Qatar’s petroleum industry is making efforts to “go green.” Is it speeding ahead in the right, or wrong direction?
We all know too well the devastation that the oil industry can cause. This weekend’s oil spill, the Deepwater Horizon Incident in the Gulf of Mexico is surpassing the devastation of the Exxon Valdez spill and is a pretty stark reminder about our responsibility to safeguard the environment (if signs of global warming aren’t enough).
While Qatar is not an oil-rich company, it’s rich in natural gas and is a member of OPEC, which means it can greatly influence environmental policies put in place in the oil and gas industry. The country hopes to bill itself as an environmentally-friendly one, getting a boost with the Qatar Petroleum Environment Fair that opened last week at the Doha Exhibition Centre, according to the Gulf Times. “Environment” and “Petroleum” are not normally words associated together in a fair in a positive way. While natural gas is not as polluting as oil or coal, it’s a limited resource which still pollutes, but less.
Let’s here what Qatar had planned: the two-day event, which was inaugurated by the Minister of State for Energy and Industrial Affairs Mohamed Saleh al-Sada, and the Minister of the Environment Abdullah bin Mubarak bin Aboud al-Midhadi, included the attendance of oil and gas companies and institutions like Qatar University, Qatar Science and Technology Park, Gulf Helicopters and the Friends of the Environment Centre.
The main them of the event was about education. The news report however, made the event look more like child’s play rather than dealing with real hard questions that the oil and gas industry needs to stand up to.
For example, the Friends of the Environment Centre’s stand had details of the “Ecokids Environmental Programme for Children” for educating kids. Qapco, Qatar’s Petroleum Company designed a “recyclable” with slogans slogans “reduce, recycle, reuse and revive the planet”, and “say yes to plastics.”
What? Say yes to plastics at an environment fair? The company’s GP Mohamed Yousef al-Mulla stated that the company had a firm environmental policy.
Meanwhile public relations manager Mishael al-Ansari explained that Qapco’s stand had been designed with recyclable materials using plastic bottles and containers that corresponded with Qapco’s motive of propagating the usage of plastics rather than other non-reusable materials.
I wasn’t at the conference, but it sounds a bit fishy. Qatar may be getting it all wrong, like other “green” projects in the Middle East (especially the mega green building projects) that resemble more green washing than any true efforts to sustain our built and natural environment. On the other hand, it could be the reporter at the event had no idea what to report on.
I dug up that the company Qatalum, present at the fair has produced one of the world’s cleanest aluminum smelters (their words). Qatalum is a joint venture by Qatar Petroleum and Hydro, will have a capacity in the first phase of 585,000 tonnes of primary aluminium, all to be shipped as value added aluminium casthouse products.
Image via drljohnson