Under the deal, Occidental will operate both fields and hold a 100 per cent interest in the newly created concessions.

The US oil major says development at the onshore Jarn Yaphour field will start immediately, with first production of 10,000 barrels a day (b/d) from the field expected in 2009. It expects similar output levels from the Ramhan field from 2011.

Occidental says the Ramhan discovery, located in shallow water near the Abu Dhabi refinery, was tested in 1992 and flowed at a combined rate of 1,750 barrels of oil and 14 million cubic feet a day (cf/d) of gas from one well.

The firm says in addition to the initial field developments, its investment will include field appraisal activities to determine the further development potential of each area.

Occidental has previously signed memorandums of understanding with the Abu Dhabi government-run Mubadala Development Company and International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) for the development of joint oil and gas ventures (MEED 25:9:08).