Abu Dhabi energy firms ride a wave

Oil 2014: UAE energy companies are teaming up with oil and gas giants to form ventures, capitalise on investing opportunities and gain a larger presence in overseas energy markets.

BP's Harding platform in the North Sea. Taqa aims to increase its North Sea output by 50 per cent. Ho New / Reuters
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UAE energy companies are teaming up with oil and gas giants to form ventures, capitalise on investing opportunities and gain a larger presence in overseas energy markets.

Shell, for example, in April was chosen by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) to participate in a 30-year joint venture to develop the major Bab sour gas reservoirs in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Shell will hold a 40 per cent interest, with Adnoc holding 60 per cent.

The Bab sour gas reservoirs are 150km south-west of Abu Dhabi city.

"Shell is honoured to have been selected by Adnoc to develop the Bab sour gas reservoirs," says Peter Voser, the chief executive of Shell.

"We have more than 60 years' experience of safe and successful sour gasfield development globally and we will apply this experience, along with our leading research and development, and technology expertise, to the development of the Bab resource."

The gas is expected to supply the local market in the UAE.

"We value our long and successful partnership with Adnoc, and look forward to continuing to play a role in helping the United Arab Emirates meet its energy needs," Mr Voser says.

Shell plans to work closely with Adnoc to enhance the technical expertise of its workforce through effective knowledge transfer.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, known as Taqa, completed the acquisition of UK North Sea oil and gas assets from the oil giant BP on June 1.

Taqa purchased stakes in three fields in UK waters from BP for $1bn in November.

The price does not include future payments dependent on oil prices and production. BP expects this to reach about US$250 million in additional payments in the future.

The move is expected to add 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day to Taqa's North Sea production, a 50 per cent increase. This nearly doubles the company's reserves in the region.

"We are delighted [with] this acquisition, which extends the average life of our UK reserves and opens up a bright future for our North Sea business," says Carl Sheldon, the chief executive at Taqa.

"This investment is a great strategic fit for Taqa."

Taqa now has interests in the Harding, Morrone and Maclure fields. The transaction has also increased Taqa's interests in the Brae area, the Sage gas pipeline and Forties-Brae and Forties-Braemar oil pipelines.

The sale has value for BP as well, particularly as it scales back its balance sheet in preparation next year to face a trial over civil fines in the United States relating to the Macondo oil well blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

"This transaction is in line with BP's strategy to focus on a smaller number of higher-value assets with long-term growth potential," says Bob Dudley, the chief executive of the British energy giant.

"It will also continue the simplification of our portfolio with a further reduction of operated infrastructure and wells."

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Shell has reportedly been in negotiations with Saudi Arabian officials for a natural gas project in the Kidan field of the Rub Al Khali desert.

Shell is the lead operator of the Majnoon oilfield in Iraq, with a 45 per cent interest. Malaysia's Petronas holds a 30 per cent share, with the Iraqi government holding the remaining interest.

Majnoon, one of Iraq's largest oilfields, could potentially reach production of 175,000 barrels per day by the end of this year.

Shell also embarked on a $17 billion joint venture with Mitsubishi and Iraq's South Gas Company in May. The venture is capturing about 400 cubic feet of associated gas per day, with the potential of 2 billion cubic feet per day, according to a Shell press release.

Shell has a 44 per cent interest, with Mitsubishi taking a 5 per cent interest and South Gas having a 51 per cent interest.