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Partners in energy generation for more than 80 years

Nov 19, 2017
5 min read
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Britain and the UAE have a long and successful history in oil and gas and can look forward to a positive future, says UK ambassador to the Emirates, Philip Parham

How closely do the two countries’ oil and gas sectors work together?

The oil and gas sector in the UAE is now quite mature, and UK companies have been operating here since oil was first discovered in the 1930s. One of the original partners to the discovery was the forerunner of BP, and their tenure, 82 years later, has continued through their participation in the ADCO (now ADNOC Onshore) onshore concession - due to last a further 37 years. Partners in a maturing oil field will need to invest in the best new technologies and techniques in enhance oil recovery, an area in which the UK excels. It is our ambition to assist the UAE in maximising the recovery of incremental oil and to leverage our experience in exemplary HSE to help nurture and protect the natural environment of the Emirates.

What framework is in place for UK companies who want to expand into the UAE energy market?

Our Department for International Trade advises companies on international markets, introduces them to potential business partners and supports them with visit programmes, launch receptions, exhibition support and so on. We take a very much “whole of government” approach. Our embassy staff, across all our government departments represented in the UAE, are dedicated to working collectively to meet and exceed our global export target of £1 trillion a year by 2020.

We have a specific team in the embassy working for our Department for International Trade on oil and gas, nuclear, renewable and clean energy. They are on hand to provide advice to British companies operating in the market or wishing to enter it.

We also work with UAE-based importers, to find out what products and services they need to make their businesses more successful, with the aim to help them find UK partners and innovative, cost saving, effective, value-enhancing UK solutions. We have a free and anonymous online platform for sourcing from the UK called “Exporting is GREAT”.

We work to promote UK expertise through events in the UAE such as ADIPEC, the World Future Energy Summit, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Energy, which was held in Abu Dhabi for the first time last month.

What do you consider as the main energy opportunities available in the UAE to UK business?

Oil and gas is the foundation on which our energy trade is built. The UK will continue to be a dedicated long-term partner. The UAE’s enthusiastic adoption and development of clean energy, and its efforts to protect the natural environment, are very impressive. The UAE and UK can build real synergies in this area too. The UK of course enjoys rather less sunshine than the UAE, but we have researchers doing exciting things with nanoparticles and protective solar coatings.

We are developing commercial waste to energy technologies. And we have a strong record of advanced nuclear research, built on our experience of several decades of civil nuclear power in the UK. Masdar is already a leading partner in UK offshore wind installation with a current capacity of 5,355MW, bringing our total wind generation to 16,370MW - enough for nearly 11 million homes.

How important is ADIPEC to the UK’s energy industry?

ADIPEC is now widely acknowledged to be the largest oil and gas trade show in the world by most metrics, and is still growing year-on-year. Again this year, we have two pavilions for companies from the UK, each with around 60 companies - one managed by The Energy Industries Council (EIC) and one by Scottish Development International, who won Best International Pavilion at last year’s ADIPEC.

For the second year running, the Welsh Government will also be participating alongside the EIC. Some other British companies are here under their own auspices. In total around 200 British companies are participating – nearly 10 per cent of all the exhibitors. So, there’s no doubt how valuable ADIPEC is to the UK’s energy industry.

What can the UK’s businesses bring to the UAE’s oil and gas sector?

I have mentioned a number of areas where UK expertise, technology and manufacturing excellence already make major contributions to the UAE’s oil and gas sector. But a key focus is enhanced oil recovery techniques, to manage and optimise ageing fields as efficiently as possible. On the UK continental shelf, end-of-life field recovery is projected at an average of 46 per cent.

The adoption of suitable technology could result in up to six billion extra barrels being recovered from the North Sea, on top of the recoverable reserves of 20 billion barrels which are currently estimated to remain - which would mean the life of many North Sea fi elds being extended by an extra 10 years. This is the type of expertise which we can also bring to bear in the UAE with Emirati partners.

In the future, we are looking at spending AED 177 billion on decommissioning in the North Sea. This will stimulate corresponding supply chain development, which will be easily translatable to the Emirates when decommissioning is required here.