Khalid al-Awadi, gas operations manager at Emirates General Petroleum Corporation (Emarat), told MEED’s Middle East Aluminium conference in Dubai on 18 February that action is needed in all areas of the UAE gas supply system to increase supplies and improve efficiency.

This should include expanding domestic gas production, increasing imports from Qatar, securing supplies from Iran and creating a national gas supply network to replace the current fragmented one.

He also said that the UAE should push ahead with solar power programmes and establish a nuclear power industry.

“The best thing that could happen to the energy sector of the UAE is nuclear energy,” he said. “It is a baseload energy source and it is carbon dioxide free. It will release gas for industry and free liquids for export.”

Al-Awadi said that the offer made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, during his visit to the federation in January, to supply nuclear power technology was just the beginning.

“The West recognises that the more liquids and gas burned to produce power here will mean less for them,” he said. “You will see, not only France, but other countries will come to the region and say: here is our technology, use it.”

Al-Awadi said that converting 50 per cent of UAE base load production and 20 per cent of its peak load production to nuclear power would eliminate all foreseeable gas shortages.

Al-Awadi said the present capacity of the UAE pipeline gas network was about 9 billion cfd, which is sufficient to deliver the gas the federation needs for the immediate future. The pressing issue is that the gas network was managed by four different entities. “The UAE needs to have the gas grid integrated under a single operator,” he said. “The same goes for the power system.”

Al-Awadi said that the Dolphin pipeline, which is designed to supply 2 billion cfd of gas from Qatar, will soon be operating at full capacity. He said that phase two, which calls for capacity to be increased to more than 3 billion cfd, is unlikely to be operational until up to five years after the originally deadline of 2012.