It has been an exciting year for Abu Dhabi’s oil and gas industry, with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) subsidiaries Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Operations (Adco) and Abu Dhabi Gas Industries (Gasco) grabbing the headlines thanks to a series of high-profile, multi-billion-dollar development projects.

However, another state-run firm, Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company (Adma-Opco), has also been hard at work this year. Long the quiet man of the emirate’s oil and gas industry, Adma-Opco has been tending to the country’s main offshore assets, the Umm al-Shaif and Lower Zakum fields, since 1977.

With only two fields to operate, and only minor upgrades required to its existing infrastructure, the company has not generated the same amount of interest as its onshore cousins. But that is about to change.

Next year, Adma-Opco will tender contracts for the first new offshore oil field developments in more than 40 years, at Umm al-Lulu and Nasr. It will also step up work on its existing offshore fields, with an award for the ‘demothballing’ or revamping of the underused Zakum Central Super Complex network of oil-processing and distribution platforms planned before the end of 2009.

While these projects do not perhaps meet the grand ambitions of the Shah field development – a $10bn joint venture scheme to develop sulphur-heavy gas supplies in the south of the emirate – they are just as crucial to the country’s development plans.

Adma-Opco wants to boost its oil production to 1 million barrels a day by 2020 from existing levels of about 500,000 b/d as part of a wider plan to increase Abu Dhabi’s oil production capacity to 3.5 million b/d. Without the new fields and added processing capacity, Abu Dhabi’s production plans would be little more than pipe dreams.