Musabbeh Al Kaabi
CEO of the Petroleum & Petrochemicals platform, Mubadala

The energy sector landscape is experiencing profound change, complexity and uncertainty--from the impacts of Covid-19 on the global economy and the prospect of reaching peak oil demand, to a rapidly rising recognition of the urgency of combating climate change and accelerated investments in low-carbon technologies. The United Arab Emirates is at the center of these shifts, both as a major Middle Eastern producer of oil and gas but also as an investor in new emerging technologies and low-carbon energy sources. 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Musabbeh Al Kaabi, Chief Executive Officer of the Petroleum & Petrochemicals platform at Mubadala, a sovereign investment firm in Abu Dhabi. Jason and Musabbeh discuss what sectors and regions a company like Mubadala is prioritizing in its investment decisions, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and ambitious regional and corporate carbon policy commitments. 

Prior to his current role, Musabbeh was the CEO of Mubadala Petroleum, Mubadala’s exploration and production company, from 2014 to 2017. Musabbeh holds a degree in Geophysical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines and a Master of Science in Petroleum Geoscience from Imperial College, London.

 

Transcript

[00:00:02]
Jason Bordoff:  Hello and welcome to Columbia Energy Exchange, a weekly podcast from the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, I am Jason Bordoff.  The energy sector landscape is experiencing profound change, complexity and uncertainly from the impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy and the prospect of reaching peak oil demand to a rapidly rising recognition of the urgency of combating climate change and accelerated investments in low carbon technologies.  The United Arab Emirates is at the center of these shifts both as a major Middle Eastern producer of oil and gas, but also an investor in new emerging technologies and low carbon energy sources.  Mubadala, a sovereign investment firm in Abu Dhabi is responsible for executing much on that strategy, and I was curious to learn more about what sectors and regions or company like Mubadala is prioritizing in its investment decisions particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and ambitious regional and corporate carbon policy commitments.  So, I am delighted today to be joined by Musabbeh Al Kaabi, Musabbeh is the Chief Executive Officer of the Petroleum & Petrochemicals platform at Mubadala.  Prior to his current role he was the CEO of Mubadala Petroleum its exploration and production company from 2014 to 2017.  He holds a degree in geophysical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and a master of science in petroleum geoscience from Imperial College, London.  Musabbeh, thanks so much for joining us on Columbia Energy Exchange.

[00:01:34]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Thank you, Jason and thanks for hosting me.

[00:01:37]l
Jason Bordoff:  So, we chatted last year at the ADIPEC Conference.  We’re here again for a continuation of this conversation, just if you could start, it’s been such a remarkable year in so many years since I saw you last in Abu Dhabi, talk a little bit especially for our listeners who may be less familiar with Mubadala about what the company -- portfolio and priorities are now, but especially how COVID-19 has impacted the company, what have been the biggest challenges for you and how you’ve coped with that as a leader?

[00:02:10]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Well, obviously Jason we’re experiencing something unprecedented, something we haven’t seen before, so predicting the market is a big challenge and we are doing what other investors are doing.  We’re trying to adjust our activities to cope with the new reality.  COVID-19 has disrupted every business sector we’re investing in.  So, our job currently is to primarily weather the storm, try to also steer our strategy in a way that you know, we position the company for the next phase of its growth.  Mubadala as you mentioned earlier it’s a sovereign wealth fund, asset and/or management of 229 billion dollars.  We are active in many sectors, so not only in the energy space but in the technology, life sciences, pharmaceuticals, information technology and all 15 -- 15 different sectors.  And yes, I think COVID-19 proved to be very challenging to everyone globally and we are no exception, but it is hopefully creating opportunities and a different perspective on the investment environment going forward.

[00:03:33]
Jason Bordoff:  What’s the impact been on UAE and on Abu Dhabi which obviously depends heavily on oil revenue, we’ve seen this huge price collapse, how do things feel there, how does the economy feel right now?

[00:03:44]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah.  Well, it is being impacted like everyone else in the world, but the good thing about what the UAE is about is we started a -- a vision long time ago almost 2008 to diversify the economy away from oil and gas.  We are still on that journey going forward, but COVID-19 and the previous drop in the oil prices back in 2014-15 I would say put an acceleration mode into that vision.  So, the government has been extremely laser focused on pushing that agenda going forward and trying to diversify the economy.  So, overall when you think about the UAE and comparing the UAE with the neighboring and in the region, I think we’re satisfied with the progress done and we’re on that journey and we’re becoming less and less volatile and more resilient when it comes to the commodity price especially oil -- oil prices, but yes there is a vision and the government is fully behind that vision and very committed to help.  Mubadala is also part of that vision and we’re trying to wherever possible try to push that agenda going forward.

The UAE in general also dealt very professionally with the COVID-19 situation.  We are one of the highest or the highest testing per capita globally, so more than 50% of the population have been tested.  We’re putting the right protocols in place to minimize and flatten the curve, try to also drop it as much possible.  So overall, I’m glad to see the UAE ranked one of the top countries globally to deal with the COVID-19.  From the health point and -- point of view to the economic and the measures put in place to eradicate and minimize the negative impact of COVID-19.  We are forward looking and hopefully next year we will see more and more initiatives and that prove to be you know, let’s say that the government vision has proved to be very efficient and practical.

[00:06:10]
Jason Bordoff:  When do you -- in terms of the outlook, when do you think oil demand reaches pre COVID levels and do you think the result of COVID-19 will be to permanently change the outlook for oil demand?  Are there certain patterns to the way we work and travel, air travel and the rest that you think will -- will not look the same going forward as they did in the past?

[00:06:29]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah.  Back -- in December of 2019 if you recall, I would say oil demand globally was around 100 million barrel of oil per day.  We’ve seen a significant drop in March, April almost 30% drop in the – suddenly, in the oil demand globally, so that let OPEC Plus to put the right plan in place to stabilize the market.  Currently, we’re very happy to see the oil demand going back to the levels of let’s say 90s it’s a number between probably 90 to 93 now and -- but they are segments, Jason, of the demand would take longer than expected to recover the one -- the one is the -- the airlines sector and the jet fuel.  So, the jet fuel will probably take two to three years to go back to the pre COVID-19 levels.  But the other sectors of the demand we’re you know, we’re satisfied that we’ve seen a significant recovery, back to almost pre COVID-19 levels.  So, yes, the recovery has been I would say an acceptable level of recovery, we’re expecting more recovery to come next year, but for the jet fuel I think it will take maybe two to three years to go back to COVID-19.  Now the big question mark what is the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the oil demand.  Well, there is no doubt that it created a -- a disruption, I think the way we see the world post COVID-19 will be totally different.  I am confident that there will be less struggling, less you know, certain sectors in the economy will have less activities which will translate probably into a -- a lower demand in that particular sector, but let’s project to the year 2030, 2040 we still think that there will be an acceptable level of growth in the oil demand potentially up to 2030.  And where we anticipate a peak demand or peak global demand, so yes -- 

[00:08:44]
Jason Bordoff:  You anticipate peak demand around 2030, is that what you -- 

[00:08:47]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  We’re -- we’re saying that you know, based on the latest projections that the -- it’s you know, around 2030.  Some analyst probably push it forward, some push it earlier.  So that’s the consensus in the industry now is that we may see a peak oil demand sometime along in the next 10 years plus or minus.  So -- to summarize I think for COVID-19 we’re expecting a disruption -- major disruption in the demand in the short-term, we have already seen in 2020, we’re expecting to see also the continuation of that disruption in 2021, but if you project your horizon to 10 years down the road, I think we’ll go back to an acceptable level of growth and potentially take enough to the peak demand around 2030.

[00:09:45]
Jason Bordoff:  So, in that scenario it -- it takes you know, two or three years to recover -- but then demand is still growing we haven’t seen peak demand yet, if that’s correct, the response to what we’ve seen in COVID-19 which is shut ins globally that make us some degree of -- of permanent loss or damage, major CAPEX cut backs and obviously there are many majors who are reporting historically large losses, the outlook for shale growth in the years ahead is lower today than people would have thought a year ago in -- in part because capital is harder to get and also some of the social pressures which I want to come to you and ask you about.  Do you think there is going to be – are we setting ourselves up for an under-investment cycle, do you think we’re not investing enough given what you just said about the demand outlook?

[00:10:27]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah.  Well I think in 2014 and 15 we had similar argument, Jason, if you recall and we thought you know, under investment will translate into supply shortfalls in the future.  This time I see it differently for the reasons you mentioned.  There is a pressure on big IOCs, there is a pressure from the investor community, there is government policies, climate change.  So, I think if you put these in perspective, I doubt that there will be a massive investment in the upstream sectors especially from IOCs going forward which will create space for national oil companies and privately-owned companies to play in that space.  So, yes there is probably this time it’s different because of the reasons we mentioned climate change, ESG consideration, government policies that put pressure on you know, the -- the conventional players to expand on the upstream.  So, I think yes to summarize it, I think there will be episodes in the near future where we see a potential disruption in the supply and the emerging winners would be the likes of national oil companies and privately-owned companies, they can play in that -- in that space.

[00:11:51]
Jason Bordoff:  I want to ask you also about sort of the outlook you see for gas and petrochemicals which is important to Mubadala, but since you brought the ESG pressures and driven by the fact that you know, trying to come anywhere close to the ambitious climate targets in the Paris Agreement would take pretty historic shifts between now and 2050 and we’ve seen some of the prominent announcements from big oil firms like BP, Equinor, Shell to be net zero by 2050 to transition away over time from being oil firms, obviously BP to set up and ramp up its clean energy investment let its oil production decline.  What do you make of these announcements from -- from big oil, are -- are they real, what impact do you think they have for the industry, is that a direction you could see companies like Mubadala and -- and others in -- in the region following, some of the state run enterprises?

[00:12:44]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  What I think based on what we see let’s -- let’s take things in perspective.  So, let’s project the energy demand by 2030 or 2040 or 2050.  In these scenarios Jason, we always see that the oil and gas will remain I would say a significant part of the future energy demand.  So, which means we have a -- a responsibility to supply the world with the -- with the required energy to meet the demand in the future.  I think there is a pressure on the IOCs, investors are also putting more and more pressure on them to -- to address the ESG and climate change more aggressively that what we’ve seen historically.  I think it is the responsibility of the IOCs, of the producers including national oil companies to try to strike the right balance between these factors.  And one area that they can play more aggressively on is the deployment of technology.  The decarbonization of the -- of the, you know operation, of the production and ultimately hopefully deploying technologies that will minimize or eradicate the -- the emission.  I keep telling the team here in Abu Dhabi is that well oil and gas is not bad, emission is bad.  So, let’s do something about emission and there are some emerging technology that could help national oil companies and IOCs to address that issue.

I think what industry did in the last 20 plus years was they put themselves in a defensive mode and I -- if time goes back I think they should have probably embraced these trends and play more proactive role by deploying and promoting technologies that minimize the carbon footprint of their production and their operation and try to come up with innovative technologies to address this issue.  By the way, I -- I see probably a similar trend in the downstream of the petrochemicals and I think with the petrochemicals it’s very important, critical for the petrochemical players to be proactive try to address the plastic waste issue and not be in a state of denial and we see a strong movement within the industry to tackle the plastic waste.  So I -- I am optimistic that the technology will help the industry as well to address these big headwinds and big challenges.  And I remain optimistic that we will see some emerging technologies that address these issues.

[00:15:21]
Jason Bordoff:  Yeah.  I mean you’re certainly right that the outlook today the baseline case would -- would be continued growth in oil demand at least in our modeling for -- for some time to come those -- those outlooks are -- are not consistent with then meeting the kind of temperature stabilization targets that people have for 2050 and so the question I guess is whether you see Europe passing the Green -- the Green Deal recently, South Korea I think just became the first country in East Asia to pledge to be net zero by 2050.  We’ll see what happens in my own country in November.  Vice President’s Biden’s climate plan now has carbon free electricity by 2035.  These are hard to achieve, these are very ambitious, but do -- do you see a trend of rising policy ambition and more policies that try to reduce emissions that that meaningfully could change that outlook.  And then actually the outlook for oil and gas might look a little bit different and then how does a company like Mubadala you know, prepare to be resilient to that?

[00:16:18]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Well, I think you’re right Jason, we see many government policies around the world trying to push the agenda of decarbonization stronger while trying to have a vision and that if that vision is practical or not it’s you know, another debate.  But let’s monitor two you know, trends one of them is the government policies and as you mentioned now even Asian players who historically been heavily dependent on oil and gas are joining the club and trying to put the right vision, right government policies in place to decarbonize their -- their economic activities, so, government policy is one.  The other one is the technology, let’s not underestimate the impact of technology.  So that technology would play probably two key roles.  One of them is empowering the green economy by introducing -- the introduction of EVs, electrification of the transportation sector, that’s one trend that no one is unstoppable it’s going in the right direction, but again starting from very low pace.  The other technology that I am hopefully and remain optimistic about is technologies that will enable us to continue producing the natural resources yet with the minimum possible carbon footprint.  And there are you know, many available technologies like carbon capture you know, putting more efficiencies, eradicating, eliminating flares in the operation.  So, all these initiatives should provide I think the right framework to deal with the climate change you know, agenda.

Now, let’s zoom into Mubadala.  In Mubadala we’ve been a responsible investor.  We you know, invested in renewable energy very long time ago I would say especially in the region with the Masdar you know, initiative at that time.  And we’re -- we’re seeing Masdar becoming a global, I would say, player in the renewable energy.  So, yes, we invested in oil and gas, but equally we also put big efforts and commitment into the sustainability and the renewable agenda.  And we’re very proud to build a very strong clean energy business within our portfolio.  We will remain very active investor in that space and we see more growth in the future.

So, as Mubadala as we see this energy transition going forward, we’re adjusting our strategy and remember Jason we’re -- we’re an investor.  And an investor will think of you know, what the future will look like and how can I make an acceptable financial return on these major trends happening to the -- to the world.  So, yes we will -- we’ve been a responsible investor we will continue to be a responsible investor and we have invested significantly in all sorts of energy, but particularly we were very pioneer when it comes to the renewable energy.

[00:19:32]
Jason Bordoff:  And -- and as you said in the beginning you’re an investor not only in oil, gas, petrochemicals, but also technology and -- and I always enjoy our conversations because I -- I know you think a lot about how technology might change the energy space moving forward in terms of production and in terms of decarbonization.  So, I may ask you about a couple of those.  Hydrogen, your neighbors, Saudi Arabia and Air products made a big splash recently with a huge new Green Hydrogen Project, renewables to make ammonia as shipping fuel, how do you see the evolving future of hydrogen, ammonia is this going to be a major part of the chemicals portfolio?

[00:20:12]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah.  Well, Mubadala acknowledge the -- just we identified these trends I would say a few years back.  So, hydrogen we recently joined the Hydrogen Council and you know, we’re looking forward to actually you know, very interesting and constructive discussion with them.  So, yes hydrogen is attracting all the spotlights at the moment and we think it did address some of the inherited issues with the conventional renewable energy being solar or wind.  What makes it very interesting is the ability to generate clean energy at very low cost.  So, drop in the solar energy, the wind energy recently is enabling hydrogen to expand more and more.  You mentioned the recent announcement in Saudi Arabia it’s interesting concept.  It is I am sure there is an investment and strategic reason behind it and yeah I think it’s a very interesting space we’re currently updating our view on the latest number we’ve -- we’ve seen and we’re trying to you know, align our strategy to put Mubadala in the right track when it comes to these emerging energy trends.

[00:21:37]
Jason Bordoff:  And do you have thoughts about sort of whether we’re going to see this really play out in blue hydrogen gas reformation with carbon capture or in green hydrogen electrolysis -- 

[00:21:47]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah Jason I would say both and sometime I tell my -- my team here in Abu Dhabi I say you know what, hydrogen is very close to us.  And historically we’ve been working on hydrocarbon, so let’s just for a moment remove the carbon and keep the hydrogen and let’s explore that space.  It is you know, the region is blessed with significant reserve -- the oil and also -- and the natural gas.  So, yes I think the concept of carbon capture, low hydrogen would make sense given the fact that the region is blessed with a huge reserve in -- in natural resources.  It is interesting also to see that the technology is advancing.  I remember we had similar discussion around the solar.  If you recall 10 years back solar was solar cost or electricity or power duration from solar was I would say high and prohibitively high in some places in the world, but with the current trend you see it becoming so, I would say, competitive with the other sources.  So, I am optimistic also to see that the technology in the hydrogen space will follow the similar trend and the technology will enable the hydrogen to play more -- more role in the future energy demand and production.

[00:23:21]
Jason Bordoff:  And what do you see is the outlook for carbon capture technology, you mentioned it a few times it -- it is real there are projects around the world today, it is expensive.  Do you see that coming down and cost enough to be a viable decarbonization option for large energy companies?

[00:23:36]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  I think it might become -- in the future that we might see a future where carbon capture become a necessity not an optional because of the social pressure on producers and definitely the technology also will help in dropping the cost of carbon capture.  So, yes I think with the trends we see in the -- in the industry there is a possibility that we see carbon capture becoming a mandatory and not an optional -- option for the -- for the producers.

[00:24:06]
Jason Bordoff:  Do you think it is may -- obviously looks different if you’re Mubadala or ADNOC then maybe if you’re Exxon Chevron or an independent in the Permian, but these -- these social pressures the ESG pressures that you have talked about what -- what impact do you think they will have on access to capital for some of the large energy companies and what does it mean for investment moving forward?

[00:24:31]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah.  I think definitely the ESG is becoming a -- a hot topic now.  So, the financial and -- the financial institutions are debating you know, the impact of ESG on their activities going forward.  The – IOCs, some of them are under pressure as well, so I think we will see more and more ESG consideration in any activity we do in the -- in the economy.  Of course, the pressure on the publicly traded companies like the IOCs would be much higher and much bigger than the pressure we see on national oil companies.  So, the national oil companies will -- will acknowledge the ESG, will put the effort to minimize the carbon footprint and will try to push for new technology that will minimize the -- the CO2.  The -- I think the situation with IOCs would be slightly different because there will be more and more pressure from the investor and community for them to take ESG you know, and put the right framework around ESG and try to do things in ESG compliant going forward.

[00:25:54]
Jason Bordoff:  And you mentioned petrochemicals a few times which -- which is an important area of investment and expansion for UAE and for Mubadala.  If you look at the projections from say the International Energy Agency it is the largest source of demand growth for oil, but as you mentioned there is also a lot of concern and backlash to plastic waste and pollution.  What -- what do you see as the outlook for global expansion of petrochemicals?

[00:26:21]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah.  I am very optimistic when it comes to the petrochemical.  I think the demand looks robust going forward.  And it will also enable the parts of the decarbonization future and the artificial intelligence, the industrial revolution 4.0 to be realized.  However, there is headwind and we know that the plastic waste is a big issue.  And I think it’s very critical, very important for the petrochemical producers to acknowledge that, embrace all the policies and you know, procedures to eradicate the plastic waste issue.  When it comes to the plastic waste, Jason it’s slightly I would say dramatically -- dramatically different than the climate change because plastic waste is a human behavior.  So if you, you know, improve or put the right policies or guidelines around using plastic I think we -- we have the potential to eradicate that risk.

Mubadala and the company we invest in are very committed to push their agenda on circular economy and you know, plastic waste also removal.  So, we’re very active in different fronts to tackle that issue.  I remain optimistic because I think or I believe the industry will push more and more into circular economy, plastic recycling and putting the right efforts to clean you know, some of the areas where we see a significant plastic waste you know, contamination.

[00:28:04]
Jason Bordoff:  Yeah we certainly need more recycling and -- and better behavior, I think there probably will be more pressure also on single use plastics and finding alternatives for those and I guess the question is how much does that dent the outlook for petrochemical demand?

[00:28:18]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah, we you know, the -- when you look at the typical you know, petrochemical companies especially polyethylene the single use plastic is contributes more portion of their total production.  But there is a strong drive and more within the players to you know, to focus more and -- on the -- the other applications for plastics and try to minimize or completely remove the single waste -- single use plastic in -- in their portfolio.  I see that also the agenda for circular economy is -- is moving forward through our exposure in Europe and also North America.  It is becoming a hot debate, a hot topic I am sure at many petrochemical boards meetings and you know, I remain optimistic because I see that there is a genuine and strong commitment from the producers, petrochemical producers to tackle this issue and put the right you know, plan in place.

[00:29:32]
Jason Bordoff:  Yeah.  I think we just saw Dow Chemical come out with a plan for how they’re going to try to decarbonize the sector by 2050 and but the point you just made a minute ago is an important one that I think it’s often not well understood.  There is a lot of focus on single use plastic waste like plastic bags and straws and other things and -- and we should of course reduce those, but those actually are not the primary drivers of the growth in -- in petrochemical demand in terms of how petrochemicals tend to get used.  This relates also to what I want to ask you about the outlook for -- for gas markets globally and for gas demand.  The IEA projects industrial consumption of gas for chemical feed stocks to increase quite rapidly I think around a three and half percent annual growth rate thanks to new fertilizer and ethanol projects and such.  What’s your view of the gas to chemical sector moving forward?

[00:30:23]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah, I think the natural gas in particular we think it’s the you know, when you look at the growth in the energy source is going forward, renewable energy definitely is enjoying the highest rate of growth, next to it is the natural gas.  And the natural gas is the beauty of it it’s the minimum carbon footprint among the fossil fuel you know, sources.  So, you know, we remain optimistic about the future of natural gas currently there is an oversupply definitely in the -- in the global market.  If you look at Mubadala Petroleum the upstream arm of Mubadala we’re gas weighted, so we acknowledge the importance of gas and so we have big position in Southeast Asia, we have also a big position in East Mediterranean and you know, that reflects the strong belief that gas will play a great role in meeting I would say the future energy demand.  While also the source of energy with an acceptable level of carbon or CO2 emission.

The -- as you mentioned I think for petrochemicals if you look at the U.S. industrial activities after the Shale Revolution there is a theme called reindustrialization in the U.S. and I would say a significant part of all the industrial activities happened in the petrochemical and the shale you know, activities.  So, with an able position North America as a leading and cost effective I would say producer of polyethylene and petrochemical products globally.  And we see the trend happening in -- elsewhere and in the world, but yes I mean it’s -- it’s a remarkable story what happened to the petrochemical and the especially in North America provided you know, that the environment and the -- the natural availability of natural gas enabled that to -- to happen.  So, to summarize I think the natural gas will play role in meeting the future energy demand and also meeting the petrochemical industrial demand in the future.

[00:32:49]
Jason Bordoff:  Yeah.  As you -- as you said Mubadala is a strong gas player and I think the direct role in -- in LNG has been more modest.  Is that an area of focused, do you see that as an area of expansion for Mubadala?

[00:33:04]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  We you know, we’ve been monitoring the space we -- we evaluated many projects globally.  I think you know you need to put things in perspective.  So, with the current projection and the -- and the energy demand going forward.  We definitely as I mentioned earlier we put more weight on the renewable energy, we also acknowledge that natural gas will play a role, but you know, sometimes it’s really a challenge to find the right project that meets an investment criteria and attracting the right type of returns that you know you’re expecting to generate.  We have you know, evaluated the space, we put some investment in the LNG and you know, we continue monitoring what’s going to happen in the next few years.  Yeah, it’s very interesting space and you know, the world will need more and more LNG in the future and -- but also other sources of energy.

So, yeah I think the -- the LNG, there are you know, big -- big players in the -- in the market really impressed also with the U.S. becoming one of the leading exporters of LNG globally.  And you know, thanks again to the Shale Revolution.  Russia as well is becoming and emerging as an LNG power house and you know, historically also it’s in other regions like Australia and Africa might become also a -- a player in the LNG space.  So, for a company like Mubadala we look at these projects as long as they meet certain investment criteria we will take our decision accordingly, but you know, the it’s -- it’s an interesting space to monitor.

[00:35:04]
Jason Bordoff:  I think the U.S. is one of those places you’ve sort of dipped your toe in the water you tell me if I am right, I think you have an initial interest in next decade.  Do -- do you think U.S. LNG sort of stacks up favorably compared to some of those other opportunities or is it going to be challenging to see any new investment in U.S. LNG?

[00:35:21]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  No, I still maintained the same view I mean you see this COVID-19 is like a high frequency event and hopefully and the -- and the trend going forward.  So, look at the U.S. it’s -- there is an ample supply of natural gas and the largest gas producer globally, shale of course enabled that position.  You know, and the -- the infrastructure is available and there are many success stories with LNG in -- in the U.S.  So, there are many already operation -- operating projects that are making I would say strong or additional supply to the -- to the LNG market globally.  And if we get COVID-19 behind us, I think it’s going to interesting to see the that space one more time and future LNG prices as a result of demand.  So, it’s a combination of you know, parameters and I still think that the U.S. is an interesting space to -- to monitor especially in the natural gas and LNG.

[00:36:41]
Jason Bordoff:  And you mentioned the Eastern Med where you have significant interest in -- in some of the offshore Egyptian LNG fields, do you -- do you think, is there -- is there any way in which you know, quite a historic event the recent normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel, does that have any impact for the energy sector, does that expand opportunities or investment you think in Eastern Med natural gas?

[00:37:03]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Well, as you mentioned we invested in -- in the Zohr field in -- in Egypt where it’s the largest natural gas field in the East Mediterranean.  It’s interesting to see the dynamics in the East Mediterranean.  I think by far Egypt is the big player there, they have a significant reserve and they also have the infrastructure to enable and potential export of LNG in the future.  And we’ll -- we’ll monitor the situation there, I think it’s -- it’s very interesting and as you mentioned I think there is also some diplomatic and you know, initiatives in place and you know, the UAE and Israel normalized that relationship.  The government will and institutions in the UAE will look at these and we will treat any investment opportunities in East Mediterranean purely from an investment point of view and we will act accordingly.  But interesting dynamics and -- but challenging by the way.  I mean if you look at that part of the world, it is very interesting, but there are few challenges in place.

[00:38:22]
Jason Bordoff:  Yeah, I think there is a fair amount of concern with some of the geopolitical tension in the region including some of the recent Turkish provocations in the region.  So, I think people are looking -- looking at the Eastern Med and from the geopolitical lens there is opportunity, but there are challenges as well as you say.  In the -- in the domestically you have a large share of the market via the Dolphin pipeline, natural gas pipeline and we’ve seen in the UAE -- the start of nuclear power now a lot more solar power.  What impact does that have on the changing domestic market for the fuel mix for electricity generation?

[00:39:00]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Well I think it reflects also the complexion of the government that they are fully behind the vision and strategy that was presented earlier a few years back by 2050 to have 50% of the energy demand in the -- in the UAE or power demand in the UAE green coming from green sources.  So, nuclear will play a major part of that, but also the solar and renewable energy and 50% remaining is from natural gas.  So, with these I think it’s creating new dynamics, a new landscape, natural gas will continue to play a big role in the industry and in the power generation for many years to come.  So, yes it’s a reflection Jason of the government vision to embrace the new energy trends and become I would say you know, less dependent on natural gas because 10 years back we’re almost 100% relying on natural gas for power generation going forward I think strategically it’s important and critical to diversify the energy sources and you know, have a mix of sources in your energy supply.

[00:40:31]
Jason Bordoff:  I mentioned a minute ago just in closing we’re almost out of time, but you know, I know you watch technology trends very carefully, so what are you most excited about what do you see coming around the corner that maybe we’re not talking as much today about, but we will be in a few years in terms of how technology will impact the energy sector whether it’s decarbonization technologies or things that affect demand and transportation and autonomous vehicles and the rest, but what do you see – or artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.  What are you excited about in the technology space?

[00:41:04]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Well, it’s a big space to talk about and definitely and even the artificial intelligence term is a very widely used, but yeah I think if I would rank two or three of these technologies, I would say artificial intelligence is becoming on the -- on the top and why I am saying this because even in our industry this -- the oil and gas industry is a labor intensive industry, either we like it or we don’t.  And I see a space that we could automate many of the operation and you know, the facilities we operate and see an automated you know, operation and production in the -- in the future with a minimum human interaction.  That would be I would say a future that I possibly see in the -- in the horizon.  So yeah the likes of artificial intelligence will make -- will make a big role in enabling that vision.

The other technology, the technology related to I would say energy going forward, the energy transition.  So in the energy transition of course we’ve been in heavy industry and the renewable energy, but if there is something that could potentially accelerate that energy disruption I would say hydrogen -- hydrogen in the next 10 years if there is a right commitment right technology deployment in that space we might see hydrogen playing a bigger role in fulfilling the future energy demand for energy.

[00:42:42]
Jason Bordoff:  Well, we’ll watch the space carefully and hopefully have the chance to talk with you many more times to help us understand how it’s all evolving.  Musabbeh Al Kaabi, I know how much you have going on and you’ve been very generous with your time.  So, thank you for spending time with us on ADIPEC Energy dialogues.  I am sorry we couldn’t do it in-person, but hopefully we’ll see you in Abu Dhabi or maybe at Columbia University in New York very soon and see you virtually at the ADIPEC virtual conference in November.  Good to see again, thank you for being with us.

[00:43:13]
Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Thank you, Jason and that’s truly an honor again to be a part of ADIPEC and looking forward for interesting conversation around ADIPEC coming up, so thanks a lot.

[00:43:23]
Jason Bordoff:  Thank you so much Musabbeh, and thank you to you our listeners for joining us on this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange.  For more information about the podcast or the Center on Global Energy Policy visit us online at energypolicy.columbia.edu or follow us on social media @columbiauenergy.  I am Jason Bordoff, thanks for listening, we’ll see you next week.