What have been the most relevant highlights of 2019 and 1H2020?
We have always done a monthly research series on energy and in 2019, we started doing one on sustainability. The Al-Attiyah awards night had been running for eight years, but, unfortunately, we had to cancel it in 2020 because of the pandemic. Another important set of events that we had to cancel was the luncheon party that we arrange every two or three months to gather all the CEOs of our member companies and invite experts to have discussions on particular topics. We have replaced those with webinars and podcasts, which in itself was quite a change for us.
What is your strategy for international partnerships and expansion?
At our first board meeting, we presented plans for a long list of initiatives, but the board quite wisely advised us against growing too quickly. In 2020, we have been expanding internationally on the back of podcasts and webinars. We partner with other broadcasters as well and we use their circulation lists to send out to other viewers. We will probably keep doing webinars and podcasts after the pandemic is over because they have become a part of our strategy. We had plans to go to Glasgow for the COP 2020 and do something special, but we will now have to wait until 2021. Whether it takes place next year or is held online, it will mark a major moment for us.
What can you tell us about the current status of the oil and gas sector in Qatar?
The supply of oil, gas, and petrochemicals has not been affected at all, which is a good sign. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about prices and demand. In 2019, there was an oversupply of oil and gas, and in 2020, the sector has been hit with the double whammy of oversupply and reduced demand. It is difficult to anticipate what will happen, but the situation remains challenging,
What do you think is the competitive advantage of Qatar LNG gas in international markets?
What has happened with the gas market is that Qatar Gas has become the lowest cost supplier in the world. This means no other country can compete with Qatar on price, allowing Qatar to adopt an aggressive strategy at will. Australia is trying to compete but apart from North West Shelf, all the other projects in Australia are high cost. Moreover, the Shell Gorgon project is underdoing maintenance, and as a result, Australia is losing market share. While other countries such as Malaysia and Russia are also losing market share, Qatar has managed to increase its share of the LNG gas market.
What is the significance of the North Field expansion project for Qatar?
The market will not start to pick up in 2020 and people are even talking about further declines in 2021. However, now is a good time to start building because it is cheaper to do business with contractors, engineering companies, and equipment suppliers. The market will probably start picking up in 2024, which means 2025 and 2026 will be a good time to come on stream. Qatar's economy will also benefit from capital expenditure as billions of dollars will be spent, some in the domestic market. When built, Qatar's new LNG mega-trains will further boost the economy. This virtuous circle will continue as new profits will be reinvested into the economy. LNG plants do not require a lot of manpower because machines do the majority of work, and overall, although the oil and gas industry is not a huge employer, but it will generate some new high-quality jobs.