What new and innovative energy strategies are being explored in the Netherlands?

VERHAGEN: In our new innovation policy we want to combine the expertise of companies, research institutions and the government. So we work together and focus on new products and services to provide an answer to the global challenges we are all facing nowadays with regard to climate and scarcity of resources. If we have a combination of knowledge institutes, research institutes, entrepreneurs, and the government, then we have the best use of our investments. The second element is that I would like to attract investments for research and development from companies themselves. So I introduced a tax reduction for investments in R&D to stimulate investments from private companies themselves.

How will gas trading play a role in the future of the Netherlands?

VERHAGEN: Since 1959 we have been a gas producing country because we have the largest gas fields in continental Europe. Over the years, we have created a lot of expertise not only in gas production, but also in storage, infrastructure, and in trading. We have developed from a gas producing country to also a gas trading country. We established a very good cross-border infrastructure with neighboring countries, so now we are the gas hub to Northwest Europe. Our port of Rotterdam is well established as a gateway the to European single market. To make use of this opportunity of the gateway to Europe, we have also opened a new LNG terminal in Rotterdam where the largest LNG transfer ships can dock. The first ship from Qatar already docked in Rotterdam. So we produce gas, we trade gas, and we store gas, so that we become the gas hub of Northwest Europe.

Which renewable energies and alternatives show the most promise?

VERHAGEN: I think it is up to the market. It is not for governments to decide what is the most cost effective, sustainable, renewable energy form. What I am convinced of, is that for the foreseeable future, that gas will play a very important role even though it is a fossil fuel. It is not only the cleanest fossil fuel, but there is enough gas available for the forthcoming 100 or 200 years. It is also an ideal backup energy source. Wind and solar are not always available and a gas plant can easily be switched off and used when necessary. Especially in a future of more and more renewable energy, I am convinced that gas will play a huge role in the energy mix of the future.

How significant is the World Petroleum Congress and how significant is the fact that it is being held in the Middle East for the first time?

VERHAGEN: The WPC is of the utmost importance. You can compare it with the Olympics but in the realm of petroleum and energy. Of course, the Netherlands wants to be on the podium. I think it is important that it is now in Qatar because it is the first time that it is in the Middle East and in the Gulf. The Gulf and the Middle East play a huge role in the energy supply of the world. Therefore it is obvious and logical that this WPC is now in Qatar.