Abu Dhabi Raises Oil Output Capacity as It Expands Main Refinery

Abu Dhabi, with most of the crude in the United Arab Emirates, will raise output capacity to 3.5 million barrels a day to supply foreign buyers and feed an expanded local refinery, the head of the state oil company said.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., known as Adnoc, will reach its capacity target by 2017, Director General Abdulla Nasser al-Suwaidi said today in Abu Dhabi, the U.A.E.’s capital and largest sheikhdom. The emirate pumps 2.7 million barrels a day of crude, he said. Its current capacity is 2.8 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Some of the new production will supply expanded units at Adnoc’s refinery at the town of Ruwais on the Persian Gulf coast. The company plans to double processing capacity at the 400,000 barrel-a-day plant by the end of 2014, al-Suwaidi said at the Middle East Petroleum and Gas Conference.

Oil producers in the Gulf region are expanding refineries to satisfy domestic demand and reduce the need for imported fuel. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, buys gasoline and diesel to meet peaks in domestic consumption. Neighboring Abu Dhabi imports gasoline and exports some diesel on a spot basis, Sultan Al Mehairi, Adnoc’s director of refining and marketing, told reporters at the conference. The emirate can meet its gasoline needs once the expanded Ruwais facility operates at full capacity, he said.

Pipeline Exports

Abu Dhabi exports some of its crude though a pipeline to Fujairah, the U.A.E.’s main oil port outside the Strait of Hormuz, Al Mehairi said, without specifying the amount of crude exported from there. Adnoc will gradually boost the flow through this link, he said. Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, is a bottleneck for a fifth of the world’s oil supplies.

Al-Suwaidi said Adnoc expects to select partners in January for Abu Dhabi’s main onshore oil concession. The current contracts expire that month, and he denied that the deadline might be extended.

BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Total SA, all partners in the existing concession, are among the companies Adnoc asked to bid by October, he said.

Adnoc has also made a recommendation to Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Petroleum Council, the emirate’s main body for energy policy, about its preferred partner for development of the Bab natural gas field, al-Suwaidi said. He didn’t identify the preferred partner for the field, which contains so-called sour gas high in sulfur dioxide.

Shell is “in good standing” for the Bab project, al-Suwaidi said. An Adnoc official said last month the company had recommended two partners for the field. Total didn’t win the bidding, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie said on April 4 in Paris.

Adnoc and Occidental Petroleum Corp. will start producing next year at the Shah sour-gas field, al-Suwaidi said.

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