From left: Moderator Hilda Houwer, Partner and Global Head of Advisory for Oil and Gas, KPMG; Peter Plug, associate director of consultancy for Europe AF mercados EMI; Jonathan Robinson, Managing Director, Head of Project Finance, HSBC Bank Middle East Ltd UAE; Hassan Mustafa, MD, Debt Capital Market & Risk, Royal Bank of Scotland; Giel-Jan Van der Tol, GM Wholesale Banking, Emirates NBD, UAE, and Jesdev Saggar, Partner - Deloitte, UAE, during the Dubai Global Energy Forum at the Dubai World Trade Centre exhibition hall in Dubai. Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: A UAE resident consumes 8,271 kilogrammes of oil equivalent energy (kgoe) per annum, much lower than some of its neighbours, such as Qatar which has a per capita energy consumption of 12,799 kgoe and 12,204 by the people of Kuwait.

In comparison, the per capita energy consumption in the United Kingdom and the United States are 3,254 kgoe and 7,164 kgoe, respectively while on an average Indians consume 566 kgoe per annum. Although oil producing countries has had high per capita energy consumption, Iceland, surprisingly, tops the list with 16,882 kgoe, followed by Trinidad and Tobago with 15,913 kgoe. Data for all the countries have not been updated beyond 2010.

The UAE is the world’s seventh biggest energy producer, with proven oil reserves of 97.8 billion barrels — enough to last more than 100 years, if pumped at the current level.

Dr. Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, said, “The UAE Government is pursuing a rational policy to meet the goals of sustainable development adopted by the UAE. This policy is focused on three major tracks: firstly, the development of the oil industry to reduce the negative impact resulting from the sector. Secondly, addressing all forms of excessive use of energy resources, in order to minimise the negative impact of excessive consumption on air quality and climate change, and thirdly, to diversify energy sources to reduce pressure on strategic oil stocks in order to ensure the longevity of this non-renewable national source of wealth for as long as possible.”

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) data from 1990 to 2008, the average energy use per person increased 10 per cent while world population increased 27 per cent.

Regional energy use also grew from 1990 to 2008: the Middle East increased by 170 per cent, China by 146 per cent, India by 91 per cent, Africa by 70 per cent, Latin America by 66 per cent, the USA by 20 per cent, the EU-27 block by 7 per cent, and world overall grew by 39 per cent.

Due to these factors, energy security has become crucial for sustainable development for all countries, especially the UAE — the second biggest Arab Economy, officials said.

“Our domestic consumption of oil and gas is rising fast. Moreover, we are already a net importer of natural gas. Demand growth requires us to consider diversifying our gas import options including liquefied natural gas (LNG) and will require us to develop the challenging local gas resources,” Suhail Al Mazroui, UAE Minister of Energy, said.

“In order to protect our fossil fuel resources, we need to ensure that we are as efficient as possible in what we consume. We have seen important steps in this direction, especially here in Dubai with its target of 30 per cent demand reduction by 2030,” added Al Mazroui.

Fatih Birol, IAE’s chief economist, said that reducing fossil fuel use was crucial to curbing global temperature rise, but added that improving the energy efficiency of homes, vehicles and industry was an easier short-term strategy.

In a recent report, he noted that the 19.5 million residents of New York State consume as much energy as the 800 million in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) and that, even with President Obama’s automotive fuel standards, European vehicles were on average more than 30 per cent more fuel efficient than American ones.

According to the World Resources Institute, the UAE uses 481 tonnes of oil equivalent to produce $1 million of GDP. By contrast, Norway only requires 172 tonnes of oil equivalent.

Al Mazrouei said, “This means they are producing many of the same products and growth with much less energy, even though they are also blessed with energy. Therefore, our efficiency efforts must not only focus on reducing consumption in absolute terms, but also on making us competitive with other countries. We need to use less energy to grow our economy.”

Due to these factors, the UAE is developing nuclear power plants for a better mix of its energy sources and reducing its dependence on fossil fuel.

He said, work is now underway on 5.6GW of safe nuclear power for peaceful means. “We are developing this power source as part of a world-class collaboration to avoid risks of nuclear proliferation and ensure safety. By 2020 we expect nuclear power to account for as much as 25 per cent of our electricity,” Al Mazroui concluded.