U.A.E. Sees Natural Gas Imports Surging on Demand, Minister Says

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The United Arab Emirates, an OPEC member that’s a net importer of natural gas, will need increasing amounts of the fuel to burn in power plants if demand continues rising at the current pace, the country’s energy minister said.

“There is growth of around 6 percent, sometimes more, in energy demand,” Suhail Mohammed Al Mazrouei said at a news conference in Abu Dhabi. “The concern in the future is that we will require huge amounts of gas primarily coming from imports,” he said, without estimating the amounts needed.

The U.A.E. is also targeting nuclear power and renewable sources such as solar and wind to create a broader base of energy supply, Mazrouei said. Like other oil-rich Middle Eastern states, the country is providing subsidized energy to a growing population even as its revenue from crude sales has declined. Crude prices fell by about half last year amid a supply glut.

The U.A.E. imports about 2 billion standard cubic feet a day of gas by pipeline from Qatar to meet about 30 percent of its energy requirements, the network’s operator Dolphin Energy Ltd. said in September. Dubai, the U.A.E.’s largest emirate after Abu Dhabi, imports liquefied natural gas by ship at a terminal with capacity to expand to 800 million cubic feet a day, according to the government-run Dubai Supply Authority.

Abu Dhabi plans an LNG terminal in the emirate of Fujairah to receive as much as 9 million tons of LNG a year, or about 1.2 billion cubic feet a day, once it starts in 2018. The U.A.E. will assess the need for additional gas imports after building this facility, Mazrouei said. The nation is the third-biggest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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