Musabbeh Al Kaabi
CEO for Petroleum & Petrochemicals, Mubadala Investment Company

On the global energy scene, oil, gas, and petrochemicals still play a prominent role, even as sustainability concerns become steadily more and more urgent. Investors are pressing for greater efficiency, reduced emissions, and heightened attention to financial discipline, as well as long-term viability. An important player in the energy industry of the Middle East region is the Abu Dhabi State Investment Company, Mubadala Investment. 

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Musabbeh Al Kaabi, Mubadala Investment’s Chief Executive Officer for Petroleum & Petrochemicals. Musabbeh Al Kaabi is responsible for a portfolio of more than $40 billion in assets spanning the global oil and gas value chain of the Mubadala Investment Company. Previously he headed Mubadala Petroleum as its CEO -- the company’s wholly-owned exploration and production company, at a time of declining commodity prices. He also spent a number of years with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) -- eventually managing its exploration division. He is a frequent and highly-respected commentator in the world of international energy investing. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geophysical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines and a Master of Sciences in Petroleum Geoscience from Imperial College, London.

Jason sat down with Musabbeh on the sidelines of ADIPEC -- the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, one of the largest energy conferences in the world -- in November. They discussed how Mubadala Investment Company’s investments in the energy sector are playing out, the role of natural gas in the context of the energy transition, how the Middle East will meet its energy demand, the forecast for petrochemicals given sustainability concerns, and much more.

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Jason Bordoff:  Hello and welcome to Columbia Energy Exchange, a weekly podcast from the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.  I’m Jason Bordoff.  On the global energy scene, oil, gas and petrochemicals still play a prominent role.  Even as sustainability concerns becomes steadily more and more urgent.  Investors are pressing for greater efficiency, reduced emissions and heightened attention to financial discipline as well as long-term viability.  An important player in the energy industry of the Middle East Region is the Abu Dhabi State Investment Company Mubadala Investment and our guest today is the company’s CEO for petroleum and petrochemicals Musabbeh Al Kaabi, Musabbeh Al Kaabi is responsible for a portfolio of more than 40 billion dollars and assets spanning the global oil and gas value chain of the Mubadala Investment Company.  Previously, he added Mubadala Petroleum as its CEO, the company is wholly on exploration and production company at the time of declining commodity prices.  He also spent a number of years with ADNOC the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company eventually managing its exploration division.  He is a frequent and highly respected commentator in the world of international energy investing.  He holds a bachelor of science degree in geophysical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and a master of science in Petroleum Geoscience from Imperial College, London.  I had the chance to sit down with Musabbeh on the sidelines of ADIPEC one of the largest energy conferences in the world in Abu Dhabi this past month in November.  Musabbeh Al Kaabi thanks for joining us on Columbia Energy Exchange.

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  You’re welcome.  Thank you.

Jason Bordoff:  So, let’s start just by explaining if you could for our listeners who -- who may not be exactly familiar with it how a sovereign wealth fund like Mubadala operates, what role it plays in the energy value chain and how it thinks about its investment portfolio?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  We Mubadala Investment Company is a sovereign wealth fund based here in Abu Dhabi owned by the government of Abu Dhabi.  We have an asset under management of 229 billion dollars.  We are active in 15 different sectors including oil and gas, but we’re also active in the technology space, in the mining, in the industry, aero space, for emission technology.  In the energy space, we have -- a portfolio slightly 40 billion dollars.  We’re active in the full value chain upstream, midstream, and downstream.  And you know, the way we look at the energy it is -- it’s you know, we have a history of you know, developing our own resources here in Abu Dhabi, but also certain capabilities and you know, a vision of the future.  So -- and the -- as an institution we believe in a future where all sources of energy will be required including of course the new oil energy.  And we are as -- adopting and changing our strategy to ensure that we remain resilient, we remain you know, profitable and our certain commodity prices.  And we just as I mentioned accordingly our activities based on our deep understanding of the sector.

Jason Bordoff:  So, just tell -- say a little bit more about how the investments in the energy sector play, you the CEO petroleum and petrochemicals, what role does that play with the new overall portfolio and then how do the investments that Mubadala Petroleum and Petrochemicals relate to other things like Masdar and what it’s doing in renewable investments?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah.  The energy portfolio for Mubadala is as I mentioned extensive and include the full value chain.  And so we are active in the upstream, midstream, downstream and then if you extend it we’re also have an exposure in the renewable energy and utilities.  So when it comes to the energy and in particular petroleum and petrochemicals we have you know, designed our investments to ensure that we generate sustainable and attractive financial returns to the owner.  And to ensure that we remain profitable for the foreseeable future.  Part of our mandate also is to ensure that we have access to certain operational and technology capabilities.  So we’re very proud that two of our investee companies have their own technology capabilities and one of them at least have deployed these capabilities to build the petrochemical industry here in Abu Dhabi in partnership with the National Oil Company.  And so -- and we continue to explore further collaboration with the National Oil Company to ensure that we position Abu Dhabi as one of the leading petrochemical players globally.  So, we’re happy about this partnership, we’re happy about also the capabilities we bring.  So that’s one angle of it.

The other angle as you mentioned the renewable energy and the renewable energy, Mubadala was one of the first few players globally, but specifically regionally here to embrace a potential disruption in the energy space.  So we incubated Masdar the renewable energy company that is 100% owned by Mubadala back in 2006 when people were questioning why a big producer or a oil producer country like Abu Dhabi would expand and invest in renewable energy, they don’t need to do it, but that’s what Abu Dhabi is all about, that’s what you know, Mubadala is all about it’s trying to be progressive and try to identify these opportunities and play on the trend of the you know, potential you know, transition in the energy.

Jason Bordoff:  And how have you seen the investments in renewables play out I mean a lot of the majors and others are moving into the space even the investment firms in New York and elsewhere having some trouble making money in the space?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Indeed that’s correct, but let me highlight few things with the renewable energy portfolio here in Abu Dhabi, so Masdar as I mentioned started back in 2006.  We have built many renewable energy projects globally including Europe, some part of Asia as well and Pacific Island, but more importantly here in the region.  So, we’re very proud that the company managed to break the World Record in electricity generation or you know, or cents kilowatt hour twice.  So we’re comfortably are comfortable to you know, bid on projects below two cents kilowatt hour and that’s remarkable I would say improvement in the renewable energy -- if you take just in the last I would say six or seven years.  The renewable energy solar in particular here in the Middle East is becoming more competitive when you compare to the conventional type of energy sources.  So overall yes it’s highly competitive to develop a certain capabilities and developing these projects and execute them and I think there are around to generate and accepted for investors.

Jason Bordoff:  And how to see Mubadala’s role related to say ADNOC the National Oil Company for investment in upstream.  So -- and I’m curious also what you thought of you know, Norway recently has said it’s going to reduce its exposure in the sovereign wealth fund and the rationale they gave was -- we’re over exposed because -- we see the impact of the changes in the oil price in terms of our national revenue and then we don’t also want the sovereign wealth fund to be over exposed.  So we’re going to reduce our investment in upstream companies.  You’re -- Mubadala as a sovereign wealth fund strategic investment fund with major active energy investment, so you see it differently I presume?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah.  The way we see it it’s I would say we embraced a strategy that was developed I would say a year ago almost both the merger between Mubadala Development Company and the International Petroleum Investment Company.  So becoming the owner decided to merge the two entities back in 2017, so the new merged entity you know, has a significant portfolio.  So let me highlight our strategy in the upstream.  We decided that because of the energy transition we see in the foreseeable future we would like to remain profitable and resilient to different commodity prices and that’s why we shifted our portfolio to focus more on natural gas.  So the upstream arm of Mubadala is developing a major gas discovery in Malaysia.  We also successfully bid on the largest gas and condensate a project in Thailand -- with the local partner PTT and we acquired 10% stake in the largest gas field in East Mediterranean lower field or still construction in Asia.

So our portfolio or our upstream portfolio is slowly and gradually moving more into our gas portfolio.  When it comes to oil, I don’t see ourselves bidding for the high cost oil, so these expensive you know, the resources that we require maybe -- or we require the expensive -- extensive _____ [00:10:03] I don’t see ourselves you know pursuing these opportunity.  Again -- it’s very simple criteria we need if we going to do any oil investment it’s going to be in the low cost resources with low breakeven you know, economics.

Jason Bordoff:  And you’re making these gas investments globally and then and then at home the UAE has plans to becoming that gas exporter?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yes.  Indeed I think what the ADNOC or the National Oil Company here in Abu Dhabi done is remarkable.  I think they recently announced a massive upgrade of their reserve base so that’s an excellent move and I think it’s a matter of time we will see more natural gas development here in the -- in the UAE.  But remember as we speak the UAE is the net home importer of gas through you know, LNG facilities in Dubai and our -- the Dolphin Pipeline -- 

Jason Bordoff:  Dolphin Pipeline.

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  We look at these trends, we understand the future demand in the country and we’re trying to position and help to diversify the energy sources, but in the mean time the resources are increasing and that is good for the -- for the country.  We made recently an announcement in a LNG developer -- in the U.S. so we made an investment and we’re going to work with that company -- 

Jason Bordoff:  This was next decade?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Next decade, we’re going to explore if there’s any angle to bring or U.S. LNG.

Jason Bordoff:  Are you planning additional investments in the U.S.?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Just we have made a substantial investment already in the U.S.

Jason Bordoff:  In LNG -- 

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  In the LNG, I think we’re -- we’re monitoring the situation.  I think next decade is the first step and we’re going to monitor the -- the dynamics in the LNG because as we speak the LNG market is slightly over saturated or over supplied, and -- but in the long-term we believe in the fundamentals of the natural gas growth and correctly speaking a healthy growth driven primarily by Asia.  So it is interesting what’s happening in the U.S. because you know the -- we think potentially the U.S. would become the price setter for the LNG in the future the reason because they have a massive gas production that need to be evacuated and the one possible and practical way to evacuate that associate gas -- 

Jason Bordoff:  Instead of wasting and now it’s just flaring too way much of it.

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yes.  One potential way is to expand more in the LNG liquification facilities and potentially export it to regions like Europe and Asia.  So what’s interesting what’s happening and thanks to the Shale Revolution I guess it’s -- it’s interesting to see the U.S. in a matter of time horizon of 10 years move from a -- major importer to a major exporter in the LNG.

Jason Bordoff:  Yeah.  It’s a standing turn around I was just saying in my _____ [00:13:11] remarks today here at ADIPEC the -- if you go back to 2005 the U.S. Government Department of Energy projected that this year we’d be importing 20 billion cubic feet a day -- 

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yes.

Jason Bordoff:  of natural gas and now we’re a large net gas exporter.  So you think U.S. LNG exports will be competitive in the -- in the global market as you said that there is a lot LNG supply coming into the market. 

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  I mean if you -- if you look at the numbers sometimes numbers don’t lie, you plug in the numbers it looks like it’s highly competitive and it’s definitely going to find its way to compete with other potential future LNG projects.  We see projects in  _____ [00:13:49] for example and will require a massive investment that’s going to be extremely difficult to compete with the U.S. LNG -- 

Jason Bordoff:  And -- and you said you know, you said this gas is a major focus for investment for Mubadala, there’s a big debate as you know that sort of the role of gas in the long-term in -- in the context of dealing with climate change in the energy transition.  We’ve seen gas demand grow as countries have moved away from coal say China try to address air pollution.  But if you take targets like anything close to two degree Celsius warming seriously at some point you start to you know, remove you’ll see gas demand gets squeezed as well.  How do you think about the role of gas in this energy transition and what it means for investments today that take decades to pay themselves back?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  They I think when we look as a situation to the energy outlook going forward we have developed this few of the world and of course we keep updating ourselves almost on a yearly basis with what’s -- how the energy myth will look like in the year 2030 or 2040.  Our deep understanding of the dynamics in the natural gas is I totally enjoy relatively speaking a good growth of around 1.7% and that will continue up to 2035. 

Jason Bordoff:  Global gas demand?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Global gas demand, so that’s -- 

Jason Bordoff:  It was much stronger last year you know, last year was a -- 

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah.  We keep revising these projection, but I think it’s an excellent transition fuel to ensure that we move from a high carbon high intensity or high carbon intensity economy into a low carbon intensity economy.  And that would be also great for climate change agenda because if you look at the U.S. for example the -- the U.S. current CO2 emission is at a levels of the late 80s I think and thanks to the -- to the switch from coal to natural gas.  So if we can expand that story in other countries in the world, I think that would a quick one for the climate change agenda and you know, it’s -- it’s a cleanest form of fossil fuel available in the market and also with the improvement in the efficiencies of the power generation for example and the other industrial activities I think there is a room that natural gas can play in this energy transition in the future.

Jason Bordoff:  Yeah, yeah.  It’s interesting and we can see that -- because you’re right natural gas was in our analysis the key driver of the reduction in CO2 in the U.S. coal to gas switching.  In the last year or two it’s actually been more renewables that have driven those declines and so the question is can you see something like that play out in the rest of the world.  And then the question is what happens after that, so that’s kind of the conversation that’s starting to happen more and more in the U.S.  Now which is at what point do you think about going beyond gas to fully zero carbon energy.  And I’ve seen some analysis recently suggesting that you know, cheap shale gas has helped this place coal and lower emission, but somewhere around the middle of the next decade if all of you are concerned about was lowering emissions you’d actually want gas to be more expensive rather than less because there is a certain point which it starts to squeeze renewables nuclear more than it squeezes coal and that conversation starting to happen.  So, you’re right there -- there is still many other parts of the world that aren’t yet, but that’s sort of the longer term question that I think is -- 

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  I -- I agree Jason, but going forward also we need to monitor two things the climate change agenda is becoming politically very sensitive globally.  So, I am sure that there would be more government policies that will encourage the other or cleaner form of energies in the energy mix and trying to put more pressure on the -- on the conventional energy sources.  The other one is a technology.  It’s amazing how that technology and efficiency is -- is progressing.  And as I mentioned earlier when we started Masdar back in 2006 the renewable energy was totally uncomparative comparing to the conventional sources you know -- 

Jason Bordoff:  And it’s fallen in cost dramatically -- 

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah, 15 or 16 years forward it is the preferred source of energy in the region now.  All the governments in the region are exploring ways to put more and more of renewable in their energy mix.  In fact U.A.E. adopted a strategy of 2050 so 50:50 50% of the energy by 2050 should come from clean sources.  So that’s a very aggressive target and reflect the deep confection and understanding that their renewable energy and the cleaner form of energy should contribute more and more to the energy mix -- 

Jason Bordoff:  And you see that regular energy demands raising rapidly in this region in the Middle East and so the role of renewables relative to say the role of natural gas.  We have a paper coming out at the energy center shortly by my colleague Robin Mills about the outlook for gas demand in the Middle East.  So, what’s your view of how this region is going to meet it’s growing energy demand?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  You know, also the -- the region is you know, as there is a story of Shale Revolution in the -- in the U.S. and in -- in North America in general there is also an evolving story in the region.  The region if you think about it five years back with the exception of two countries there were poor and natural gas, I would say importer or they don’t have enough natural gas to run their power generation.  Nowadays countries including publically Saudi Aramco announced this and Abu Dhabi are becoming potentially an exporter of natural gas or LNG.  In the near future Oman on the other hand the region it’s remarkable what a tight gas you know, development and production reshaped the landscape in that country, so that country is currently almost self-sufficient and looking for you know, export avenues for natural gas.  So, I think the technology is also you know, helping us to unlock, untapped challenging resources in the region.

Jason Bordoff:  What are the countries in the region that’s seeing a look rapid change -- in it’s gas as Egypt where you’re investing in Zohr.  Is it going to -- what’s the outlook for Egypt as a gas producer and is that going to go to the domestic market or export it as LNG?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah.  Well, that’s a very interesting question.  Jason, we’re yes we’re an investor in Egypt and that’s also a remarkable story.  If you look at Egypt four years ago, there were an importer of LNG.  They’re importing LNG costing them billions and billions of dollars each year where the major gas deficit.  The success of the HUR and followed by few other successors put the country in the right trajectory to potentially become again an exporter.  So, as we speak they have two man operational LNG facilities and they have a pipeline that disconnect them with some regional countries including Jordan.  So, I think it’s a matter of time we will see Egypt exporting to Jordan and potentially exporting LNG from their LNG facilities.

Another story in the East Mediterranean is that we have big discoveries in the East Mediterranean and the big question can we amalgamate these you know, resources and put them to Egypt and from Egypt to export LNG to maybe Europe and elsewhere that’s an evolving story and we will -- we will see if that hopefully the politics will allow it, but it’s -- it’s a great opportunity for Egypt and for the East Mediterranean.

Jason Bordoff:  So you’re the CEO of Mubadala Petroleum and Petrochemicals when I ask you about the last part of -- of that petrochemicals that are considered.  One of the most resilient parts of the oil demand mix you know, questions about when oil demand will peak and will gasoline demand decline as electric vehicles penetrate, but everyone is pretty bullish on the outlook for oil demand for petrochemicals.  Do you think the recent backlash in plastics pollution, single use plastic, do you see things on horizon in terms of that sort of environmental sensibility that makes that more uncertain in your view?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  I think for the petrochemicals you know, historically the petrochemicals grew at a rate of one percent above global GDP.  Going forward we see that the demand is strong, the you know, the disruption in the -- the technology disruption in other you know, sectors not only in the energy also you know, increasing demand for like material.  So, we think there is a potential increase in the demand beyond our current expectation that’s one -- one issue.  But as you mentioned there is _____ [00:23:06] and the last thing I would like to see in the petrochemical is to be in the position of the upstream in a defensive mode about you know, the upstream now in the defensive mode about climate change issue.  So around I -- I wish I don’t see the petrochemicals in the same position when it comes to the plastic waste and the sustainability agenda.  So as Mubadala we take this issue very seriously.  We are very committed to the circular economy.  So one of our investee company’s Borealis is very active in plastic recycling these are also active and we are also -- 

Jason Bordoff:  Another of your investee?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yes.  And also on the raising the awareness.  We are funding a program a big program called Stop Ocean Waste or plastic waste with two objectives one -- is to improve and raise the awareness about plastic waste.  And the other one is to ensure that or to collect this waste and we picked Indonesia as one of the sites and I think the -- 

Jason Bordoff:  But if you’re successful in that effort and there’s increased awareness of it and more recycling with single use plastic, more material efficiency, does that make a big dent in pet can demand growth?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  If -- so I think if we manage because when you look at the two issues the climate change, there is a little we do about it beside the fact that we consumed as energy.  But in the plastic waste, if I improve the human behavior, I potentially can eradicate this issue.  And that’s what we’re trying to do.  With this program raising the awareness I think there is a good chance that the industry in petrochemicals my three capture the narrative and proof to the word that yes we’re responsible producers and we’re doing a lot to eliminate, eradicate, and potentially minimize this plastic waste issue.  It’s all about human behavior if we improve it significantly I think we will be able to -- to put the right narrative around this issue.

Jason Bordoff:  We -- we had a really interesting panel that you spoke on that I moderated here about how digital innovation is changing the energy sector.  I know that’s something you’ve looked carefully at Mubadala has some pretty interesting investments that relate to that, so how do you see digital innovation affecting the oil and gas sector on the supply side, but potentially also on the demand side as well driving a faster energy transition leading to more efficient use of energy and producing demand?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah.  There are two ways to look at the technology. Let me start with -- I’ll come to the energy space, but let me talk about Mubadala.  At Mubadala we have you know, a strong belief that technology will reshape, the society will reshape, the economies will reshape the future of course.  And that’s why we -- we decided to be part of this transition.  We have big exposure to the -- to the technology space.  We have an office _____ [00:26:18] capital office in San Francisco that is funding and you know, investing in startup companies.

So it is interesting what’s happening in the technology space.  So let me go to the energy space.  In the energy when you talk about disruption, disruption happens at two fronts one in the supply side and one potentially in the demand side.  So in the supply side, the technology of fracking enabled us to significantly improve the supply side.  The latest technologies when it comes to the EOR the automation -- 

Jason Bordoff:  Enhanced Oil Recovery?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Enhanced Oil Recovery.  When it comes also to the automation the artificial intelligence you know, running all these sub service models to be able to take a decision at a quick base comparing to the that will enable us to unlock more and more supplies.

Jason Bordoff:  Is that -- where is that going to have the biggest impact offshore, onshore upstream, downstream or everything? 

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  I think mostly in the mature fields.  You know, in the last 10 to 15 years the big thing that happened to our industry was the unconventional.  So going forward I think it would -- there would be and maybe a promising technology that will unlock additional resources coming from matured fields.  So that’s in the supply side.  The -- I think more supplies will come as a result of technology, improvement and deficiencies in the -- in the operation.  In the -- in the demand side, what we see is a potential disruption you know, from electrification of transportation sector.  We as Mubadala we are an investor in ridesharing companies.  So we talk with them, we see what future trends are you know, what trends are coming in the future.  And it looks like the application for autonomous driving artificial intelligence couple that with -- with electric -- 

Jason Bordoff:  Electrification?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  with electric vehicles.  It’s going to have I would say a significant impact on the future of oil demand.  And under certain scenarios by 2040 we could see a significant drop in the oil demand as a result of these you know, technology and electrification happening in the -- 

Jason Bordoff:  Do you think it can happen even much sooner than -- than 2040.  I mean some people think it could be in the next five or ten years that oil demands starts to -- 

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah.  I think we -- similar to the our industry appears we are in different models.  There are some very aggressive models driven by two key factors government policies and technology innovation.  So we see a potential of peak demand around 2030 to 2035.

Jason Bordoff:  And we talked about different low carbon technologies that that you see investment opportunities.  And we -- we just one of my other colleagues at Columbia Julio Freedman just did a major study on how we think about options to de carbonize heavy industry steel, cement, the harder two abate sectors.  How investable do you think things like hydrogen, carbon capture, direct air capture technology are today from your perspective at the moment?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Let me come to the current existent you know, energy intensive operation we’re on.  So, if you come to the upstream to the downstream including petrochemicals and refineries, they are classified as energy intensive operations.  So I think as a quick one for the industry we should focus on how to run our operation with as much efficient as possible.  So some of our investee companies are investing a lot.  For example Borealis investing a lot in improving their efficiency and we have initiated recently something called cracker of the future.  The concept is very similar.  You, you know, produce petrochemical product with the minimum energy required and minimum emission required produced.

In the future I think there is a potential that we will see autonomous or full automation in the operation and that should also improve the efficiency.  Now talking about the future, hydrogenous -- I think there is a potential for hydrogen to play a -- a bigger role in the future energy mix, but the technology currently is still slightly lacking, but I’m optimistic that many countries are fore fronting this you know, investment the likes of Japan, China including I think there was cost of the U.S.  So we’re monitoring that space and as an investment institution and looking if we can fit -- if it can our strategic and investment criteria.  But yes I think I see hydrogen as a potential you know, additional source that would help also eradicating this climate change issue in the future.

Jason Bordoff:  You’ve talked about some of the technologies that you see the most investment opportunity and -- and you’re investing really in so many parts of the world Russia, The U.S., Southeast Asia, what regions are you most kind of excited about.  And then also talk about how you managed the -- the tension between what the best economic opportunities look like and how you layer geopolitical risk evaluation on to that and what you -- what the perspective of a large institutional investor like Mubadala is in -- in managing this complex geopolitical landscape?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah.  Well, when it comes to you know, we invest globally in general, but our exposure for example in North America in particular in the U.S. is by far is a biggest exposure.  So we have a strong belief that the landscape in the U.S., the regulatory system, the risk profile of investing in that part of the world.  We fully understand it, we have -- 

Jason Bordoff:  You can explain it to us -- 

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  We have -- we have been there for a very long time.  So from that angle we’re comfortable.  And I don’t see ourselves self-changing that narrative about our investment in that part of the world.

Jason Bordoff:  Do you see -- do you see that rising I’m curious -- I mean I’ve written about how you know, geopolitical risk, policy uncertainty, whether it’s candidate who want to ban fracking or the U.S. using sanction policy more -- more frequently is -- is the level of risk involved within U.S. investment -- 

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  I think in general we’re a dynamic organization.  So we’re just accordingly.  So if for example there is a strong sentiment against energy just for example in the -- in the U.S., you know, we can adjust accordingly and try to adopt with a new reality and their -- but I think if you’re an investor you cannot ignore that part of the world.  I think that each part -- each region in the world would have its own pros and cons it’s own risk profile and we just need to align ourselves with the and fully understand the risk associated with these investments and trying to put the right myth against in case these risk materialize. We’re agnostic you know, when it comes to which part of the world, but as I mentioned I think we have a heavy exposure in a stable market like the U.S.  We explore continue exploring opportunities in Asia.  You know, Asia is you know, all the growth and the energy and the technology and the -- and  many sectors that we operate in comes in from Asia.  So you cannot also ignore that part of the world.  So we’re active east and west and we’re -- we’re you know, adopting accordingly as the you know, the sign post we see ahead of us.

Jason Bordoff:  And obviously people look at this -- some people look at this region of the world reposition of sanctions against Iran the -- the recent actions Iran has taken to ry to respond to that including physical attacks.  What -- what’s your outlook for this region and -- and how concerned should people be that things could escalate?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Well, let me say Jason I was born in the 70s and I don’t recall one probable year where the -- where the region was stable.  So it’s unfortunate that this -- there are all geopolitical risk associated with this region.  You know, but let me highlight what the U.A.E. is all about.  So U.A.E. would believe in a future where you know, we need to promote key values, tolerance, woman empowerment, economic diversification.  We started this journey a long time ago, so this is the key values that we see the region should embrace and look forth.  And I hope that you know, our friends and our you know, regional countries help us to promote these values.  I remain optimistic about the region, the region has the right resources, create human potential, human capital potential and you know, a great model like you know, the U.A.E. economic development.  And so if we put our efforts and our you know, mind in the right place, I think the potential is a huge for the region. 

Jason Bordoff:  I’m struck by how much more prevalent I -- I think the view is in the region not just the U.A.E. but throughout the whole region that that the U.S. may not be able to relied on -- upon anymore the coda doctrine of the U.S. with military force if necessary, but protects its interest in the region.  The -- but none it’s not part of something, I think it started with President Obama and has continued under President Trump and the lack of any kind of response to the recent attacks in Abqaiq and Khurais sort of fed that.  Is that a perception you think is more widespread now that that maybe people can’t rely on the U.S. as much?

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Yeah.  I think we need to also to understand the reasons behind it.  So historically one of the key pillars of the U.S. foreign policies in the Middle East was a security of energy supplies. So with the Share Revolution in the U.S. and conventional revolution in the U.S. that concept is being challenged maybe as a result of the U.S. becoming almost self-dependent or self-sufficient and its energy sources.  But the region regardless the region remains strategically very important for the global economy.  So if a major disruption happens in this part of the world, definitely the U.S. trade partners like Japan, Korea, you know, East Asia in general would be significantly impacted.  So I don’t see a case where you know, the geopolitical importance of the region is not there anymore.  If it’s not impacting the U.S. definitely it’s impacting many countries around the world.  So I think we have a collective responsibility to ensure the stability and the security of this region.

Jason Bordoff:  Musabbeh Al Kaabi, thank you for making time with us.  The ADIPEC is a zoo you’re running all day long from early until late it’s late in the evening here.  And you’ve been going since early in the morning.  So I know how tired you must be and how busy you are.  I’m very grateful to you for making the time to talk with us here on Columbia Energy Exchange.

Musabbeh Al Kaabi:  Thank you Jason.  And I’m really glad to see you and your colleagues here in Abu Dhabi. I’m looking forward to see you in the future.

Jason Bordoff: Thanks to all of you for listening.  For more information about the Columbia Energy Exchange and the Center on the Global Energy Policy, follow us online at and on social media at columbiauenergy.  I’m Jason Bordoff, thanks for listening.  We’ll see you next week.