Abu Dhabi National Oil Company has awarded a 40 per cent stake in the Ruwais Diyab gas concession to French energy major Total.
The agreement with Total will include a six to seven-year exploration and appraisal phase, followed by a 40-year production term, Adnoc said yesterday. It did not disclose the value of the deal.
Earlier this month, Adnoc announced the discovery of up to 15 trillion cubic feet of gas, an addition of 7.1 per cent to existing reserves. Adnoc plans to add 1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas before the end of the next decade, as it seeks gas self-sufficiency.
Abu Dhabi’s new discoveries have the capacity to transform the emirate to a net gas exporter, with ambitions to boost liquefied natural gas capabilities over the next decade. Adnoc is also offering six oil and gas blocks in its first licensing round, launched in April.
Adnoc group chief executive Dr Sultan Al Jaber said there was significant interest from other oil and gas firms in exploring unconventional reserves in the country.
"We have received significant interest from other potential partners wanting to join other unconventional oil and gas concession areas that we are considering," he said. "Discussions are progressing with these multiple interested parties, and we will make further announcements in due course."
The UAE consumes around 2.6 trillion cubic feet of gas, which exceeds its current production level of around 2.1 tcf annually, according to the latest BP Statistical Review of Energy. Much of the UAE's gas is trapped in unconventional, sulphurous caps, also known as sour gas. Adnoc has the intention to deploy hydraulic fracturing, a technology used by North American shale oil and gas companies to unlock these deposits.
"Hydraulic fracturing [will] allow us to create higher value from what is a more challenging resource compared to the giant conventional oil and gas fields of Abu Dhabi," said Dr Al Jaber.
Total is expected to bring its expertise in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to help Adnoc further develop its gas caps.
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The agreement with Total follows award of interests offshore Abu Dhabi earlier this year. The Abu Dhabi energy major awarded 20 per cent interests in the offshore fields of Umm Shaif and Nasr as well as a 5 per cent stake in the Lower Zakum concession to Total.
The French company had paid $1.45 billion (Dh5.33bn) for its twin stakes, joining the likes of Eni, Japan's Inpex as well as an Indian consortium led by ONGC Videsh in operating the concession for 40-year terms. Adnoc retained the majority 60 per cent interest. The company paid a participating fee of $1.15bn to enter Umm Shaif and Nasr as well as $300 million for Lower Zakum.
In an interview with The National in March, Mr Pouyanne expressed his interest in developing downstream capabilities in the UAE and abroad on the back of its increased upstream activity.
“They are [Adnoc] willing to expand in the downstream, and we are having discussions to see what we can achieve. It has to be a win-win for all companies,” he said in the interview.
Total is a partner on the $1.7bn petchems facility on the US Gulf Coast with Nova Chemicals and Borealis, two affliates of Abu Dhabi strategic firm Mubadala Investment Company. In the interview, Mr Pouyanne did not rule out further expansion of petchems capabilities abroad.
“The new ambition of Adnoc is to be more on the integrated model and we’ll study this not only in Abu Dhabi, but abroad as well,” he said at the time.