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Masdar to Maintain Clean-Energy City Budget, Plan, Al Jaber Says

Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s government-backed renewable energy company, is on track to develop a clean-energy city on time and intends to maintain its current level of spending, its chief executive officer said.

“We are not scaling back, we are not scaling down,” Sultan Al Jaber said today in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi. “Our plans are very much the same. Our budget is very much the same.” He declined to disclose figures.

Masdar said last month that it abandoned plans for Masdar City to be carbon-neutral from the start and delayed the city’s first phase by two years to 2015, while saying the project will be completed between 2020 and 2025. The company said Nov. 11 it started the second phase of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology as energy demands increase over the project’s lifetime.

“In our business we have to be very agile, very flexible and dynamic enough to learn, document, adjust, adapt and move forward,” Al Jaber said. “This is the name of the game.”

Founded in 2006, Masdar City is the showpiece of Abu Dhabi’s pursuit of alternative energy. The $22 billion venture, which includes the research university, was reviewed this year after the financial crisis caused spending reductions.

Review Plans

Abu Dhabi, holder of about 7 percent of the world’s oil reserves, forecast a second consecutive budget deficit this year, the shortfall to be covered by transfers from state-run investment bodies, according to a government-guaranteed bond prospectus.

“We cannot say that our business plan or our strategy, that was put together four years ago, that we will have to stick to it no matter what situation is happening in our world,” he said. “That is absolutely not wise to do.”

Richard Reynolds, the head of supply-chain management at the zero-carbon Masdar City project said on June 22 that Masdar made “staff cuts,” to eliminate an overlap of roles. Al Jaber said today the company is hiring new staff and the project is progressing.

“We will always, always review our plans as we progress,” Al Jaber said. “We are being much smarter about our business.”

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