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Call for tapping unconventional gas to meet growing demand



Muscat: With worldwide energy consumption projected to surge by approximately 50 per cent in just two decades, there has been growing urgency for unconventional solutions in the gas sector — particularly in Gulf countries like Oman, where hydrocarbons make up 86 per cent of government revenues and fuel economic growth.

While the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA region) holds 40 per cent of the world's proven gas reserves, it only accounts for 15 per cent of global gas production, indicating the massive untapped potential, said a press release.

In order to tackle the evolving challenges, opportunities and trends in the global gas sector, Knowledge Expansion — a leading regional oil and gas knowledge transfer consultancy — is organising the International Unconventional Gas Conference and Exhibition (IUGCE), between January 20 and 22, at the Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Palace, here.

Oman is an ideal host, being the Middle East's largest oil and gas producer that is not a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).

The high-profile event will be chaired by Salim bin Said Al Aufi, undersecretary for Oman's Ministry of Oil & Gas. As a platform for futuristic ideas that will shape gas exploration and production, the event will attract influential decision makers, thought leaders and stakeholders in the global industry to maximise the potential of unconventional gas. This refers to gas that requires higher than industry-standard levels of technology or investment to extract.

The high-powered line-up of international speakers includes Raoul Restucci,  managing director of Petroleum Development Oman (PDO); Jerome Ferrier, president of the International Gas Union (IGU); Menahi Al Anzi, deputy chief executive officer of Exploration & Gas for KOC; and David Dalton, Middle East Regional president for BP.

Alternative solutions
Considering the growing demand for gas, driven by the recovering global economy and population growth, the Middle East is seeking to strengthen its position at the forefront of the gas sector by diversifying from conventional gas reserves to its largely untapped unconventional gas reserves.

However, the major challenge is that unconventional gas types like tight gas and shale gas require much more advanced technologies and expertise.

While the region's existing conventional gas fields remain highly productive, Gulf governments have opted for a proactive approach by exploring alternative solutions rather than waiting for conventional gas production to peak or dwindle. Tight gas exploration and appraisals in countries like the Sultanate,
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Algeria, Egypt and Libya have increased and are expected to gain momentum with time. This will ultimately strengthen energy security, unlocking new economical energy sources.

Technological gap
Commenting on the upcoming conference, Rafeeq Kunhi, director at Knowledge Expansion elaborated:
"On one hand, the region has enormous potential in unconventional gas, but on the other hand, we have pinpointed a technological and knowledge gap in this field. Therefore, we have organised this high profile platform where some of the world's most respected experts will converge to empower regional experts through knowledge transfer. This will greatly enrich the region's knowledge reservoir, boosting long-term sustainability and positioning the region at the forefront of the world's unconventional gas sector."

Among other highlights at this year's conference, international experts will share emerging findings from groundbreaking research, success stories and lessons learned from international developments.

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