Present in Qatar since 1936, Total, the broad energy company, transformed into TotalEnergies earlier this year, reaffirming its sustainability trajectory. This decision was aimed to support its strategy of net-zero emissions across its global operations by 2050 together with society, including in its downstream activities. In July this year, TotalEnergies appointed Ghazi Shahin as Managing Director of the Refining and Chemicals (R&C) branch within the Company’s Qatar affiliate.
In his capacity, Shahin oversees operations in the downstream sector in Qatar; particularly TotalEnergies’ stakes at QAPCO, Qatofin, RLOC, and Laffan Refineries, who are some of their biggest stakeholders. In an interview with Qatar Tribune’s Satyendra Pathak, he spoke on various issues concerning the company’s downstream priorities in Qatar and initiatives to reinvent and diversify its energy offering to promote renewable and decarbonized energies in the country. Excerpts:
On refining and petrochemicals operations, and its recycling ambitions cTypeface:>
Our branch is involved in the transformation of crude oil and natural gas into finished products or intermediates, and we provide customers with a broad array of petroleum products, base chemicals and polymers for a variety of industrial and commercial applications. As the world and the industry is changing, we are also transforming and our aim is to be the responsible energy provider, and industrial player. TotalEnergies has the ambition of producing 30% recycled and renewable polymers by 2030.
At Corporate level, we currently work on all types of recycling – both mechanical and chemical. We are implementing the use of digital technologies to improve refinery performance and move toward sustainability in our industry, through partnerships such as Tata Consultancy Services. In France, we are doubling our mechanical recycling production capacity for recycled polymers, through Synova, a leader in manufacturing high-performance recycled polypropylene derived from industrial waste plastics, thus positioning us to meet our customers’ growing demand for more efficient and environmentally friendly polymers, all the while providing concrete answers to the challenge of managing end-of-life plastics
TotalEnergies is also a world leader in bioplastics. In 2020, we constructed the first chemical recycling plant in France (in Grandputs zero-crude platform), where we transform plastic waste that is not generally easily recyclable, and use it as feedstock in TotalEnergies’ steam crackers to produce polymers. In addition, as a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, we have pledged to allocate more than $1 billion, with a goal of reaching $1.5 billion by 2025, to the implementation of solutions to eliminate plastic waste in the environment, particularly in the oceans.
TotalEnergies uses renewable bio-sourced and recycled feedstocks and supports initiatives that aim to reduce its carbon footprint, in line with its commitment to better energy. We have transformed some of our historical refineries in France, such as La Mède biorefinery, to produce 500,000 tonnes of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), a premium biofuel; and to produce both biodiesel and biojet fuel for the aviation industry. We are working to develop second-generation, or advanced, biofuels, which will supplement, rather than replace, first-generation biofuels in helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The sustainability of the oils processed will lead to a reduction in carbon emissions of at least 50% compared to fossil-derived fuels.
We are also currently examining different biomass conversion pathways, such as thermochemical, biotechnology and algae, and working in R&D partnerships with manufacturers, start-ups, universities and private laboratories in various affiliates worldwide.
Our transformational strategy is therefore in partnership with our stakeholders and our communities. Within the TotalEnergies R&C Qatar affiliate, we are involved in clean energy research and initiatives such as our Joint Venture’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) sustainability programme, CO2 reduction roadmap, and we are constantly developing new and innovative solutions to reduce carbon footprint. We conduct research in TotalEnergies Research Center (TRC-Q) in QSTP for the use of carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS). We are also actively involved with Qatar’s National Priorities Research Program (NPRP), partnering with local universities such as Qatar University and Texas A&M University Qatar to conduct research on environmental issues under this programme.
On TotalEnergies’ downstream activities and priorities in Qatar :
We are a partner of choice in Qatar. We have five joint ventures (JVs) in the downstream industry– QAPCO, Qatofin, RLOC and Laffan Refinery 1 & 2 with different levels of partnerships for each.
Our interactions with the JVs are to ensure operational excellence, and that entails safety first and foremost. We need to be safe operators and protect people who are out there. Our motto is that everybody goes home safe to their families, and to their loved ones.
We also put a lot of focus on process safety to make sure that all the hydrocarbons stay where they belong, and they do not escape the equipment – and this is important as it also affects our employees and our community where we operate. On the other hand, we have the environmental aspect : ensuring little to no unauthorized emissions.
Operational excellence also means that we operate reliably and make products available to our customers and societies. As a partner in the joint ventures, it is our strategy to provide affordable and clean energy to the community, and to be integrated with all the development. We need to continue to look for niche products, anything that can improve our operations as continuous improvement is critical for us.
On the affiliate’s societal highlights :
TotalEnergies R&C Qatar is committed to initiatives that will support the community and the society where we work in. Some of our highlights include our involvement in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where plastic manufactured from our plants in France and Belgium will be used to create the seats in all the stadiums that have been built in Qatar in preparation for the event.
Some of the polymers that we produce here are used to fight COVID-19; medical equipment like PPEs and clothing used by doctors and nurses in hospitals is made from our products. Some of our polymers are also used for making masks and syringes.
We are also involved in other social activities such as beach cleaning, health, and educational programmes from time to time. Qatar is a very important country for us, and as the responsible energy major, we will continue to work together with authorities for its development.