“Oil era won’t end anytime soon”

HE Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah and Saad Sherida Al Kaabi on stage during the 2017 Al Attiyah International Energy Awards.

The Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah International Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development is a non-profit organisation established to preserve and build upon His Excellency Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah’s 40 years of service in the energy industry. His legacy includes important roles in a variety of senior leadership positions within the government of Qatar and the international community on issues which include climate change and sustainable development. In an interview with Qatar Today, HE Al Attiyah talks about his foundation and its awards ceremony for this year, which will take place on May 7.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your career, and why you started the Al Attiyah Foundation.

I have had a long, fulfilling career in the energy industry, spanning over 40 years, during which I have served my country in a variety of senior leadership positions including Deputy Prime Minister of the State of Qatar, Minister of Energy and Industry, and Chairman and Managing Director of Qatar Petroleum.

Between 1993-2003 I was President of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), presiding over conference meetings eighteen times.  The mission of OPEC is to coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its member countries to ensure the stabilisation of oil markets.  I was also privileged to serve as the Chairman of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in 2006 and the President of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) during COP 18 in Qatar, in 2012.

Throughout my career I’ve strived to help the energy industry grow in a sustainable way and so it was fitting for me to set up the Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah International Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development to preserve and to build upon my experience and that of the Board of Trustees, which consists of distinguished past and present figures and influencers from Qatar’s oil and gas industry. Established in 2015, the Al Attiyah Foundation is a non-profit organization that delivers independent insights, research and thought leadership on issues of critical importance to the energy industry and the sustainable development of the global economy.

The foundation provides a rallying call for like-minded organisations to work together to develop policies and strategic thinking that will assist governments and industry to build a sustainable energy future. It welcomes organisations that wish to partner on projects of mutual interest in the area of energy and sustainable development.

HE Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah, Chairman and Founder of Al Attiyah Foundation.

Tell us a little bit about the awards taking place next month and some of the awards that will be given out this year.

I created The Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah International Energy Awards to recognise the achievements of distinguished individuals with regard to the services provided by them to the global energy industry.

The awards are given annually to individuals for their lifetime achievement in the advancement of the global energy industry in seven categories. This year the event will take place on May 7 at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar. The nominees are voted by an International Selection Committee, which rewards candidates for an outstanding record of accomplishment in their sector over their entire career – men and women who have made an exceptional impact on the energy industry with distinct personal achievements.

AWARD CATEGORIES: Lifetime Achievement Award for

  • Advancement of the Qatar Energy Industry
  • Advancement of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
  • Advancement of Education for Future Energy Leaders
  • Advancement of Producer-Consumer Dialogue
  • Advancement of International Energy Journalism
  • Advancement of Renewable Energy
  • Advancement of International Energy Policy & Diplomacy

What do you think are the greatest challenges Qatar faces in terms of the sustainability of the oil and gas industry today?

Energy, particularly hydrocarbons, has played a crucial role in industrialisation since the beginning of last century. In the Middle East, the energy sector is the backbone of economic development and I see this continuing. However, the energy industry needs to adapt rapidly to a changing business environment whilst addressing climate change and continue to innovate and diversify.

I have often been asked to share my view on what I consider the best way forward for Middle-Eastern countries in a “post oil era”. My response has consistently been that “I do not see the end of the ‘oil era’ for many decades to come”.

But I can understand why people ask me this question, considering the concern for climate change and the steady move towards more renewable energy sources.  However, in the context of climate change and sustainable development, our reference should not be to a ‘post oil era’, but rather a world of collective green growth based on the appropriate energy mix for each country.

As developing countries experience growth, particularly in transportation, power-generation and industrialisation, energy requirements will largely continue to be powered by oil and gas. The very large energy consumers like the USA, China, Japan and others should have a diverse range of energies available to them as part of their sustainable development strategy.

This should be enhanced by technological development and innovative approaches to address challenges such as security of supply, efficient water management, climate change and air pollution.