with Carl Atallah, President, Chevron Qatar Limited
Chevron values the relationships we have built with Qatar Petroleum (QP) and its subsidiaries as well as with Qatar Foundation (QF), specifically with the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), the Qatar National Food Security Program (QNFSP), the Qatar World Cup 2022 Organizing Board and other significant Qatari Government organizations. Currently, Chevron Qatar main activity is around energy efficiency and solar technology research. In 2009 we signed an agreement to invest US$10 million to establish the Center for Sustainable Energy Efficiency located at the QSTP. We are very proud to have inaugurated the Center in early 2011. Also in 2009 we committed to investing another US$10 million in solar research at QSTP and in 2010 we signed a joint study agreement with local start up company Green Gulf to develop a solar test facility at QSTP which is now under construction and we are gearing up to inaugurate it late this year.
Our office in Qatar is focused on developing new business opportunities for Chevron. Our solar and energy efficiency projects are part of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project, aligned with His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani’s vision 2030. The Solar Test Facility aims to test different commercially available photovoltaic technologies in the Qatar environment. This information will help us select the best technologies to use in this environment going forward. Chevron has similar test facilities in California and New Mexico where we are testing the performance of various PV and solar Thermal technologies in those different environments. We have expanded our learnings from those test facilities and expanded the test in Qatar, making this project the most comprehensive of them.In addition, the Center for Sustainable Energy Efficiency (CSEE) at the QSTP aims to educate and inform people on how simple changes in behavior can affect the way we consume energy. Also at the CSEE we have a research program testing various lighting technologies to identify those that perform best in the Qatar environment.
What is on our core agenda today is to inaugurate the solar test facility. We are anxious to get that going. In the Middle East, relationships are very important, and establishing your credibility is a very significant part of the strategy. Also, demonstration of partnership is important and that is why we continue to invest in the country. We are taking the long view on Qatar staying the course for potential future opportunities in Qatar once the Moratorium on new projects is lifted. At the same time, Qatar is embarking on a big solar technology utilization, during this particular decade, we are positioning ourselves on that as well, should that become a commercial activity.
We know that Qatar is a very competitive market with high standards, with many international and local players. In such a context, how does Chevron makes a difference in terms of competitive advantage and what makes you the partner of choice in Qatar for energy efficiency and solar?
Creating partnerships is one of our core strengths. Our partnerships bring together business, community groups, government and nongovernmental organizations with one common goal: to produce sustainable results.Chevron has been in the energy efficiency business longer than any other IOC. We started to look at the way we consumed energy in 1992. Basically oil and gas companies are very big consumers of energy themselves and by paying close attention to our energy consumption we discovered that we could do a lot better. We also recognized that our learning in this field could help others save cost on waste energy consumption, and this gave raise to Chevron Energy Solutions. Today, Chevron is approximately 34% more efficient than when we started in 1992 and this translates into important energy as well as cost savings. We have a great authority to talk about energy efficiency because we have done it ourselves, and we know how it works. Chevron Energy Solutions today is one of the largest companies managing energy efficiency projects for the US government. We have provided our services for large government facilities, post offices, universities, and other large consumers and we can speak with confidence that our customers are satisfied by the solutions we provided them. We have developed specific projects around universities, and so on, targeting spaces available such as parking lots to place Solar Parking shades to provide shade for cars and at the same time generate electricity. While this business is still a fraction of the size of our Oil and Gas business, it makes us one of the biggest energy efficiency companies in California and it is growing. That is why we think we have advantages to help Qatari companies such as QP to reduce their energy consumption. At this time there is an emerging awareness about that in Qatar, and we are part of the education on that matter, we are providing the information and hope to provide the solution as well.
If we look at the global picture, we can see that the oil and gas industry has been reaching outstanding performances in Qatar through the entire value chain, so it has reached a high level of maturity: how do you personally assess the sector and upcoming opportunities? And how does Chevron fit in the picture?
At this time opportunities in oil and gas in Qatar are limited. There is a moratorium in place on new projects. I believe opportunities in the Energy Efficiency and Solar Sectors are developing. In the solar space, the World Cup 2022 is a very good example. One of the winning cards they played to win the bid to host the World Cup in Qatar was a commitment to hold a carbon neutral World Cup. The World Cup is a summer event, therefore, achieving a carbon neutral World Cup is a pretty big challenge. At this time it is a very early stage of evaluating these challenges but the Chevron– GreenGulf Solar Test Facility provides a great opportunity to test and define the best technologies to use in this environment. As part of the Qatar Vision 2030, Qatar has also launched the Qatar National Food Security Program (QNFSP) food. This project promises to be much greater in size and scope than the World Cup 2022 and if it does go forward, the country will surely set new standards in solar power.
Qatar is a country that has the highest polluting and consumption rate per capita, but there is also a very strong green trend that is taking place. How is Chevron trying to reduce its impact on the environment, and in this regard, can you explain us more about the vision behind the creation of the Center for Sustainable Energy Efficiency located at the Qatar Science & Technology Park (CSEE)?
Chevron is contributing to the green trend that we see in Qatar today. Our collaboration with GreenGulf at the Solar Test Facility and our own Center for Energy Efficiency are two great demonstrations of our efforts in Qatar. As I explained earlier, the CSEE has two main objectives, 1) it aims to educate the public on how simple behavioral changes and making a few inexpensive adjustments at home can contribute to cutting CO2 emissions and save money and energy waste at the same time. 2) The CSEE also has a research component on efficient lighting technology where we are conducting research to identify the most efficient and durable lights in the Qatar environment.
Chevron is showing a close relationship with Qatar, by partnering with local start-ups such as GreenGulf, or training the Qatari engineers and scientists of the future. How do you define your commitment to Qatar in terms of “Human Energy”, the well-known Chevron’s philosophy?
This is part of our Qatarization strategy where 50% of our workforce at the sustainable center is Qatari, and we are welcoming 4 interns this year. We are making the effort to bring interns that are Qatari, they are all engineers from Texas A&M and Qatar University. GreenGulf has done a great job in attracting some very good engineers that are enthusiastic about green energies. We are collaborating very actively on a daily basis with them. We have a great and growing relationship because we both contribute to the project on a win-win basis. There is a lot of competition in the industry for Qatari Human Resources and some companies are having a difficult time meeting the current Qatarization targets but I think we are doing pretty well.
What is your personal message to our readers, about Chevron and about Qatar?
Qatar is a very transparent country, very welcoming to do business and has made great progress in supplying the world with LNG. Today Qatar is also beginning to progress in its Vision 2030 of achieving sustainable development by encouraging investments in Solar power and Energy Efficiency. Chevron is a worldwide enterprise, with great people, great processes and we are making a mark in Qatar in the Energy Efficiency sector and making good progress in Solar. We are also building a solid foundation to develop future projects that may become available once the Moratorium on new gas projects is lifted. “Chevron believes that when it comes to energy development we will need all forms of economically competitive energy sources to drive economic growth and raise living standards around the world.”We are doing our part in supplying Oil and Gas and developing new energy resources including Solar and other green technologies. We are also a big believer in Energy Efficiency because saved energy is the most inexpensive new energy. We are happy to be in Qatar and very active in the business community. There is a lot of enthusiasm and the country has a lot to offer.