The power of Doha

This issue of MEE is being published to coincide with POWER-GEN Middle East 2010 taking place in Qatar 4-6 October and once again MEE is pleased to be the official regional publication of this important power and water industry event.

POWER-GEN Middle East is being held in Qatar for the first time in its nine-year history and this is an exciting development and extremely timely, with the growing importance of the country both within the region and around the globe, given that Qatar is set to become the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the world with peak production of 77 million tonnes a year. By comparison with most developed countries, Qatar’s expected double-digit economic expansion this year, on track to hit 16 per cent growth in 2011, is outstanding.

The evidence that Qatar is fast-developing is plain to see. Visitors cannot fail to notice the scale of the development, from the new Doha International Airport being built alongside the current one ” which will eventually be able to handle 50 million passengers a year ” to the sea of cranes working on downtown construction projects and the massive new container port, through to the clear outline and lights shining out at night from the stunning $2.5 billion Pearl Island development. These are just some of the many projects either underway or planned, estimated in total to be costing $66 billion.

All the new development will need to be supported by infrastructure in the form of roads and drainage plus, of course, adequate and reliable electricity and water supplies. Significant investment is being made in all these vital utilities in accordance with a Qatar National Masterplan that projects the country’s population rising from its current level of 1.3 million to around 2.5 million in the coming years.

With all this development planned, it is fortunate that Qatar has fared relatively well through the economic downturn that emerged in 2008, buoyed by its reserves of gas, and to a lesser extent oil. Only Russia and Iran have more natural gas reserves than Qatar, backing Qatar’s claim to be the richest country in the entire Muslim world, based on its GDP per capita.

When the most recent power projects at Mesaieed and Ras Laffan come online, Qatar’s installed capacity of around 9000 MW will be enough to meet the expected domestic demand of 8125 MW by 2012, with some capacity also available for being exported through the newly completed GCC grid interconnection. In early September Qatar announced a deal to supply 150 MW of electricity to Bahrain on a daily basis in order to alleviate a power crisis in its near neighbour.

Demand growth will mean the need for 9184 MW by 2015 but Qatar is not just relying on fossil fuels to meet its future power needs, but is actively looking at both a civil nuclear power option and renewable alternatives in the form of solar thermal-based electricity generation. In June, the country signed up as a member of IRENA, the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency.

According to the Ministry of Energy, Qatar will invest more than $20 billion in the coming decade in the field of power generation and water desalination, in addition to the planned expansion of the transmission and distribution networks for electricity and water. Qatar is planning to invite the private sector to manage its wastewater networks and the country projects that its water demand will rise from 215 million gallons a day in 2009 up to 329 million gallons a day by 2019.

While POWER-GEN Middle East will focus on Qatar and its pioneering role in developing independent water and power projects (IWPPs) in the region, it should not overlook the fact that this model is now fast extending among and beyond the Gulf States, with Jordan about to launch its third IWPP, and with Saudi Arabia and the UAE pursuing several projects, as well as Egypt now preparing to issue a RFP for its Dairut IPP.

This year the POWER-GEN Middle East conference is anticipating reports of a solid bounce back in activity in the region following a couple of tough years in the wake of the collapse in the project finance market. Some 10 000 MW of new power capacity could be contracted to the private sector in the GCC, according a recent MEED Insight report.

POWER-GEN Middle East runs across three parallel tracks amounting to 21 sessions and over 75 presentations. The programme has been designed to reflect the interests of power or water industry professionals focusing on the Middle East. The business strategies discussed and the technological options that are being explained represent the latest thinking in the industry. I look forward to meeting many MEE readers in Doha.

Nigel Blackaby
Associate Editor

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