When oil was discovered in Abu Dhabi in 1958 the income it would create was desperately needed, following the collapse of the emirates pearl fishing industry many years before. The discovery of oil in the offshore Umm Shaif field was followed two years later by finding commercial quantities of oil at the onshore Murban-3 well (now the Bab field) and the second-largest offshore field in the world, Zakum, in 1963.
By 1976, the first refinery had opened in Umm al-Nar. Oil revenues were invested in public infrastructure, enabling the emirate to modernise and develop into the society it is today. Oil now accounts for approximately 50.9 per cent of Abu Dhabis GDP.
The Umm Shaif concession is operated by Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company, whose shareholders today include BP, Total, Jodco and Adnoc, and has been upgraded over the years to maintain production. Its capacity is 275,000 barrels a day with proven reserves of about 3.9 billion barrels.
The field was the lynchpin in Abu Dhabi Gas Industries $11bn Integrated Gas Development project, completed in 2013. The scheme transfers 1,000 million cubic feet a day of high-pressure gas from the field to onshore processing facilities at Habshan and Ruwais.