His Excellency Dr. Mohammed bin Saleh al-Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry of the State of Qatar;
Mr. Hamad Rashid Al-Mohannadi, Chairman, Qatar Petroleum Board of Directors, Chairman Qatar Fuel Additives Company Limited (QAFAC) and Chief Executive Officer, RasGas Company Limited;
Mr. Nasser Jeham Al-Kuwari, Chief Executive Officer, QAFAC;
Distinguished MEMF conference team, speakers, participants, ladies and gentlemen… As-sah-lah-mu ah-lay-koom . Good Morning.
On behalf of the Methanol Institute, I am very pleased that we are able to support and participate in today’s important conference, and I would like to thank His Excellency for his patronage, and Nasser and the QAFAC team for their hard work in organizing what promises to be a very successful forum today.
The Methanol Institute – or MI as many of you know us – is a nonprofit, trade association headquartered in Singapore, with regional offices in Washington DC, Brussels, and Beijing. We are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Greg Dolan, MI’s CEO, and the MI staff for their continuing hard work on behalf of the methanol industry.
MI was founded in 1989 as the American Methanol Institute to further the growth of the US methanol market. Over the last 25 years, we have seen a rapid expansion of our industry globally, and the trade association has evolved and kept pace with this growth.
In 2009, we moved our headquarters office to Singapore so that we could better support our members’ global activities and the development of markets around the world, including the Gulf Cooperation Council states. Through the leadership of QAFAC and other Gulf methanol producers who are among MI’s 36 member companies, MI’s mission has expanded across the Middle East and the greater Asia Pacific regions.
MI has strategic partnerships with a number of key organizations worldwide, including the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association – GPCA – which held its Annual Forum earlier this week in Dubai. I know many of you came here from Dubai, and we appreciate your participation here today.
Through five standing committees, MI works primarily as a liaison between our members and policy leaders worldwide. We work with our public and private sector partners to help further the development of the methanol industry, with an emphasis on managing the industry’s transition from chemical commodity to global energy resource.
Another important aspect of MI’s work is product stewardship, ensuring the safe use, handling, and distribution of methanol throughout the global supply chain. Similar to QAFAC and other MI members, the Institute commits significant staff and financial resources to support methanol safe practices worldwide. This includes development and dissemination of methanol safe handling tools to all parts of the globe.
As many of you know, a key area of attention of MI’s product stewardship efforts in the last two years has been on addressing the growing concern globally of methanol ingestion.
MI believes the Gulf region can play a critical role in the future of the methanol industry. This area is quickly becoming a hub for cutting edge methanol technologies such as carbon dioxide recovery and CO2- to-methanol production.
As some states explore direct methanol fuel blending, MI has been working behind the scenes to help our members interested in bringing the latest methanol vehicle technology from China, to the region. Kai Zhao, an advisor to one of MI’s sister organizations in Beijing – the China Association of Alcohol & Ether Clean Fuel and Automobiles, or CAAEFA – will present later today on the developments in this amazing market and the potential, positive impact for Qatar and the Gulf region as a whole.
Methanol’s chemical formula, CH3OH, is often abbreviated colloquially within the industry as “MeOH.” From this acronym, today’s conference theme was derived: “Miracle Energy On Hand.” The theme is an appropriate one, as beyond the traditional uses of methanol, there are new, exciting – some might even say phenomenal – chemical- and energy-related applications and technologies that we are seeing on the horizon today. MI believes that these new applications and technologies will revolutionize not only our industry, but the daily lives of the people we touch in Qatar and around the world.
Jim Boettcher, Board Chairman of Oorja Fuel Cells, will share with you later today his company’s efforts to use methanol as a hydrogen carrier fuel to power the latest fuel cell technology. We are already seeing methanol fuel cells used successfully for remote mobile phone towers in several countries and to power forklifts in factories and warehouses. Combining multiple fuel cells can also enable off-grid power generation for schools, airports and government buildings.
As I mentioned previously, carbon dioxide recovery – and conversion of CO2-to-methanol – is an important emerging technology which will allow methanol producers to capture CO2 during the production process and convert it to additional methanol. Looking further ahead, technologies are being developed to capture CO2 directly from the atmosphere for conversion into methanol. QAFAC is one of several companies in the region successfully utilizing Carbon Dioxide Recovery technology, in so doing helping to ensure long-term environmental protection and sustainability.
Next year, we will start to see a sea-change in methanol markets as methanol will not only be a cargo in ships’ tanks but will also be used as a fuel for ships’ engines. MI and its members believe this new market has great potential globally, and particularly in the Gulf where so much of the world’s methanol supplies are shipped.
Emissions from traditional bunker fuel – including SOx and NOx – have been highly polluting. The International Maritime Organization is establishing emission control areas – or ECAs – to limit ship emissions. These ECAs are currently in Northern Europe and along the coasts of North America.
By 2020, all marine fuels globally will be required to contain a maximum of 0.5% sulphur with additional cuts in nitrogen oxide emissions. These restrictions, combined with an estimated 90,000 vessels plying the global oceans, represent an historic opportunity to increase methanol demand in the coming years. Few options exist for helping to mitigate marine engine emissions, and methanol is viewed as the most effective and low-cost option.
In June, an MI delegation led by Ben Iosefa from Methanex, who serves as MI’s Vice Chairman, went to Trieste, Italy to see firsthand the work being done by Wartsila on methanol marine engine development. Toni Stojcevski from Wartsila will present later today the work they are doing, and he will talk about shipping companies like ferry operator Stena, who plan to convert 25 of their ferries to run on methanol by 2018. These conversions will create an additional methanol demand of approximately 625,000 tonnes per year. In addition, Methanex has recently ordered six new vessels powered by MAN dual-fuel methanol/diesel engines.
From these and other developments, you can see the exciting future ahead of us in the methanol industry, and one in which I am certain that Qatar and the Gulf region will play a critical role. MI welcomes the opportunity to work with all stakeholders, and I know my fellow Board Directors and the MI staff would be pleased to talk with you about the benefits of becoming a member, and how we can help your company achieve its global mission.
I would like once again to thank QAFAC for asking MI to support and participate in this conference, and I wish you all a very informative and engaging dialogue with today’s featured speakers and panelists, and with your fellow participants.