Taqa heading to England

Second quarter profits for the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, also called Taqa, double from a year earlier.

Peter Barker-Homek, the chief executive of Taqa, plans to hire at least 400 people in England.
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Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, also called Taqa, plans to invest £750 million (Dh5.36 billion) over three years to establish an operating base in England and to boost production from its North Sea oil and gas operations by 50 per cent. Peter Barker-Homek, the chief executive, said he planned to hire between 400 and 600 staff in England in the next year and to invest £250m a year in Taqa's UK operations in each of the next three years. He said the company aims to raise its North Sea production to 60,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day (boed) from 40,000 boed. By 2012, Taqa hoped to double its global oil and gas production to about 250,000 boed, from roughly two billion boed of proved and probable reserves, Mr Barker-Homek added. The company produced an average of 119,000 boed during its second quarter, ended June 30. Last month, Taqa concluded a major deal to acquire stakes in North Sea oil and gas fields from Royal Dutch Shell, the Anglo-Dutch energy group, and Exxon Mobil, the US oil company. Yesterday Taqa said its second quarter net profit more than doubled to Dh471 million (US$128.2m) from Dh186m a year earlier, as it benefited from acquisitions and higher oil and gas prices. Revenue for the period also surged, reaching Dh4.56bn compared with Dh1.79bn for the comparable period last year. "The results show the significant change in the nature of our business compared to just 12 months ago," Mr Barker-Homek said. "While our domestic power generation and water desalination assets have continued to deliver solid performance, we are now seeing the full impact of the acquisition made in the past year." Taqa, which was 75 per cent owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, had been on a drive to increase its assets to $60bn by the end of 2012. However, Mr Barker-Homek indicated yesterday that the company could extend its timeline for the proposed acquisitions. "In 2012, we expect to be at between $40bn and $60bn in assets," he said. Since the end of last year, Taqa has made about $5bn of purchases, bringing the value of its portfolio to $23.4bn at the end of June. Following major deals to acquire oil and gas-producing assets in Canada and Europe and a dramatic surge in energy prices, Taqa's second quarter revenue from oil and gas activities ballooned to Dh2.29bn from just Dh77.2m a year earlier. Oil prices have risen 64 per cent in the past year. They peaked at a record $147.27 a barrel on July 11 before retreating to around $120 a barrel in recent weeks. Mr Barker-Homek said he saw oil demand firming and prices rising to between $140 and $180 a barrel if China, India and the Middle East continued to show strong economic growth, allowing rising oil demand in those markets to offset the effect of demand destruction in North America and Europe. However, if large Asian economies slow, then oil prices are more likely to be in the $80 to $120 a barrel range for the next few years, he predicted. "The worst-case scenario would be if growth in these economies stopped. Then we would have the oil price going very low and a cascade effect into the service sector in what most economists would describe as a disaster scenario," Mr Barker-Homek said. In the case of falling oil prices, he said he would cut capital spending on Taqa's oil and gas producing operations, possibly drastically. He predicted that continued strong earnings from power generation and gas processing, storage and transportation operations would sustain the company in such circumstances. @Email:tcarlisle@thenational.ae