The Business Year

Sheikh Khalid Bin Khalifa Al-Thani

QATAR - Energy & Mining

The Bottom Line

CEO, Qatargas

Bio

Sheikh Khalid Bin Khalifa Al-Thani has an MBA from Pacific Lutheran University in the US, and first joined Qatar Petroleum in 1991. He progressed through various positions, including Business Development Manager of Mesaieed Industrial City. In 2007, he was appointed Director of Ras Laffan Industrial City, later being appointed CEO of Qatargas in 2010. In addition to this position, he is Vice-Chairman and CEO of Laffan Refinery Company and Vice-Chairman of Qatar Gas Transport Company.

"We have a vision for 2015, which has been set out for the company. That vision is to be the world’s premier LNG company."

What is the story behind Qatargas becoming the largest LNG producer in the world?

The North Field is the single largest non-associated gas field in the world. Qatargas was founded in order to ensure the better utilization of the field, which contains large quantities of non-associated gas—this is gas that occurs in the reservoir without a significant presence of crude oil. Under the vision of His Highness the Emir and the leadership of His Excellency the Minister of Industry and Energy, Qatar decided to utilize these gas resources as a clean energy fuel. With our fleet of LNG carriers, LNG gives the company the flexibility to access any part of the world with ease. From Qatar, we are able to ship any volumes to any part of the world, which is essential in the gas industry. The bottom line is, LNG is a form of gas that allows for many opportunities for the producer.

How is the oversupply of LNG in the world and the recent shale-gas revolution affecting the market for LNG?

We are an operating company, and therefore we are able to control the amount of LNG that we produce. We are not worried about the oversupply, because what we have seen in terms of the energy demand and the growth worldwide is that every single drop is important. We are currently working at full capacity in order to ensure we fulfill the agreements we have with our existing customers all over the world.

“We have a vision for 2015, which has been set out for the company. That vision is to be the world’s premier LNG company.”

How would you characterize the appetite for long-term LNG buyers in Asia?

We recently completed the first LNG shipment to Singapore, and we commissioned the first LNG terminal there. The Asian appetite is very high, and we have seen growth in China, India, and especially Japan, where there is an increase in demand for energy, specifically of gas as it diversifies away from the nuclear energy option in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. The demand in Asia is quite high; we have also seen conversions of coal-powered plants to gas-powered plants.

What role does Qatargas play in providing energy security to Europe?

We have been supplying Europe through our Qatar terminal, which is the Southhook Terminal in Wales. The capacity of that terminal is 15 million tons, though we do serve various other terminals. Of course, being a global supplier of LNG, we also have contracts with other European countries.

What implications will the new gas discoveries in Block Four of the North Field have on production?

There is a moratorium right now in place for the North Field, and indeed for any further fields that are discovered, until 2015. Obviously, future plans regarding the utilization of these resources will be discussed at the appropriate time.

What is Qatargas doing in regard to developing courses with universities?

We are working very closely with universities and research centers in Qatar. Regarding the universities, they supply the training courses, and we sponsor their students in specific fields related to the gas industry. There are programs set by the universities here in Qatar, and those programs cater to the demands and needs of the sector. We were also instrumental in establishing Qatar University’s Gas Processing Center. There is a lot of support for programs in schools, and just recently we financed the building of a block of six additional classrooms at the Qatar Industrial School. These are examples of our corporate social responsibility, and there are many examples like this. Every April, we sponsor an annual beach cleanup event in al-Fuwairit in the north of Qatar. Since this is a prime turtle-nesting zone, we felt it appropriate as a responsible corporate citizen to do our best to ensure the turtles have a clean environment. We were also pleased to participate in the “Japan-Qatar Week” celebrations. Japan is very important to us, being a foundation customer. The first contract signed with our Japanese customers was in 1992, and we have maintained our partnership with these customers over the years. We have great respect for the Japanese. We appreciate their continuing support and trust that they appreciate our support as a reliable and flexible supplier.

What does Qatargas do to address Qatarization?

We have a very comprehensive localization program and have set ourselves clear targets for Qatarization, which currently stands at 26% of the company’s workforce. In 2013, we are targeting to recruit around 128 Qataris, which is a challenge for the company to achieve; however, in 2012 we recruited 104 students. That is quite an accomplishment because there are so many other potential employers aiming at essentially the same talent pool. Qatar has a young labor market and there is great potential and numerous opportunities. Qatargas was one of the first companies in the country to start these initiatives to attract young people into the company. You could say we were pioneers of training and development initiatives that have now become standard throughout the employment sector in Qatar. At the same time, individuals who gained skills and experience with Qatargas found opportunities to move into very senior positions with newer, emerging organizations in the state. You could say that Qatargas continues to be in a way a major “incubator of talent” for the state’s industrial enterprises.

What efforts is Qatargas making in regard to sustainability?

We have a vision for 2015, which has been set out for the company. That vision is to be the world’s premier LNG company, known for its people, innovation, operational excellence, and corporate social responsibility. Qatargas works closely with its employees using the skills and diversity of our workforce as a significant source of strength. We are also known globally to all of our customers that we are a reliable and secure supplier of LNG. The company is well established. We have a sustainability program and our strategy moving forward is closely linked in with State of Qatar’s National Vision 2030. We have established and participated in numerous environmental projects that have positive business and environmental impacts, such as the $1 billion Jetty Boil-off Gas (JBOG) Project designed to capture gas at the loading jetties and reduce flaring during the loading of ships. Instead of flaring the gas, we capture it so it goes back into the network. In fact, there is enough energy recovered by the JBOG Project to power a small city.

What is your outlook for the energy sector in the long term?

Currently, we produce 42 million tons of LNG. If you are asking about further expansion, then this all depends on the moratorium set for the North Field. From there, we will know which direction the government and Qatar Petroleum is heading toward and whether it will increase the LNG business and production or not. It is still too early to talk about this because the deferral will not end until 2015. Having said that, I can see that there is always room for growth. We have just signed a contract for a new Laffan Refinery to be called Laffan Refinery 2. We are operating Laffan Refinery 1, and now we are looking at expanding capacity and adding a second refinery.

What are the medium-term strategies and targets of Qatargas?

Our plan is to continue our efforts to be a reliable and sustainable producer of LNG and to meet global demand for this clean fuel. We aim to continue operating safely and achieve our aspiration to become the world’s premier LNG company. We are not just interested in being the biggest, we want to be premier, which is about quality, class, people, innovation, and excellence. That is what we want to be in the medium term, and of course, also to meet His Highness the Emir’s requirements for the 2030 vision.

© The Business Year – May 2013

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