with Adel Albuainain, General Director, Dolphin Energy
The Dolphin Gas Project is now complete. What have been the most significant milestones and achievements?
Dolphin Energy delivered first gas in 2007, marking the arrival of Qatari gas to the UAE. This was followed by two major events in 2008 when the company achieved full throughput of 2 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas per day and first supplies reaching Oman in October of the same year.
The main activities at that time were focused on shifting from project mode to being operational; as we needed to optimize and make sure that we had sustainable production. Ensuring we met customer requirements was also a priority as gas demand is really high in the UAE and Oman. Dolphin Energy gas accounts for 30% of the UAE’s energy requirements, helping fuel economic growth and diversification and supporting the requirements associated with population growth.Since operations began, Dolphin Energy has supplied more than 3 trillion standard cubic feet and a unique facet of the project is that Dolphin Energy is involved in the three stages of the value chain – upstream, midstream and downstream.
It is rare to find this level of involvement in the value chain in the oil and gas sector.
Another important achievement is in the area of Qatarization. Dolphin Energy is actively recruiting Qatari Nationals – currently, 33% of the workforce is Qatari. We are proud of this success because we are still a young company. We have done well and benefited from the support provided by partners such as Qatar Petroleum. The main challenge is not so much attracting talent but more to do with how to retain it. Motivation is key and we seem to be doing well in this regard. Around 50% of the senior management team is Qatari, which is an excellent achievement. In May 2012, we received the Certification of Appreciation at the 12th Qatarization Forum: an annual event chaired by H. E. Mohamed Saleh Al Sadah, Minister of Energy & Industry and Chairman of Qatar Petroleum Company.For the last five years, we worked hard to attain this level of recognition. This has motivated us to strive for more success in this area so we continue to demonstrate our commitment to the community, to the wise leadership of this country, the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 and the Qatar National Vision 2030. We are working hard to be good corporate citizens and have CSR initiatives in place that are designed to support the communities in which we operate. We are very conscious of the environment and are taking many steps to minimize our environmental impacts. The environment was on top of our agenda from day one, even before having the basic design for the project.
How is Dolphin Energy a reflection of regional energy cooperation?
The Dolphin Gas Project is the first of its kind for this region. It is a symbol of regional energy cooperation and a 21st century vision of international trade. It is the only energy initiative to link three countries and illustrates the support of the governments of Qatar, the UAE and Oman and the unerring commitment to ensure the project’s success. To this day, the input and support of our shareholders, Mubadala Development Company, Total and Oxy, and our strategic partner, Qatar Petroleum, can be seen in our senior management structure and the number of secondees placed in the company.
The Dolphin Gas Project sends a clear message about the benefits of energy cooperation for the wider region and is a shining example of what can be achieved.
t is also about bringing people together and opening up opportunities for the citizens of the three countries: we have Emiratis working in Qatar, Qataris working in UAE; we travel a lot between Abu Dhabi and Doha.
You mentioned the environment. When the Dolphin Gas Project was designed, the pipeline route was plotted to preserve important marine habitats and corals. What were the main achievements in terms of developing the project while preserving the environment?
We have made a major contribution to the protection of the environment. Our commitment started at the design phase and we needed to ensure that whatever we decided to enact from production to distribution, the value chain was safe and environmentally friendly.
Of course, as is the case in any new project, the Dolphin Gas Project faced several challenges but from the outset we maintained strict standards that ensured we avoided damage to the natural and social environment.
One of Dolphin Energy’s earliest decisions was to rank QHSE (quality, health, safety and environment) excellence with other primary business objectives. This set the tone for the company’s development in its project phase and received endorsements from our shareholders and the surrounding communities. So, from these early beginnings, Dolphin Energy was committed to business processes that focused on efficiency, investment in people, correct ethical conduct, social responsibility, profit and growth. This is a position that has been communicated from the top. The leadership of this company, our Chairman, HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahayan and our CEO, Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, are personally involved and have been committed from the beginning.Being a good neighbor is good business and this stance has seen Dolphin Energy support many environmental programs and take important steps to ensure the production and processing of natural gas has minimal environmental impacts – from plotting a subsea pipeline route that avoided important turtle breeding grounds and protected marine habitats to initiating a flare reduction program to help reduce emissions.The company also took steps to partner with government institutions and leading organizations in the field of protection and conservation. This has seen the implementation of many initiatives such as the Coral Project and Beati Watani, an online environmental education program.
You are absolutely right, taking measures to preserve the environment is fundamental but there also comes a time to educate future generations, this is probably the next step. This brings us to the social dimension of the Dolphin Gas Project, this is a project that has a strong number of initiatives in terms of supporting the community, especially the education part, can you tell us more about the most significant community support initiatives you are undertaking?
We have joined forces with other companies in Ras Laffan and have created a “Community Outreach Program”. We are members along with Rasgas, Qatargas, Oryx and Qatar Petroleum. We are involved in this because our operations are in Ras Laffan and there are communities living nearby such as in Al Khor that need our support. These communities are concerned about the impact the companies operations will have on their lives. So we conduct a lot of education in that regard, we host training workshops and talk to the communities to understand what their needs are and outline the opportunities on offer to them. We encourage them to work with us because there are many benefits to living close to where you work. In addition to participating in the Community Outreach Program, we also run a number of initiatives that touch upon culture and the arts, education, sport and charity. We have a strong link with Qatar University and have formed a strategic partnership with them. We support all their initiatives and opportunities and are attracting more graduates to the company as a result. We also have a program with Texas A&M, which is more focused on engineering. Our role is to support not only higher education but also schools. We hold sessions to explain our project so that we can attract Nationals. That has had a positive effect because we now have employees who were keen to join Dolphin Energy since they were in High School. We also have some situations where some employees decided to leave Dolphin Energy but then want to come back two months later!
Based on all the strategic points you have touched upon, what is the final message you would like to send to our readers?
Our focus is on ensuring we send natural gas to our customers in UAE and Oman without interruption and in full observance of our obligations to minimize any environmental impact.We are also keen to build on our ability to attract and retain talent, focusing on the need to keep our employees motivated so that they build successful careers in the long term.