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Experts from Texas A&M at Qatar organize international natural gas workshop

Published May 26, 2021

Faculty from Texas A&M University at Qatar organized a recent international workshop on advances in natural gas processing.

In collaboration with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the Third Natural Gas Utilization Workshop, Advancement in Natural Gas Processing: Challenges and Opportunities, was organized by conference chair Dr. Nimir Elbashir, professor of chemical and petroleum engineering and director of the TEES Gas and Fuels Research Center, and co-chair Dr. Dhabia Al-Mohannadi, assistant professor of chemical engineering. Dr. Ma’moun Al-Rawashdeh, assistant professor of chemical engineering, was technical chair of the workshop. The organizing committee included Dr. Muftah Elnaas, director of the Gas Processing Center at Qatar University; Dr. Dharmesh Kumar, new project lead at Qatar Shell Research and Technology Center; and Dr. Debalina Sengupta from Texas A&M’s main campus.

The workshop — the first AIChE natural gas utilization workshop to be hosted outside the United States — brought together leaders in downstream natural gas conversion across industry, academia and government to discuss perspectives on hurdles to technology implementation and to highlight advancement in natural gas processing technologies, focusing on the challenges and the potentials for the industry to grow. Topics focused on novel advances in natural gas conversion and the natural gas energy of the future.

Elbashir said AIChE started this unique workshop to bring together policymakers, government agencies, industry and academia together to talk about the potential of natural gas to play a major role in the energy mix in the USA, specifically after the shale gas boom, aiming to build successful collaboration models between all stakeholders to expand natural gas monetization.

“This third workshop is special,” Elbashir said, “because it recognizes Qatar's success story as a leading nation in natural gas processing. The impressive journey of Qatar in building its infrastructure and projects in natural gas has been recognized globally. It is currently the leader in the LNG market and hosting the world's largest GTL plants. Most of the leading energy corporations have participated in this success story led by Qatar Petroleum and Qatargas.”

During the workshop, attendees heard from the country’s leaders in this area how Qatar built this success story and formed global energy corporations and about building a world-class research funding agency and research centers currently working with industry to boost natural gas utilization success in Qatar and worldwide. Speakers included His Excellency Dr. Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Sada, former Minister of Energy and Industry of the State of Qatar; Khalid Al Thani, Qatargas CEO; and Dr. Abdul Sattar Al Taie, executive director of the Qatar National Research Fund, as well as speakers from ExxonMobil, Total, Shell and many universities.

In addition, the workshop hosted speakers from the U.S. Department of Energy and its National Energy Technology Lab, in addition to world-leading scientists from around the globe, who shared their experience and expertise in this field. Students and researchers from Qatar and different counties shared their research activities on the different parts of the industry.

Al-Mohannadi said, “Natural gas has played a significant role in transforming Qatar’s economy and helped in the world energy transition through fuel switching from coal to gas. However, in the future it faces a challenge of decarbonization. Through the workshop, we had interesting discussions and got to hear different perspectives, both from industry and academia, on how to best approach this challenge.” In addition, Al-Rawashdeh said, “that technologies of the future in this domain will depend strongly on renewable electricity, and on using non-conventional equipment’s and processes which will not only increase productivity but will maximize safety and minimize or avoid emissions. This workshop shed light on some of these key technologies to make platform chemicals and noncarbon fuels like hydrogen and ammonia from natural gas.”

Dr. César Octavio Malavé, dean of Texas A&M at Qatar, said that interdisciplinary collaborations and exchanges of knowledge that workshops such as this one provided are vital in enabling innovation to meet emerging needs and grand challenges.

“Qatar is a world leader in the area of natural gas utilization,” Malavé said, “and many of our faculty are conducting research that support natural gas utilization, from catalyst and process design, to optimization systems, to carbon capture utilization and storage. At Texas A&M at Qatar, we seek to not only advance our collective understanding through research, but we also aim to provide a platform where experts from industry, government and academia can engage in stimulating conversations on critical real-world topics. We are proud to partner with local, regional and international collaborators from industry, academia and the public sector to help realize sustainable solutions to real-world issues in Qatar and around the world.”