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Big boost for UAE-UK ties

DUBAI — British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday assured energy corporations in the UAE that a framework for investment into UK energy markets would be in place by next month.
He welcomed the overall investment from the UAE in the UK and pledged that he would create the best market framework for securing further investment from the Emirates.

Last month, Cameron surprised the energy industry by announcing a plan to force suppliers to put customers on the cheapest tariffs, hinting out a radical shake-up of the industry.

Reiterating his support for and commitment to the renewable energy sector, Cameron welcomed investment from Taqa in the UK’s Continental Shelf, which supports 35,000 British jobs. He highlighted the vision for nuclear energy in the UK, which mirrors the UAE’s ambitions for four new power plants.

On Tuesday, Cameron met with Masdar CEO Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Taqa board of directors chairman Hamad Al Hurr Al Suwaidi and Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi to discuss tackling future energy needs, partnering on new energy technologies and forthcoming investment into UK energy markets.

The discussions centred on how the UK and the UAE can work together to be world leaders in tackling future energy supply needs by joining forces in exploring new energy technologies as well as providing the right framework to make energy production commercially sound.

Current UAE investments into the UK include Masdar’s 20 per cent stake in the London Array offshore wind farm, which started powering UK homes on October 29. When completed in 2013, the project will provide clean energy for up to 47,000 UK homes. It also includes Taqa’s $4 billion investment to date in the UK’s North Sea sector, making it the largest single UAE investor in the UK, supporting 15,000 jobs directly and 35,000 jobs indirectly. Taqa is active in exploring new and brownfield sites in the UKCS, and is optimistic about doing more.

All UAE energy corporations at the event were optimistic about investing more in the UK, across all energy sectors, including offshore wind, oil and gas, and nuclear.

Cameron was quite emphatic about the UK’s commitment to securing investment by creating the best market framework, saying: “We think we have the best offshore wind market in Europe if not the best offshore wind market in the world so we are very excited about the potential.”

Britain is aiming for 15 per cent of its energy to come from clean sources such as solar and wind by 2020, compared with the current 9.4 per cent. There are divisions between the Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners over the pace of expansion for land-based wind turbines. “The UAE and the United Kingdom have enjoyed strong trade ties across various industries. Today, our nations have broadened the relationship to include renewable energy,” said Dr Al Jaber.

Updating Cameron on Masdar’s investment in the London Array — the world’s largest offshore wind farm — Dr Al Jaber said the project would soon provide more than 470,000 UK residents with clean, sustainable power.

“Our nations are committed to working together and finding the right opportunities for collaboration. We are exploring research and development, technology transfer and partnership opportunities that will help catalySe investments in the renewable energy sector.”

Al Suwaidi said Taqa, which is already the largest UAE investor in the UK, is optimistic about the future of Britain’s North Sea oil and gas industry as long as the right incentives for future investment exist.

Al Hammadi said the Emir-ates Nuclear Energy Corpora-tion pointed out that nuclear energy has been an essential component of the UK’s energy policy, providing affordable, low-carbon energy supply for more than 50 years.

“The UAE will continue to work with responsible nations such as the UK and apply the lessons learned from its nucle-ar energy sector to set a stan-dard for transparent and sus-tainable nuclear new builds, as our nation continues to work towards delivering a safe, reli-able, clean and efficient peace-ful nuclear energy programme by 2017,” he said.

Issac John, 7 November 2012

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