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Natural Gas and the future of Arab Cooperation

The Information Affairs Office of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, has published a study entitled "Natural Gas and the Future of Arab Cooperation."

The study gives a historical hint on the beginnings of discovering and using the natural gas. It highlights its characteristics, usages, prices, the increasing demand for it worldwide as of 1973, and its economic, political and ecological impacts.

It also sheds light on the world consumption of natural gas at the present and in the future, its strategic reserves and current and future status in the Arab World concerning its reserves, production, problems and challenges facing its feasible usage.

It considers exporting natural gas to be not the best strategic option, rather it says that priority should be given to power generation, and establishing petrochemical industries based on Arab integration as a shield vis-a-vis the unfair international challenges. The study stresses the importance of the political will, the necessity for creating effective mechanisms of cooperation, and the consolidation of the Arab negotiating stance.

Expanding the usage of natural gas, increasing the potentiality of the Arab refineries, encouraging pan-Arab power grids, enacting economically motivating legislations, and the effective participation on the part of Arab private sector and civil society should also be a priority over the option of exporting the natural gas, the study says.

Finally, the study mentions the necessity of reforming this important natural resource, and using it in an optimum way that activates the Arab integration mechanisms required to protect the Arab interests in a world replete with economic blocs.

Editorial Notes: Article is from a local Emirates newspaper about a regional thinktank. There has been much talk about using LNG to "solve" the coming NG shortage in Europe and North America. If the Arab states are no longer prepared to sell their spare NG but decide to retain it for their own future development (as the report says they should) then where are these increased supplies of NG for sale as LNG going to come from ? Other countries like Bolivia and Bangladesh are already restricting or preventing NG exports, preferring to use these for local development. I think this will be an accelarating trend and not just with NG as time goes on. -AD

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