State-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) is planning to start operating a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) floating import terminal in the second half of this year.

The terminal is being supplied by the US-based gas shipping company Excelerate Energy, according to the UK-based news agency Reuters, which cited three anonymous sources.

The UAE has 215 trillion cubic feet of reserves, making it the seventh-largest reserve holder globally and the fourth biggest in the Middle East.

More than 90 per cent of the reserves are found in Abu Dhabi, with smaller amounts located in Sharjah, Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah.

Despite its large reserves the UAE has struggled to meet domestic gas demand in recent years.

Gas consumption in Abu Dhabi has been rising by 10-15 per cent a year as a result of increased demand from the power sector, industry, and the oil sector, which has required increasing volumes for reinjection into maturing reservoirs.

There are also also significant obstacles to developing the UAE’s gas reserves.

Most of Abu Dhabi’s gas deposits are either associated with oil, meaning that output can only be increased if Opec oil output is increased, or are very sour non-associated gas, making exploitation technically difficult and expensive.

The development of Abu Dhabi’s sour gas deposits was first looked at in the late 1990s. However, an Adnoc-commissioned gas masterplan concluded at the time that it would be cheaper to import gas from Qatar than to develop the domestic reserves.

This was one of the key selling points behind the Dolphin gas pipeline project, which resulted in gas being imported from Doha in 2007.

Since then, Dubai has commissioned a temporary LNG receiving terminal, which was supplied by Excelerate Energy.