What new initiatives is Yemen LNG currently involved in?
AZIBERT: I would say that currently our facilities are at the optimum in terms of performance and feed gas being supplied. So I will leave the topic of ‘development initiatives’ to the Government to find more gas through exploration. Currently, there is an invitation for bids for petroleum companies to invest in new oil and gas exploration blocks in Yemen. Yemen LNG has plenty of space to build new trains in Balhaf. On another front, we are very active in terms of new initiatives with the local communities as part of our social responsibility programs, whether in education, health, or infrastructure, and through the construction of hospitals, schools, and other projects. As far as education is concerned, we have developed a scholarship program and have awarded about 200 scholarships. So we try to be heavily involved with the local community as local acceptance is essential to us. We also do our part to empower local businesses as we know that this is extremely important.
In 2012 how much LNG was brought to market by Yemen LNG? What are your projections for 2013?
AZIBERT: 2012 was not so good because of all of the incidents we had related to the bombing of the feed gas pipeline. We produced 5.2m tons only, when our design capacity is about 6.7m tons. In reality, it is better whenever there are no unplanned shut-downs and the trains are continuously running. In 2011, which was a good year for us, we were able to produce 7.2m tons. For 2013, our target is 7.4m tons.
How has Yemen’s security situation improved over the past year?
AZIBERT: I would say that the situation is improving. It is difficult to live in such an unstable political situation. However, you have to be patient, and so far, Yemen LNG has not stopped operations. It means that we do believe in Yemen. In terms of security, we are continuously improving our security systems and reinforcement measures. We are also getting more and more back up from the Government and from the army as well. It is important for us to have a shield between ourselves and these entities that are bombing the pipeline. Fortunately, in the past four months, the situation has improved a great deal and we hope that it will carry on like that.
Who are Yemen LNG’s big export markets?
AZIBERT: 90% of our production is going to Asia; Korea, Japan, China, and Taiwan. The rest is going either to Europe or the US, but this is very seldom. 90% of the 7.4m tons this year should go to Asia.
How does current market pricing impact operations and profitability?
AZIBERT: Recently, we were able to re-discuss with two of our buyers, GDF Suez and Total Gas & Power, and we have the flexibility with these two SPAs to go and do some re-routings to obtain better pricing. Therefore, our revenues have improved significantly, potentially doubling from 2011 to 2013. It is important to have this flexibility. Unfortunately, this flexibility does not exist within the Kogas SPA, which is a direct sell to the domestic grid. Hopefully, before the end of the year, we will have re-discussed with our three buyers and improved the LNG selling price for the next five years.
What is the nature of the relationship between Total and Yemen LNG?
AZIBERT: Total is the main shareholder of Yemen LNG. There are 7 shareholders, Total owns 39%, and the Government owns approximately 25%. So overall we are benefiting from Total’s experience at Yemen LNG, both technically and through personnel, as well as in the gas marketing area. This relationship has been critical for us as we need the support of a strong and committed shareholder.
Recently, we were able to re-discuss with two of our buyers, GDF Suez and Total Gas & Power, and we have the flexibility with these two SPAs to go and do some re-routings to obtain better pricing. Therefore, our revenues have improved significantly, potentially doubling from 2011 to 2013.
How would you describe Government's infrastructure provision to Yemen’s energy sector?
AZIBERT: Yemen LNG has a good gas supply from the fields operated by Safer and we have a good relationship between us. This is important to maintain a steady operation. It is also paramount to maintain social peace within the company. This is very important as unions are powerful and can be quite demanding, but we’re in a good position today.
How successful has LNG17 been for Yemen LNG?
AZIBERT: I personally met with a lot of people. So for me, networking has been very good. We have established new relationships with other energy producers, shared experiences, and we look forward to maybe even exchanging people in the future. For instance, we have an LNG school within our plant facilities that can help people prepare for an LNG masters. So we can exchange experience with nearby LNG producers such as Qatar Gas and Rasgas, which I know very well. I was lucky enough to work with Qatar Gas for 5 years, so it is a good link. Therefore, networking and looking at the latest technical issues and progress in terms of optimization and costs were among the issues of interest for us. This conference has been excellent for Yemen LNG to learn and exchange views.
What are your main priorities at Yemen LNG?
AZIBERT: Safety and safe operations is most important for everything we do at Yemen LNG. For us, it is a value that we try to develop and improve constantly in our daily operations. We are a reliable producer of LNG, whether through shipping or through plant performance. It is a small plant. However, it delivers up to 99% reliability, which is among the best in the world. Although we are small, we are ambitious. I have confidence in the future of Yemen LNG and that we will continue to perform at the highest levels. We believe in Yemen and will be glad to increase the size of the facilities and deliver more LNG to the world.