Aramco embarks on global hunt for natural gas supplies

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Its gas production stood at roughly 4. Global oil consumption contracted in both and , during the worst global recession in decades. As the economic crisis recedes, energy forecasters predict that oil demand will gradually recover, albeit more slowly than previously expected.

The International Energy Agency forecasts global oil demand of million bpd in , up 24 per cent from 85 million bpd in It means the new capacity should be needed and will not sit idle. The prospect of maintaining costly spare capacity was not something that troubled most oil exporters before During , however, OPEC spare capacity quadrupled to about 6 million bpd as oil demand slumped.

The UAE idled approximately 20 per cent of its oil production capacity in in response to the deep cuts to OPEC production targets. The initiatives were undertaken amid signs that oil demand in the developed world was threatened by economic stagnation, while new international agreements to curb carbon emissions seemed likely to limit growth in global oil demand. Facing an array of new challenges, the UAE has therefore adapted its oil policies to strike a balance between its national and international responsibilities.

At home it must focus on developing its hydrocarbon resources prudently, with the long-term aim of optimising revenue to fund economic diversification. At the same time, as a member of OPEC, the UAE has a responsibility to the world at large to contribute to secure and reliable oil supplies that meet global demand. Additionally, the nation recognises it must play a part in mitigating climate change by taking action to curb carbon emissions.

In the short-term, the UAE also faces a domestic gas crisis which is threatening the reliability of its electricity supply. Lower crude output means lower produced volumes of associated gas. Compounding the problem, Abu Dhabi, which was the first Gulf state to produce liquefied natural gas LNG , has long-term contractual commitments to export gas.

In the longer term, the UAE is pursuing plans to diversify its domestic energy supply to include nuclear and solar power, which should lessen the pressure on its gas supplies. Further gas development, however, will be essential if population growth and industrial expansion continue as forecast. First, the UAE is pressing ahead with plans to expand oil and gas production capacity, but has extended the time frame for oil development while giving higher priority to gas projects.

Second, government and industry have joined forces in initiatives to develop new oil markets. Third, several emirates have launched programmes to bolster energy efficiency and encourage energy conservation, reflecting the growing public awareness of the need to reduce carbon emissions.

Some of these directly involve the oil and gas sector. Fourth, the nation is moving ahead with low carbon and clean energy developments, with close co-operation from oil and gas producers. Fifth, it is fostering international energy partnerships and participating in more overseas energy projects. That is enough oil to last for more than a century and sufficient gas for more than year of supply at recent production rates.

The Shah reservoir contains so-called ultra-sour gas, consisting of about 30 per cent hydrogen sulphide. The deadly gas could endanger humans and livestock if allowed to leak into the atmosphere and could damage the environment. Gas fields with similar hydrogen sulphide concentrations have been developed elsewhere in the world, but not often.

ConocoPhillips, however, is a world leader in the safe exploitation of such reservoirs and will help ADNOC develop similar expertise. As a spin-off from the Shah project, Abu Dhabi will become the leading regional exporter of sulphur, which is used to make fertilisers, rubber and sulphuric acid.

They include four more projects to expand gas production and six aimed at oil development. Two more projects are planned to exploit sour gas fields, one onshore and one offshore. In total, Adco plans to increase oil production capacity by , bpd to 1. Offshore, the Abu Dhabi Marine Operations Company Adma-Opco is moving ahead with a ten-year plan to increase output from two major Gulf oil fields, Umm Shaif and Lower Zakum, to 1 million bpd by from about , bpd in The unit also plans to develop three smaller fields that are expected to yield another 76, bpd of crude oil.

The Zakum Development Company Zadco , another ADNOC offshore oil subsidiary, is proceeding with a project to increase output from the Upper Zakum field by about 50 per cent to , bpd following the completion of a reservoir study. In November of that year, it awarded a contract for dredging work required to build four artificial islands to support drilling rigs for the project.

The decision to proceed with the project during a sustained downturn in refining margins is part of a strategic move to capture a greater share of the global market for refined oil products when the economy recovers.

By it had dropped to 80, bpd. As a result, the second largest UAE emirate has swung from being a net oil exporter to importing most of its petroleum requirements. While it continues to pump gas from offshore fields, Dubai also consumes more of that fuel than it produces, and is increasingly dependent on imports to make up the difference.

The emirate already purchases several hundred cubic feet per day of gas from Dolphin Energy, an Abu Dhabi company that imports gas by pipeline from Qatar. In , after completing the construction of a receiving terminal, Dubai will start importing , tonnes per year of LNG under a contract with Qatar Petroleum and Shell. Dubai remains deeply involved in the petroleum sector, however, as a hub for oil trading and energy services. A condensates refinery at Jebel Ali, processing liquids from gas production, is being expanded to , bpd of capacity from 48, bpd.

Both process feedstock imported from Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Iran. The Dubai Mercantile Exchange DME , launched in , was the first commodities exchange to offer a futures contract for a benchmark Middle Eastern crude. A number of international oil companies maintain regional offices in Dubai, as do major companies providing services to the energy sector.

In , the US oil field services company Halliburton established its regional headquarters in Dubai. The following year, Mubadala Development, the Abu Dhabi government-owned industrial conglomerate, and the British energy services firm Petrofac set up a joint venture headquartered in Dubai. Crescent Petroleum, a private Sharjah company, produced oil from the Mubarak field in the Gulf, near Abu Musa Island until the end of , when it determined that the field had reached the end of its productive life and returned the concession to the Government of Sharjah.

Crescent and Dana Gas, a Sharjah affiliate, are also developing the Zora gas field, located in territorial waters shared by Sharjah and Ajman. Production of 50 million to 60 million scfd is expected to start in Dana and Emarat, a Dubai marketer of petroleum products, have jointly developed a common-user gas pipeline to serve Sharjah customers. The companies are drilling their first well at Al Madam. Gas production from the Atlantis field offshore Umm al-Qaiwan began in In June , the company reported that the Bukha field in Omani territorial waters off the Musandam peninsula had been returned to production after being shut down for several months.

As a result, it said, the Bukha and nearby West Bukha fields were producing at record combined levels of 10, barrels per day of oil and 40 million scfd of gas.

The port of Fujairah, on the Arabian Sea, handles about 1 million tonnes per month of marine transportation fuel and other oil products. The arrival in of gas imports through the Dolphin Energy pipeline from Qatar has facilitated power and water development in the emirate and stimulated local industry. With the completion of the strategic crude oil pipeline from Abu Dhabi, Fujairah is expected to undergo further expansion.

Mubadala produces oil in Oman and gas in several Southeast Asian countries. As the controlling shareholder of Dolphin Energy, a joint venture with Occidental Petroleum and the French energy group Total, Mubadala also produces gas and condensates in Qatar. Since , Dolphin has been sending up to 2 billion cubic feet per day of gas through an undersea pipeline to Taweelah in Abu Dhabi for distribution through an overland pipeline system to customers in the UAE and Oman.

Mubadala is in another joint venture with ConocoPhillips to explore for oil and gas in the Caspian Sea off the coast of Kazakhstan. It also owns interests in pipelines, production platforms and gas storage facilities in those areas, and is leading a project in the Netherlands to develop a major gas storage and marketing hub for western Europe.

In addition, Taqa has a substantial international and domestic portfolio of power generation assets. Al Thani Corporation, a private-sector Dubai company, is exploring for oil and gas in several African countries including Sudan, Egypt and Libya. Dana also produces oil and gas in Egypt.

RAK Petroleum is involved in oil and gas exploration and production in Oman, and has acquired a minor interest in Heritage Oil, a Canadian company with a big oil discovery in Kurdistan. By reducing the wasteful burning of gas at production facilities and oil refineries through better management, the company is not only cutting carbon dioxide emissions, but is also conserving a valuable energy resource.

The plan is to capture carbon dioxide emissions from major Abu Dhabi industrial installations and pipe the gas to oil fields for use in enhanced oil recovery projects. Eventually, the carbon dioxide would be permanently stored underground in the depleted reservoirs. Within the next few years, Abu Dhabi will also face decisions related to the expiry in and of long-term concessions covering production from most of its biggest oil fields.

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