'Gas should continue to be the fuel of choice'
— Dr. Abdul Rahim Hashim, Vice President,
International Gas Union
Dr. abdul Rahim Hashim, who is also Vice President
- Research & Technology, Petronas, Malaysia, spoke to Pragnya Pandey on
issues relating to natural gas and how developing countries like India should
look at this natural fuel to meet their energy security goals.
What is the International Gas Union?
Founded in 1931, the International Gas Union is a worldwide non-profit
organisation based in Oslo, Norway. The objective of IGU is to promote the
technical and economic progress of the gas industry. The members of IGU are
associations and entities of the gas industries in 67 countries. It cooperates
with many global energy organisations. IGU's working organisation covers all
domains of the gas industry from exploration and production of natural gas on-
or offshore, pipeline and piped distribution systems to customers' premises and
combustion of the gas at the point of use.
Does IGU have any Indian companies as members?
IGU has 69 charter members from 68 countries in the world and 31 associate
members. No Indian company is a member of the IGU yet. However, companies are
most welcome to be a part of the IGU initiative. We have not received any
requests for membership from India, but we are hopeful that our initiatives
would get Indian companies to take a second look at IGU.
How do you see the growth of the gas markets in the world?
With the globalisation of gas markets already under way, energy security,
climate protection, access to reserves, risk management and gas pricing are the
issues that would remain on the top. The global gas trade is evolving with the
earlier gas markets having a regional focus. The mission for gas markets around
the globe should be to secure reliable and affordable energy services with
minimal environmental impact. Natural gas import dependency has been increasing
across the world buoyed by ever-increasing gas demands.
How can the changing global natural gas scenario help combating the climate
challenge being faced across the world?
Continuous improvement in the performance of the gas industry is of vital
importance as the world moves towards a sustainable energy future. Faced with
the climate challenge, gas needs to play a major role in helping the world
overcome it. The world needs to look at natural gas as one of the methods to
combat climate change. Natural gas is low on carbon dioxide emissions, has high
efficiency with combined cycle power, and also complements renewable energy.
When used in transportation sector, we have all seen the great climate
protection potential it has. For countries and companies around the world, gas
would be the transition fuel in a sustainable world of energy.
Gas flaring has become an important issue across the world. How does IGU look
Gas flaring is a very serious pollution hazard for the planet. The IGU has been
promoting policies against gas flaring across the world and trying to inform
people about the issue. We have been encouraging companies to come up with 'best
practices' which can then be shared with other member countries.
Through studies and surveys, we provide information to the member countries. We
also act as a platform for information sharing and networking on the issue
between member countries. No such survey has been undertaken by us specifically
for the Indian market, but our studies and surveys would readily be available to
the companies interested in knowing the best practices being followed across the
globe. My company, Petronas (Malaysia), has been successfully utilising
vented/flared gas for re-injection, commercial projects into transmission
systems and conversion to other products like methanol and naphtha. The company
is now on its way to achieve zero gas flaring soon.
What are major areas that need to be addressed by Indian companies for
successfully investing in energy infrastructure?
The companies should look at successful risk management. There is a need for
long term horizon (20-40 years) for the projects. The onus should be on project
management and cost control, long-term contracts versus spot sales, regulation
of business, as price indexation and environmental policies.
What are your suggestions for Indian companies in the sustainable energy
Gas should continue to be the fuel of choice for the companies. The regulations
in the sector need to reflect market reality. For this, there is a need for
coordination of regulation along the gas chain with cross-border trading and
transit. industry should be committed to ensuring the health and safety of its
employees, subcontractors, customers and the public affected by its operations,
products and services.
[May 19-25, 2008]