Atlantic Council
Global Energy Forum

Official Opening of the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum

Welcome Remarks By:
Frederick Kempe,
President and CEO,
Atlantic Council

Gov. Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.,
Atlantic Council

H.E. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber,
Chairman, Masdar;
CEO, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company

H.E. Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazrouei,
Minister of Energy,
United Arab Emirates

Adnan Z. Amin,
International Renewable Energy Agency

Mohamed Al Hammadi,
Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation

Location: Al Maryah Ballroom, Four Seasons, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Time: 10:00 a.m. Local
Date: Thursday, January 12, 2017


FREDERICK KEMPE:  Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, what an immense pleasure it is to stand before you and welcome you to the inaugural Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum.  Welcome to Abu Dhabi, the world’s energy capital for the next week.

It’s our great honor to hold this forum under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the United Emirates Armed Forces.

Before I move into the conference opening, I want to take a moment to communicate our deepest condolences to our hosts for the loss of your diplomats in Kandahar, Afghanistan yesterday.  Our hearts and our prayers are with their families, their friends, and all Emiratis for the loss of these courageous civil servants carrying out an essential humanitarian mission in support of the people and Afghanistan.  We have seen the UAE extend its hand around the world to serving others, and this service of commitment to creating a better world occasionally entails this sort of risk and this sort of sacrifice.  The diplomats were in Kandahar to lay a foundation stone for an orphanage brought there by the UAE.  Please join me in a moment of silence for those who were lost and in memory of – in memory of their service.

(A moment of silence is observed.)

Thank you.

We are immensely pleased that our Atlantic Council Global Forum opens and – opens and kicks off the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, the largest gathering on energy and sustainability in the history of the Middle East, addressing the interconnected challenges that affect the widespread acceleration and adoption of sustainable development and clean energy.  We have been proud to work with our key partners – Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei and the UAE Energy Ministry; Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, host of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, chairman of Masdar, and CEO of ADNOC; Khaldoon Al Mubarak, CEO of Mubadala and IPIC – representing our presenting partners.  This is truly a dream team of partners for a global energy gathering.

As I told them as we planned to convene here, I can’t think of another country in the world that is a better place to launch a Global Energy Forum:  a country that is rich and had made the most out of its fossil fuels for the service of its people and its region, but then has stretched that to being a leader in renewable energy and now nuclear as well.  We can genuinely talk about all of the above in the UAE.  Thank you for your generous support, because under your leadership Abu Dhabi has truly emerged as one of the most influential global players in the energy and sustainability space.  The fact that the UAE announced yesterday that it would be spending $163 billion over the next three decades on clean energy, and that clean energy would be 50 percent of your output or of the sector in 2050, is nothing short of miraculous.

We’re also very, very grateful to Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum, and Karl Hopkins, global chief security officer and partner of Dentons, representing our platinum co-chairs.  And, Majid, it’s great to have your brother and your father here as well, Hamid and Badr.

We’re grateful for our silver sponsors, GE and SICPA; our bronze sponsors, Cafe Milano, Cheniere, DTEK, Parsons and WSP.  Without your support, we couldn’t do it this time.  And we hope to work with you in the years ahead as well.

A special thanks to CNN, our international media partner, represented by Becky Anderson and John Defterios; and to Sky News Arabia, our Arabic language media partner, for their great support.  And I want to assure everyone in the audience there will be nothing but real news here in the next two days.  (Laughter.)  I couldn’t resist that one.

Our ambition is to contribute to the thinking about how energy shapes our common future.  We intend to establish the Forum as an annual event to discuss the geopolitics of the energy transformation, but also as an event to set the agenda for the year ahead.  We’ve been talking about it a little bit as from sea to snow, or from sand to snow, starting the geopolitical discussion here and then it moves forward into Davos in a week’s time.  For the next two days, we hope to engage you – leading policymakers, business leaders and experts – in a productive conversation.  You are the ones shaping the global energy, and we hope you will do that with us this week and into the future.

And now I’m honored to introduce our chairman, Governor Jon Huntsman, who will formally open the Forum.  He is in the – he is the embodiment of what the Atlantic Council stands for:  its bipartisan spirit, its commitment to constructive U.S. engagement working alongside our allies and friends to create a more secure future around the world, high integrity.  A former U.S. ambassador to China and Singapore and governor of my home state of Utah, a wise statesman, seasoned diplomat, great friend, and also a business leader on several boards, including Chevron, Caterpillar, Ford, Hilton and, of course, Huntsman as well.  So, gentlemen and ladies, please welcome our chairman, Jon Huntsman.  (Applause.)

JON M. HUNTSMAN, JR.:  Thank you, Fred.

Fred Kempe, like energy, is one of America’s indispensable resources, if I could put it that way.  He’s a policy entrepreneur and institution builder without equal.  And I have to tell you, it’s been one of my great professional honors and experiences to be able to work with him and to chair the board of the Atlantic Council.

I’d also like to recognize our former chair of the Atlantic Council, Jim Jones – General Jim Jones, former U.S. national security advisor, who is here with us as well.

But we’re driven and informed and led by a Board of Directors and an International Advisory Board, many of whose members will be with us over the course of the next two days.  And I want to personally thank them for their engagement:  Philippe Amon, Tewodros Ashenafi, Faith Birol, Rafic Bizri, Ahmed Charai, Ankit Desai, Paula Dobriansky, Mehmet Nazif Günal, Steve Hadley, Ed Holland, Karl Hopkins, Majid Jafar, Jim Jones, Franco Nuschese, Carlos Pascual, Dan Poneman, and Harry Sachinis.  We thank them, one and all, for their ongoing participation in the affairs of the Atlantic Council.

Now, ministers, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, friends, thank you all for joining us here today.  We welcome you to the inaugural Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum.  What a unique gathering this is.

And it’s such a pleasure to be back in Abu Dhabi, a truly exceptional city that brims with culture, history and life, while also being a crucial hub for technology and innovation.  In so many ways, you are redefining 21st-century standards for livability and competitiveness.

Since its founding more than 50 years ago, the Atlantic Council has advocated for the strengthening of the transatlantic relationship.  Today our focus is to renew the transatlantic alliance to address global 21st-century challenges, a purpose that led us straight here to the UAE – a dynamic country with huge significance on the global stage.  Strategically located between the Middle East and Asia, and a critical player in the global energy sphere, the UAE provides an ideal platform for discussions on emerging challenges and opportunities in the region, and indeed around the world.

Now, at the Atlantic Council, we are fond of saying the world is at an inflection point.  We’re living through turbulent times.  As four civil wars plague the Middle East with violence and bloodshed, countries in the region are facing unrelenting social and political upheaval.  Liberal democracies experiencing backlashes in globalization are retreating from strategies of engagement, broadening the vacuum of global leadership.  And technological advances, climate change, and major shifts in the global energy markets increasingly have geopolitical and geoeconomic repercussions that can’t be avoided, particularly as we grapple with the realities of a carbon-constrained world.

Over the next two days, our sessions – each geared toward our overall theme of the geopolitics of energy transformation – will feature leading policymakers and business leaders to discuss effective ways to strengthen energy markets, advance new technologies, and above all how to make do in a most uncertain political climate.

Now, in convening this Forum, the Council also seeks to demonstrate our commitment to U.S. engagement in this vital region, as well as to the value of working with partners and friends toward developing common approaches and strategies that promote prosperity, stability and peace.

So thank you, one and all, for being part of our first Global Energy Forum.  I somehow think that there will be many more to come.

Let me join Fred in expressing our deepest gratitude to our UAE partners and sponsors of this extraordinary gathering.  We deeply appreciate their commitment to the Atlantic Council and to our overall mission.

And now I’d like to turn the stage over to His Excellency Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, chairman of Masdar, CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.  Dr. Sultan, the floor is yours.  We welcome you.  (Applause.)


(Continues in English.)  Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to the five UAE diplomats whose lives were cut short while trying to bring humanitarian relief to Afghanistan.  Their sacrifice reminds us that the values that unite us are, in fact, much stronger than any evil that attempts to divide us.

Ladies and gentlemen, it indeed gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the first Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum.  This Forum represents an important addition to the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, and will add a critical geopolitical perspective to the central challenge of how we meet the world’s growing energy demands.

For over a century, politics and economics have influenced the energy sector.  But today’s complex and interconnected world requires us to have an even deeper understanding of trends locally, regionally, and globally.

The energy outlook for 2040 reveals three major trends.  First, energy demand will sharply grow, by 25 percent.  Second, most of this new demand will come from non-OECD countries that will make up two-thirds of all energy consumption by 2040.  And third, a steep reduction in the cost of renewables, especially solar, is reshaping the economics of energy.  In fact, a new economic model is emerging based on the complementarity of new and traditional forms of energy, where both reinforce each other to efficiently and sustainably meet rising demand.

Electric vehicles are a growing segment of the transportation sector.  Yet, oil will remain a primary fuel for decades to come and a staple ingredient for refined and petrochemical products.  And natural gas will play a key role in generating lower-emission power alongside renewables and, of course, nuclear energy.

The bottom line here is just very simple:  there is no silver-bullet solution to the world’s growing energy needs.  Every form will be essential.  All most work in close integration across borders, multiple geographies, and diverse regulatory frameworks.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen and friends, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Atlantic Council for convening this very important gathering of leaders from the entire energy spectrum alongside some of the world’s top policy thinkers.  Collectively, we will deepen our understanding of the critical challenges before us, anticipate future scenarios, and together suggest practical solutions.  I am confident that the combined vision in this room will make a positive contribution to our common energy future.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

ANNOUNCER:  Please welcome to the stage Minister of Energy of the United Arab Emirates Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazrouei.  (Applause.)


(Continues in English.)  Good morning excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the United Arab Emirates.  We are so excited to see this gathering after an intense collaboration and work with the Atlantic Council.  We wanted to bring the Atlantic Council to focus on this chapter of energy because in any geopolitical situation, you go and look, and you will find energy is either an enabler or an issue that you need to resolve.

This event comes in between two very important events for the industry and for the region.  One is the largest oil and gas conference in the world, ADIPEC.  The second is the Sustainability Week that is ahead of us the rest of the coming week.  And each one of those events gather the best minds and the best companies in the world and the best – and most of the regulators to come and try to resolve the issues around energy.

And this first Atlantic Council Energy Forum comes at a very exciting time for us in the United Arab Emirates.  Two days ago, we launched our Energy Strategy 2050 that we developed with all of the stakeholders working in energy in the United Arab Emirates.  And when I say energy, I’m not talking about only electricity; transportation, electricity, all forms of energy.  And after two years of an intense work and collaboration with most of the countries who have developed their strategies or those who are working on developing their strategy, we came up with the conclusion and we set the strategy, which was endorsed.

Just to give you headlights of that, or heading numbers of that with that policy, it came actually in a balance between the green forms of energy, or the renewable forms of energy, and the nuclear, which has zero emissions, and the fossil fuels.  So we call it 50 at ’50.  So the energy policy or strategy in the United Arab Emirates called for an energy mix of 44 percent renewable energy and around 6 percent nuclear, and 38 percent natural gas and around 12 percent super-critical clean coal – or whatever technology comes to clean – to further clean the coal, because we have seen an immense work trying to make coal work, because that energy that is abundant around us, we need to clean it.

And I would like to thank my brother and colleague, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, for bringing to UAE one of the first in the region CO2 carbon capture and injection into one of our fields.  That innovative idea, and likewise another project in Saudi Arabia, is going to unlock for us opportunities to clean the different forms of energy.

So I look forward to the discussion that we will have in these two days between us as policymakers and industry to try to put a perspective on what we are expecting in the next decades, because for this region it needs definitely peace – and UAE is working toward peace, and it’s unfortunate to lose some of our heroes who are – who left their houses and their comfortable lives, and went to Afghanistan to help humanity and to give.  But at the same time, those sacrifices make us stronger, that we need to continue this journey.  We need to plan.  We need to work hard to achieve that peace.  And that peace cannot be achieved without reliable and sustainable sources of energy.

Before I finish, I would like to thank the Atlantic Council and all of those who worked very hard behind the scenes to make this event a successful event, and to bring us all together to hopefully discuss and find some of the conclusions that we can recommend to the leaders here in this country and in the other countries to resolve some of the energy issues around us.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

ANNOUNCER:  Please welcome to the stage Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency Adnan Z. Amin.  (Applause.)

ADNAN Z. AMIN:  Your Excellency Mr. Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazrouei, minister of energy of the UAE, Your Excellency my friend Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of ADNOC, chairman of Masdar and a multitude of other titles – good to see you, Sultan – your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, let me start by adding my voice of condolences for the loss of five diplomats in Afghanistan the other day.  This senseless act that deprived us of these five wonderful individuals is all the more tragic because they were engaged in a tradition which represents the finest aspects of Arab and Islamic civilization, which is helping those in need.  And for us in our headquarters in Abu Dhabi, where we have over the years become part of the fabric of this city and this country, it is as tragic for us.  And we join you, your excellencies, in sending our condolences to the families of these victims.  And we are heartened by the commitment of the UAE government that in the future these acts will not deter the UAE and others who wish to pursue a path of hopefulness in the face of evil.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great honor for me and a pleasure to address the opening ceremony of the first-ever Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi.  I’d like to first thank Fred Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council, and Governor Jon Huntsman, chairman, and their teams for the great efforts they have extended and the long conversations we have had in the past in the organization of this wonderful event and bringing so many important actors together for this discussion.  This broad range of prominent participants assembled here today reflects the convening power and the global standing of the Atlantic Council, which it enjoys not only in Washington, D.C. – its home – but also in many different parts of the world.

And I’d like to express my appreciation once again to Fred and Richard Morningstar for their support when they enabled us to present our views to the American public about the renewable energy future of the U.S.  There was a show which we – which we had in Washington, D.C., and Amos Hochstein and I competed in developing superlatives around renewables.  But I think the important thing of using your venue for that discussion was that it de-politicized the discussion and focused on the essential issue of energy transformation as something that’s going to impact society and countries around the world in the future.

So having this Forum here in Abu Dhabi at this time could not have been more appropriate, with the start of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week tomorrow.  The world is witnessing an unprecedented energy transformation.  Countries rich and poor are scaling up renewables deployment to levels many thought impossible only a few years ago, and the UAE is at the forefront of this transformation.

The UAE Energy Plan 2050, which Suhail talked about, has just announced its aims to increase clean energy use by 50 percent, improve energy efficiency by 40 percent, and cut carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2050.  Renewables are expected to account for about 44 percent of the country’s energy consumption by that time.  Remarkable that a country that has built its wealth and its standing on the basis of the old economy is looking forward to a new energy future, diversifying its economy and creating the basis for sustainability.  This involves about $163 billion of investment up to 2050, and we are seeing around the world more and more countries that are making announcements of very ambitious targets.  For example, China just spoke about a $360 billion investment in clean energy, and many other countries which are stepping up to the plate.  And we hope that this will be a momentum that will bring others along with it.

Such ambitious plans in the UAE would not have been possible without a bold and visionary leadership to which – to which I wish to pay tribute in the person of His Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has exemplified this leadership.  One of the great joys of being in this country is that in many places of the world we see leadership with vision.  There are less places where that vision is translated as a matter of fact into action, and UAE is one of these countries.  Known for its vast oil resources, the UAE embarked decisively more than a decade ago on the sustainable development path, which also led to hosting the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy (Agency), the first global international intergovernmental energy organization, and thus achieving a unique positioning in the global energy landscape.

On Friday, IRENA’s annual assembly will start, bringing together delegates from 150 countries, including several heads of state and over 75 ministers, to advance the global renewable energy agenda.  The unwavering support of our host country has been critical in making IRENA the vibrant international institution it is today, at the forefront of the global effort to achieve a sustainable and – a sustainable and prosperous future.

Our host country, the UAE, standing at the crossroads of different continents and cultures, has consistently cultivated openness, dialogue and tolerance.  For this reason, too, it is well-positioned to bring together energy leaders from different backgrounds and interests for a much more timely and formal dialogue at a critical moment, in which an energy transformation with considerable geopolitical implications is unfolding – a juncture in which energy is not only vital to powering our economies, but also to pursuing a host of sustainable development objectives such as food and water security, and climate action.  I am confident that the meeting’s rich program will help bring forward ideas and solutions to tackle the myriads of challenges to which the world of energy is confronted today, and I look forward in participating actively in these discussions.

And, once again, thank you, Fred, thank you, Mr. Huntsman, for your efforts in bringing this Forum also to Abu Dhabi.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

ANNOUNCER:  Please welcome to the stage CEO of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation Mohamed Al Hammadi.  (Applause.)

MOHAMED AL HAMMADI:  Your excellencies, distinguished guests, yesterday we’ve lost, you know, people in the – in making peace.  And actually have two of them are – you know, one of them is a relative, another one is a teacher that, you know, they were lost.  And those guys would be legends, and will mark the future peace for the UAE and the region.

Thank you for inviting ENEC, the entity leading the UAE peaceful nuclear energy program, to address the opening ceremony of the first global energy summit.  I would like to focus my opening remarks on the lessons learned so far from the UAE peaceful nuclear energy program and the synergies with the theme of this global energy summit.

The development of the nuclear peaceful program in the UAE already created a solid value across many strategic sectors, both local and international.  At our site, ENEC is approaching the operation of our first nuclear power plant.  There are four units.  Unit number one is around 92-plus percent completed as of today.

However, the development of nuclear – peaceful nuclear program has already begun to actively contribute to the well-being of the country, our economy, and the development of the UAE energy sector.  The tangible benefits are multiple.  Today, working under the high standard of nuclear safety/security imposed by our regulator, our site in Barakah is the biggest nuclear construction site in the world.

As the first new peaceful nuclear energy program in decades, we continue to serve as an example for emerging nations and the development of peaceful nuclear energy programs.  In fact, the quality of engineering in the UAE and the experience brought by KEPCO, our prime contractor, has enabled Barakah to be the only site in the world capable of simultaneously building four identical reactors.  These are delivered under the highest standard of nuclear safety, security and transparency.  The UAE, in a major feat of engineering, will contribute to the progress of the future for generation and decades to come.

Another benefit:  that, for years, ENEC has invested resources in the development of talented Emiratis in the nuclear industry.  And those will be professional leaders in the operation of these power plants in a safe, reliable manner.  Today, hundreds of Emiratis based in Barakah, and many of them being trained in simulators in Barakah to become experts and experienced individuals that will be certified by our regulator as reactor operators and senior reactor operators.

The delivery program sets a steady path to meet our goals as part of the COP21 Paris Agreement.  Our four reactors will boost clean energy production and provide an estimated 25 percent of clean energy by 2020, along with saving us the equivalent of around 14 million tons of CO2 emissions annually.

In the area of government and international collaboration, the development of Barakah a joint effort between many entities, local, federal and international partners.  Barakah is a truly international project that brings together 30 – over 30 nationalities onsite, with collaboration between hundreds of stakeholders and a thousand of best nuclear experts in a unique global energy megaproject.  This megaproject has already changed the dynamics of the international nuclear energy sector and becoming a new force in nuclear excellence.

Today, the nuclear industry looks to the UAE as a reference model in the development of new – of a new build.  The UAE is ready to take on responsibility of becoming a nuclear energy producing nation and continuing its commitment to the highest standards of operation, transparency, and nonproliferation.  In this sense, we have created a new level of international collaboration and work under the supervision of international organizations and agencies, such as the IAEA and WANO, to continuously improve the learning and the development of our project.

Nuclear energy is unique, and it raises the national standards and requirements for safety, quality, security.  Our plants in Barakah are governed by the highest standards of security, in close cooperation with our security agencies both in physical and cyberspace.

Looking forward to the future, I’m glad to share with you three key priorities that ENEC will be focusing on.  First, ensuring the sustainability of the Barakah project.  In this sense, I’m glad to announce that the Barakah project has been built in a sound foundation, especially after the completion of the joint venture partnership between ENEC and KEPCO.  We also achieved a reference project financing within the energy sector, with a commitment of around $24 billion U.S. to the Barakah project by international, local institutions and commercial lenders.

Our second priority is to create and develop the local nuclear industry sector here in the UAE.  As with the cases of other nations such as Korea, U.S. – Korea and the U.S., the development of a locally based nuclear sector brings multibillion dollars, opportunities for local and international investors.

Our third priority is the continuing expansion of the UAE nuclear energy sector.  By working with our partners in the government, we will continue to expand our nuclear program locally, as well as collaborate with regional entities and countries to develop a peaceful nuclear energy program.  And His Excellency Suhail mentioned earlier this policy makes my life easier.  In our opinion, the future of nuclear energy is bright, and the UAE – in the UAE and around the world.

I would like to thank you, and I look forward to seeing you in our afternoon session and the nuclear panel.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

ANNOUNCER:  Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated while we take a photo with our speakers.