UAE, Sharjah 2017 | ENERGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hatem Al Mosa, CEO of Sharjah National Oil Company (SNOC), on meeting domestic oil and gas demand while adapting to global trends toward renewable energies.

Hatem Al Mosa,
Hatem Al Mosa has more than 30 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry. He received his bachelor’s in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1984, and a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1986. He started his career with Amoco Sharjah Oil Company as a plant engineer in 1986. He held various engineering, operations, and integrity management roles in Amoco, BP, and Crescent Petroleum. He joined SNOC when it was established in 2010 as a technical control manager, then became an operations manager. He was named CEO of SNOC and Secretary General of Sharjah Petroleum Council by Emiri Decree in November 2015.

What have been some of the major milestones you have accomplished as CEO in the last few years?

In the last several years we have initiated work on four major projects. The first one is the development of our LNG import and regasification business. The plans for this project were developed in February 2016, and in October 2016 we signed an MoU with Uniper as a JV partner to implement the project. Another major milestone for the project was our signature of a Gas Sales Agreement (GSA) with SEWA in May 2017. This agreement creates the critical mass for the project and supports the feasibility for us to continue developing it. We are targeting the full Northern Emirates market, not just Sharjah, and as such we are looking into collaborating with Dubai and Abu Dhabi to evolve this project as a strategic energy project for the entire UAE, supporting the energy security of the entire country. The second project is a gas exploration program. This is the first exploration project for SNOC. We completed a 3D seismic survey that covered more than 1,000sqkm using the latest technology. The high-quality resolution of the technology we are using now allows us to pinpoint sites with much greater accuracy. The geology of the Northern Emirates is extremely complex, which is why many wells missed their targets in the past. The third project is the LPG Blending Project. The project is an effort to divert our LPG production to the local market. Historically, our entire LPG production was exported to Japan. At the end of 2016, we decided not to renew our export commitment and instead decided to divert all our LPG to the local market.

How will the envisaged LNG Joint Project with Uniper impact Sharjah's energy supply and the energy supply of the UAE?

Gas availability has been an issue for the Northern Emirates for the past 15 years; demand has been skyrocketing and our production has been declining. In 2003, we reached the point where we could not satisfy even all of Sharjah's summer demand. This forced the various Emirates to look for alternative resources. The Dolphin Project closed most of the gap for Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but the Northern Emirates remained starved for gas and when they did get it they paid a premium. While there have been a number of intermediary arrangements, Sharjah has had to burn liquid fuel in the summer. SNOC's LNG Project should essentially close the gap between demand and supply for Sharjah and for the Northern Emirates. The expected capacity of LNG import and regasification will exceed Sharjah's demand gap, and there will be plenty of extra capacity to satisfy any other demand within the Northern Emirates. Still, this does not mitigate the huge swings between summer and winter. Domestic summer power demand is three times greater than in the winter. As a result, we are considering the fourth major project, a gas storage project. With the new LNG program, we will have excess gas, and with proper planning we will be able to make the gas storage project a reality.

How does SNOC plan on modifying its operations to adapt to global trends toward preservation of environment and renewable energies?

Historically, the environment question has been a major point of focus for SNOC and the previous holders of the concession. Since 1999, we have had a very extensive program aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions. BP had a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 10% over 10 years, and Sharjah cut more than 50% of emissions over the first five years of the program. When I joined SNOC in 2011, I enacted a set of strict rules regarding acceptable emissions during our flaring operations. We are the best company in the country, perhaps the entire region, in terms of minimizing flaring.