The UAE has proven oil reserves of 97.8 billion barrels, or almost 6 per cent of the world’s total. At current production rates, these should last more than 80 years.

The country’s proven gas reserves stood at 6.1 trillion cubic metres at the end of 2011, equivalent to almost 3 per cent of all gas reserves in the world and enough to last more than 100 years at current levels of production.

Abu Dhabi leads

The majority of the crude reserves are held by the UAE’s capital and largest emirate by size, Abu Dhabi. Its large onshore and offshore fields together account for 94 per cent of the country’s total reserves. By contrast, Dubai and the other five northern emirates account for just 6 per cent of the total.

UAE key figures
Oil reserves (billion barrels), 2012 97.8
Gas reserves (trillion cubic feet), 2012 215
Refinery output (thousand barrels a day), 2010 544
Exports of oil (thousand barrels a day), 2010 2,142
Exports of refined products (thousand barrels a day), 2010 382
Source: EIA

Each emirate is responsible for hydrocarbons production and exploration within its territory. In Abu Dhabi, the sector is controlled by the Supreme Petroleum Council, with the main operating company being state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc). In Dubai, the key body is the Supreme Council of Energy and the main operator is Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc).

Other local firms include Sharjah National Oil Corporation, Ajman National Oil Company and RAK Petroleum of Ras al-Khaimah, which in 2011 merged its oil and gas assets with Norway’s DNO International. Adnoc itself has several important subsidiaries, many of which are joint ventures with international oil companies, with Adnoc maintaining a controlling 60 per cent stake.

For example, Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company (Adma-Opco) is a tie-up with the UK’s BP, France’s Total and Japan’s Jodco. Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (Adco) is a joint venture with BP, Total, the US’ ExxonMobil, UK/Dutch Shell Group and Portugal’s Partex Oil & Gas.

UAE major projects
Project Client Sector Value ($m)
Upper Zakum full field development Zakum Development Company Oil extraction/ production 16,180
Shah gas development Abu Dhabi Gas Development Company Gas extraction/ production 11,261
Integrated gas development Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Gas extraction/ production 11,085
Ruwais refinery expansion Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company Oil refining/ processing 10,101
Integrated gas development: Habshan 5 process plant Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Gas processing 5,000
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These two ventures operate most of the offshore and onshore fields in Abu Dhabi. However, the giant offshore Upper Zakum field is operated by a separate company, Zakum Development Company (Zadco), which is 60 per cent owned by Adnoc, 28 per cent by ExxonMobil and 12 per cent by Jodco.

Other major fields include the onshore Bu Hasa with production of 600,000 barrels a day (b/d) and the Sahil, Asab and Shah fields with a combined production of 385,000 b/d.

UAE tenders
Tender Client Status
Maintenance of automation, control and telecoms system on Habshan-Fujairah oil pipeline Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations Awarded to Germany’s Siemens
Engineering, procurement and construction contract for atmospheric flare gas revamp unit  Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company Bids submitted
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Abu Dhabi also holds the lion’s share of the UAE’s gas reserves, with about 94 per cent of the total. The rest is shared between Sharjah – 4 per cent, Dubai – 1.5 per cent and Ras al-Khaimah – 0.5 per cent. Much of the gas produced in the UAE has a high sulphur content, making it more difficult and expensive to exploit.

Currently, natural gas production is running at close to 5 billion cubic feet a day (cf/d), up from less than 4 billion cf/d at the turn of the century. About 30 per cent of the gas produced in the UAE each year is reinjected into oil wells to maintain their pressure. The UAE also imports gas from Qatar via the Dolphin pipeline.