SANA’A, Yemen, Oct. 10, 2000 (Yemen Times)—The European Union and Yemen have a common goal – to promote the dialogue between European Union and Yemeni energy policy makers to mutual advantage and to enhance co-operation between the European Union and Yemen in the development of sustainable and non-polluting energy sources.

To this end, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Energy and Transport has in 1998 allocated – 80,000 to a first project under the Commission’s SYNERGY Program, entitled “EU-Yemen Energy Policy Dialogue”. European and Yemeni Representatives of the Oil, Gas and Power Sub-sectors have since met 3 times and exchanged information and views on present energy sector policies in Yemen and the EU, future trends and areas of cooperation.

The conclusions of this 1st phase of the SYNERGY Program were discussed in Sana’a on September 24 and 25. Yemen Times reporter Ismail Al Ghabry took the opportunity to record some observations of participants. He also conducted an interview with Elias P.

Karidoyannis, power system engineering expert: Some of the observations: The absence of an integrated energy resource planning in Yemen perspired as one of the deficits, that needs to be addressed by policy makers in this country. Natural gas, which has thus far been primarily considered as a potential export commodity needs to be more aggressively promoted as the energy source of choice for domestic power generation and other applications. That will thereby produce immediate returns by displacing fuel oil, extending at the same time the life of the country’s crude oil reserves. The plans for the new Mareb power station, which will be fired by natural gas is considered a step in the right direction. Possible synergies between the impending LNG project and future domestic natural gas based power generation in Yemen were also highlighted by the participants. Yemen’s potential for the use of renewable energies, notably photovoltaics, was equally underlined. Further de-regulation of the electricity sub-sector is, however, required to make the use of these technologies, which are so widely employed in the region, competitive in Yemen.

About the workshop’s objectives we met with Elias P. Karidoyannis, power system Engineering expert who gave answers to our questions as follows:

Q: Will you please shed some light on the objective of this workshop?

A: The main objective is to take over the work that we did before energy policies in Yemen addressing the major issues such as developing the natural gas in Yemen and how that can be utilized, whether it should be in the power sector or in the domestic sector. So a lot of progress has been done since a year ago. We want now to clarify these potential issues and design the next steps for European Union and the Yemeni government.

The first workshop was started on June 1999 and we had two workshops now; one of them on oil and gas and the second on power and renewable energy resources. This final workshop that we are holding today deals with policies and strategies that we should follow in the future and what should be the next step of collaboration between the Yemen and EU.

Q: How do you assess the collaboration between the Yemeni government and European Union?

A: Well, there is an agreement signed between Yemen and EU called the EU-Yemen Cooperation Agreement in which cooperation addresses various sectors. One of these sectors is the energy sector. Of course, there are other European programs such as the one that has financed these workshops called the seminary program. This will continue in the future and there will be a call for proposals in October and November for new projects. So it all depends on the priorities that the ministries will place on the outcome of this final workshop in order to continue this collaboration. That is so because the overall umbrella Yemen-EU agreement has to have as the basis for financing the projects.

Q: How do you find the Yemeni participation in this workshop and which ministries and organizations participated in?

A: We had a very good group of participants from the Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Electricity and Water, rural electrification, natural gas and the Ministry of Oil. The participation is of quite high level and has been quite useful to us in designing the future steps and in setting up the strategies. Generally speaking, all the parties involved in this workshop have been quite helpful and cooperative.

Q: From your point of view as a specialist in this field how do you assess the future of natural gas in Yemen?

A: Some decisions have been made by the gas company and the power company where they have decided to construct with the help of international funds a new power plant in Mareb governorate where the gas field is located. Of course, this seems to be a very reasonable decision due to the fact that it is an immediate project, something that would start as soon as finances are acquired. The electricity will be supplied not only to the west of the country but also to the east of the country and contribute to the overall electrification of Yemen. Of course, as more income will be generated from natural gas, the natural gas pipe lines can supply urban areas and supply them with gas. But one has to start from some place. The decision that the Yemeni government has taken seems to be very reasonable and I wish best success for this project.

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