37th GECF Monthly Gas Lecture
Yesterday, the 37th edition of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum’s (GECF) Monthly Gas Lectures took place at the Forum’s headquarters.
The session was a collaboration between UNESCO’s local office and Qatar University and had a slightly different focus than the previous sessions. In the past few months, more than ever, the eye of the world has been on climate change. And since there is still a significant amount of prejudice and negative perception surrounding the oil and gas industry, the GECF Secretariat decided to dedicate its monthly lecture to the topic of climate change. In his introduction, GECF Secretary General Dr. Sentyurin stated that ‘it is not because we are in this industry, that we are not focused on the environment. Quite the contrary. To start, natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel and contrary to what some people’s perception is, one of the safest fuels overall. Compared to other fossil fuels, natural gas releases the lowest amount of carbon dioxide into the air after combustion, in fact, 50% less than coal and 20-30% less than oil.’
Ms. Donia Abdelwahed, Programme Assistant for Science for the UNESCO Cluster Office for the GCC and Yemen provided an introduction on UNESCO’s work in the field of natural resources management and response to climate change. Ms Abdelwahed mentioned that we are all to a certain extent responsible for climate change and its impact on the environment, but that as a society we are all jointly suffering its consequences too. She pointed out that it is part of UNESCO’s role to urge stakeholders to strike a balance between development and preservation so that future generations can enjoy the same things we have been able to.
In the light of their work towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development goals, UNESCO’s Qatar office is collaborating with Qatar University on the preservation of the coral reef ecosystem in Qatar. Therefore, the second part of the lecture was a presentation by Dr Radouan Ben-Hamadou, Associate Professor of Marine Science and Head of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Qatar University. The lecture entitled The Use of decommissioned oil & gas platforms for the restoration of the coral reef ecosystem in Qatar,was introduced by Ms. Abdelwahed is a great example of the resilience of nature against man-made changes.
Dr. Ben-Hamadou’s presentation explored the feasibility of the ‘rigs-to-reefs’ concept in Qatar, which turns decommissioned oil & gas platforms into artificial reefs. He said that even though corals can adapt to extreme environments, they have reached a breaking point and are dying at a rapid rate. But he mentioned that before any changes can be suggested, they need to understand the working of the ecosystem. This is why they have been working for several years in collaboration with all stakeholders, including industry, to see how man-made structures can be turned from a threat into an opportunity. Great strides in the process and the opportunity could be a win-win situation for all parties involved, as the rigs-to-reef project will not only restore the ecosystem, but could also provide significant savings on decommissioning costs for oil and gas companies.
In his closing remarks, GECF Secretary General Dr. Sentyurin expressed his support of the initiative and his desire to enhance the Secretariat’s collaboration with the UNESCO office in Doha.