural gas in the Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) process with Nitrogen. Gaseous nitrogen has been used successfully in the EOR. Hence, the UAE should consider it as a very viable alternative. Currently, the cost that is associated with CO2 is prohibitive. It has therefore put nitrogen as a viable solution (Hertog & Luciani, 2009). In this case, the production cost of nitrogen is one-quarter to half the cost of natural gas. As such, by adopting nitrogen gas, the country will save a lot of natural gas that can then be diverted towards other domestic uses, which can help to reduce the costs that go towards the importation of natural gas from Qatar.

Conclusion

The issue of sustainable gas production in the United Arab Emirates arises from the current energy production challenges that the UAE finds itself in. Despite having the world fourth and fifth proven oil and gas reserves, the country is a net importer of natural gas. Its current production does not meet its domestic demand, and hence the need for sustainability measures to be adopted as discussed above. With more than 50% of natural gas being used for domestic purposes such as in the production of electricity, a further 40% being used in oil production, and the remaining 10% being exported to Japan, the country has no alternative but to import the deficit from Qatar. To address these challenges, the country has no option but to invest in alternative energy sources such as nuclear energy, solar, and wind energy among others.

The current more than USD$20billion nuclear power project in Barakah is a clear show of the commitment of the UAE to alternative energy. The country has also shown commitment to the adoption of solar and wind energies, which although do not have the potential to replace the non-renewable energy, are important in helping to reduce over-reliance on the existing energy sources. However, the country should revise its current power subsidy program, which has fueled the demand for high-energy consumption due to its affordability. The adoption of other technologies in desalination, as well as in the EOR, is also a good step towards the right direction. Concisely, the journey towards sustainable gas production in the UAE is a long one. However, it is the only way to go if the country desires to realize more efficiency in gas and oil production.

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