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Gulf Times (Qatar): UAE eyes global firms to develop its gas fields

Published: Monday, 6 March, 2006, 09:50 AM Doha Time
Dubai: The United Arab Emirates, holder of the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves, plans to hire international energy companies to develop Abu Dhabi’s high-sulphur gas fields that were previously too expensive to harvest, an official said.
“We are talking to several international oil companies about producing these reservoirs,’’ Ismail al-Ramahi, manager of gas processing at the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, said in an interview yesterday in the UAE capital. “Market forces in the region have changed dramatically, and major expansions are required to meet rising demand in Abu Dhabi.’’
The second-largest Arab economy, the UAE has plans to import gas from Qatar because two-thirds of its own stocks are re-injected into its oil fields to maintain pressure levels to sustain crude output.
Demand for gas in the Gulf state may quadruple to 13.5bn cu ft a day over the next 25 years as the country builds more gas-fuelled power plants to cope with economic growth.
Gas demand among Arabian Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman, is growing at an annual rate of about 7%, at least twice as fast as in Europe, according Wood MacKenzie’s Lothian. High-sulphur gas is an environmental hazard, and disposing of sulphur extracted from natural gas is expensive and difficult, officials said.
“I am scared of the demand numbers with power growth rising by 10% each year,’’ Ahmed al-Sayegh, chief executive of the UAE’s Dolphin Energy Ltd, said yesterday in Abu Dhabi. “It’s clear there will be a deficit if we don’t utilise our own gas,’’ he said.
Dolphin Energy, 51% owned by Abu Dhabi’s government, wants to raise its planned gas imports from Qatar by 50% to over 3bn cu ft a day, al-Sayegh said in a February 8 interview.
ExxonMobil Corp was chosen last year to help develop Abu Dhabi’s Upper Zakum oil field, the fourth-largest in the world. ExxonMobil, BP Plc and Royal Dutch/Shell Group had been competing for more than three years for the contract, the best opportunity for foreign companies to gain access to Middle East oil.
BP’s chief executive John Browne visited Abu Dhabi on February 18, though the company’s spokesman, Toby Odone, declined at the time to comment on his meetings.
The UAE pumped 2.53mn bpd in January, according to Bloomberg data. – Bloomberg

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