China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has been awarded an 8 per cent stake in the joint venture that operates the majority of the UAE’s onshore oil and gas fields, Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Petroleum Operations (Adco).

The stake was awarded by state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and will stand for 40 years backdated to January 2015.

CNPC contributed a sign-up bonus of AED6.5bn ($1.8bn) to enter the concession, according to a statement from Adnoc.

Although China is a significant buyer of UAE crude, CNPC is the first Chinese company to enter one of Abu Dhabi’s major oil-and-gas-producing concessions.

The award brings the total equity held by foreign companies to 36 per cent with Adnoc aiming to increase this to 40 per cent while retaining a 60-per-cent majority.

UK-based BP was the last company to enter the Adco joint venture, announcing in December 2016 that it had taken a 10 per cent stake. France’s Total also holds a 10 per cent interest, Japan’s Inpex Corporation 5 per cent, and South Korea’s GS Energy 3 per cent.

The Adco concession covers several fields including Bu Hasa, Bab and Asab, and has an estimated production capacity of about 1.8 million barrels a day (b/d) of oil. Associated gas from these fields is processed by Abu Dhabi Gas Industries (Gasco).