(MENAFN - Arab News) With worldwide energy consumption projected to surge by approximately 50 percent in just two decades, there has been growing urgency for unconventional solutions in the gas sector, particularly in Gulf countries like Oman, where hydrocarbons make up 86 percent of government revenues and fuel economic growth.
While the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA region) holds 40 percent of the world's proven gas reserves, it only accounts for 15 percent of global gas production, indicating the massive untapped potential.
In order to tackle the evolving challenges, opportunities and trends in the global gas sector, Knowledge Expansion - a leading regional oil and gas knowledge transfer consultancy - is organizing the International Unconventional Gas Conference and Exhibition (IUGCE), from Jan. 20-22 at the Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Palace, Muscat.
Oman is considered an ideal host, being the Middle East's largest oil and gas producer that is not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The high-profile event will be chaired by Salim bin Said Al-Aufi, undersecretary for Oman's Ministry of Oil & Gas. As a platform for futuristic ideas that will shape gas exploration and production, the event will attract influential decision-makers, thought leaders and stakeholders in the global industry to maximize the potential of unconventional gas.
This refers to gas that requires higher than industry-standard levels of technology or investment to extract.
The high-powered lineup of international speakers includes Raoul Restucci, MD of PDO; Jerome Ferrier, president of the International Gas Union (IGU); Menahi Al-Anzi, deputy CEO, exploration and gas for KOC; and David Dalton, Middle East regional president for BP.
Considering the growing demand for gas - driven by the recovering global economy and population growth - the Middle East is seeking to strengthen its position at the forefront of the gas sector by diversifying from conventional gas reserves to its largely untapped unconventional gas reserves. However the major challenge is that unconventional gas types like tight gas and shale gas require much more advanced technologies and expertise.
While the region's existing conventional gas fields remain highly productive, Gulf governments have opted for a proactive approach by exploring alternative solutions rather than waiting for conventional gas production to peak or dwindle. Tight gas exploration and appraisals in countries like Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Algeria, Egypt and Libya have increased, and are expected to gain momentum with time. This will ultimately strengthen energy security, unlocking new economical energy sources.
Commenting on the upcoming conference, Rafeeq Kunhi, director at Knowledge Expansion, elaborated: "On one hand the region has enormous potential in unconventional gas, but on the other hand we have pinpointed a technological and knowledge gap in this field. Therefore, we have organized this high-profile platform where some of the world's most respected experts will converge to empower regional experts through knowledge transfer. This will greatly enrich the region's knowledge reservoir, boosting long-term sustainability and positioning the region at the forefront of the world's unconventional gas sector."
Among other highlights at this year's conference, international experts will share emerging findings from groundbreaking research, success stories and lessons learned from international developments.
The event will identify, explore and showcase untapped opportunities for oil and gas companies to transfer skills and knowledge, thereby taking advantage of developments planned in the Middle East and further afield. Key discussion areas include the elements of success for an unconventional gas development; sustainability and technology in this sector.
Aside from Oman's Ministry of Oil & Gas and PDO, the event is supported by OPAL (Oman Society for Petroleum Services). The sponsors include Baker Hughes, Weatherford, BP, Shell, STS, Packers Plus, CC Energy and Petrogas E&P.