Abu Dhabi to Identify Partner for Bab Gas Field, Suwaidi Says

Abu Dhabi is close to identifying a partner to help produce natural gas at the Middle Eastern emirate’s Bab field and is on schedule to renegotiate contracts for its largest onshore oil fields, officials said.

State-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. has recommended one of two international companies that were in the running to develop gas at Bab, Mohammed Sahoo Al Suwaidi, head of the company’s gas directorate, said today. The company, known as Adnoc, is awaiting government approvals for the proposal, and a decision is imminent, he said.

Arab energy exporters Abu Dhabi and Iraq are among those that have tapped foreign expertise to help produce crude and natural gas, giving their partners a share of any output or paying them in return. Abu Dhabi holds 2.9 percent of the world’s gas reserves and 6 percent of its oil, according to data from BP’s 2012 annual statistical review.

Adnoc will select partners for its largest onshore oil areas in 2014 as planned, director general Abdulla Nasser al-Suwaidi said, dismissing reports that contract talks would be extended by one year.

“We are still progressing as scheduled,” al-Suwaidi said. Al-Suwaidi and Sahoo Al Suwaidi spoke to reporters at the inauguration of a solar power plant about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the city of Abu Dhabi.

Concession Holders

BP Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA and Partex Oil & Gas are shareholders in output from Abu Dhabi’s main onshore oil fields, under concession agreements that the international companies or their forebears have held since 1939. Adnoc became a partner in the 1970s, forming Abu Dhabi Co. for Onshore Oil Operations, which has the rights for six main deposits until 2014.

The five foreign partners as well as other producers may participate in bidding for 1.4 million barrel-a-day onshore oil rights as current contracts expire. Abu Dhabi holds more than 90 percent of the crude in one of the few Middle Eastern countries that allow foreign companies to explore for and produce oil within its borders.

Adnoc is poised to boost gas production from offshore fields to 1 billion standard cubic feet “this summer,” from about 200 million standard cubic feet now, Sahoo Al Suwaidi said today. Adnoc is completing a project that will pipe gas captured offshore to be processed on land.