On Monday (February 3), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced it had discovered a new natural gas field with 80 trillion standard cubic feet (tscf) of shallow gas resources. The gas field discovery, reportedly the largest in the world since 2005, holds the potential of helping UAE’s gas self-sufficiency, reducing its reliance on neighbouring Qatar for the fuel.
Why is the new gas field discovery in the UAE significant?
The reservoir, named ‘Jebel Ali’, is located between the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which along with five other emirates form the UAE. According to officials, it spans around 5,000 square kilometres.
According to a Bloomberg report, the gas find is the largest since the discovery of the Galkynysh field in Turkmenistan in 2005. At 80 tscf, the new reservoir would now be ranked the fourth largest by size in the Middle East, behind the North Field in Qatar, South Pars in Iran, and the Bab field in Abu Dhabi. The Qatari and Iranian fields are part of the same deposit.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE Prime Minister and Dubai’s ruler, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, have tweeted about the find.
The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Dubai Supply Authority (DUSUP) will together explore and develop the shallow gas project, and the gas produced will be supplied to DUSUP for catering to Dubai’s energy needs, according to reports.
According to the US Department of Energy, the UAE holds the seventh-largest proven reserves of natural gas in the world, at slightly more than 215 tscf.
Reduced dependence on Qatar
The discovery is expected to reduce the UAE’s dependence on gas supplies for electricity from Qatar, a nation with which the former has had a bitter standoff since 2017.
Since June that year, the UAE is among four Arab nations that have severed ties with Qatar. The rupture occurred after years of Qatar steering its own course in foreign affairs that did not align with its neighbours, including having a close economic and diplomatic relationship with Shia Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia’s great regional rival.
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Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt had cut ties with Qatar, and also shut their airspace to Qatari aircraft. Saudi Arabia sealed Qatar’s only land border, and closed its ports to Qatari-flagged ships.
Riyadh claimed Qatar had refused to end ties with “terrorists”, after Doha declined to fulfil 13 demands that were presented to it, including cutting diplomatic relations with Tehran and military ties with Turkey, shutting down the TV station Al Jazeera, and aligning with other Arab countries “militarily, politically, socially and economically”.
Notwithstanding the break in relations, Qatar has continued to supply gas to the UAE via the Dolphin pipeline.
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