World Future Energy Summit: last chance to pitch for Abu Dhabi’s oldest oilfields

A concession that accounts for 1.5 million barrels per day, or half the emirate’s production, is due to be awarded later this year.

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The name of the conference is Future Energy, but for several companies it is also a final chance to make their pitch to maintain a stake in the past –by staying involved in the emirate’s oldest oilfields.

A concession that accounts for 1.5 million barrels per day, or half the emirate’s production, is due to be awarded later this year, and bidders from China to Norway will vie to display their hydrocarbon technology at the World Future Energy Summit that begins today in the capital.

The renewables-focused conference, which has expanded over seven years to include sister events spanning waste, water and green careers, is expected to draw 30,000 exhibitors, politicians and environmentalists to the emirate this week.

Among the biggest stands will be companies showcasing their expertise not only in solar and wind power, but also in connection with carbon capture, the experimental practice of burying greenhouse gases underground, often to maximise oil output.

“For Abu Dhabi this is very important because it’s a combination of addressing environmental issues and at the same time improving recovery in oil reservoirs,” said Arnaud Breuillac, the president of exploration and production for the French major Total. “You could make the case this is leaning towards environmental issues because you’re maximising recovery from existing fields.”

Total, which has a long-running carbon injection pilot running in the south of France, is one of four companies that have held stakes in Abu Dhabi’s main onshore concession since 1939 and are awaiting the outcome of an auction launched by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) in October.

The legacy partners are competing with a handful of newcomers ranging from technology specialists such as Norway’s Statoil and America’s Occidental Petroleum to Asian consumers like Korea National Oil and China National Petroleum.

The considerations in the concession, which will be awarded by Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Petroleum Council based on Adnoc’s recommendation, range from the refined technology offered by more experienced producers to the geopolitical advantages of aligning with major consumers in the East.

In a nod to China’s growing importance in the global energy scene – both as the world’s top oil importer as well as the global hub for the manufacture of solar panels and wind turbines – this week’s selection of environment conferences is to include for first time a China Day.

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark is scheduled to sign an agreement with his Abu Dhabi counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, to collaborate on clean energy developments today, paving the way for another bidder, Maersk, to offer its carbon capture technology to the emirate.

Other prominent visitors include Jeffrey Sachs, the Columbia University economist who has published widely on combating global poverty, and Maria van der Hoeven, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, the consumer nations’ watchdog.

For Total, which held its first international advisory board meeting in Abu Dhabi last week, not only oil is at stake – it hopes to also have a shot at a planned photovoltaic solar plant through its solar affiliate Sunpower.

“Abu Dhabi is a very important country in the world energy scene because of its reserves, because of its approach to developing oil and gas reserves and because they are setting high targets for recovery in the field,” Mr Breuillac said.

“This is making them particularly valuable for us as partners, and also they are very much involved in how to get new energy sources.”

ayee@thenational.ae