By TBY | Qatar | Mar 25, 2015
Qatar is a hydrocarbon giant of global proportions. As in all other large energy producing countries, the extraction and production of energy sources places a heavy burden on the local […]
Qatar is a hydrocarbon giant of global proportions. As in all other large energy producing countries, the extraction and production of energy sources places a heavy burden on the local environment. Being the world’s largest LNG producer, it comes as no surprise that Qatar has the second-largest ecological footprint per capita in the world, based on a 2014 report. The organization behind this report, the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), warned the country by stating that, “if all people on the planet had the footprint of the average resident of Qatar, we would need 4.8 planets.” When looking more closely at the findings on Qatar, the research stipulates that carbon emissions resulting from the burning of fossil fuels accounted for more than two-thirds of the country’s footprint.
It might sound unlikely, but the outcome of this research has assured the Qatari leadership that it is on the right track. In the previous report, which reflected 2008 numbers, Qatar topped the world in terms of its consumption and waste, recording a footprint per capita that was over 30% larger than the latest number. This significant decrease can be largely ascribed to two factors that have been implemented since 2008. The first and foremost policy that has helped Qatar to reduce its environmental footprint is the Qatar National Vision 2030, which was launched in late 2008. This national vision placed environmental development as one of its four most important objectives, which calls for harmony between economic growth, social development, and environmental protection.
Qatar works toward that national vision by setting short-term strategies that specify the steps that need to be taken in order to achieve the vision. In regard of limiting its environmental impact, the current Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-16 has set out the key objective to halve the amount of gas flaring between 2008 and 2016. According to data from 2008, flaring of gas accounted for 12% of the national emissions and was identified as an area in which rapid progress could be made. As a result, the local hydrocarbon sector, under the leadership of Qatar Petroleum, adopted rigorous policies in order to bring down the amount of gas flaring.
In addition to the national strategy, Qatar also took the lead as the first GCC country to join the World Bank-led Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) partnership in 2009. Signing this international partnership really reflected the country’s commitment to reduce flaring of gas as a concrete contribution to improving energy efficiency and mitigating climate change. After the renewal of the partnership in 2012 His Excellency Dr. Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry, illustrated its importance by stating that “This partnership agreement supports Qatar’s ambition of becoming an energy leader that provides critically needed lower emission and environmentally friendly LNG to all corners of the globe, while maintaining economic diversification and environmental stewardship. I am confident that this phase of the partnership will deliver measurable greenhouse gas reductions and I look forward to our continuous and productive cooperation with the World Bank.”
At the end of 2014, it became clear that Qatar has made some significant improvements with respect to reducing flaring. This is the result of a national policy and drive that has convinced the hydrocarbon industry of the importance of rapidly reducing the practice. A clear example of this is Maersk Oil Qatar, which, in collaboration with Qatar Petroleum, has reduced flaring by 90% since 2007. This achievement was subsequently recognized by the World Bank Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership with the “Excellence in Flaring Reduction” award. Another great example comes from native giant RasGas, which reduced the amount of flared gas to 0.87% of its sour feed gas in 2013. Considering that 3.83% of gas was flared back in 2006, this must be seen as a great achievement.
These numbers and initiatives lead to the conclusion that Qatar takes the matter seriously and has already found great methods that contribute to realizing the goal that is set for 2016. However, Qatar’s efforts to shrink its environmental footprint are not limited to either flaring or 2016, as the leadership has continuously stressed the importance of sustainable behavior.