The highest decision-making body for the emirate's most critical resource is the Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC). Its approval is required before the launch of any strategic project - be it the exploration of undeveloped oilfields by new partners or the renegotiation of a seven-decades-old concession.
It counts among its members Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
A number of technocrats fill out the roster, including Abdulla Nasser Al Suwaidi, the director general of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), who has only a short stroll from his office to the SPC, located inside Adnoc headquarters. Adnoc and the SPC have been closely linked since the council was founded in 1988 to serve as the board of directors of the state oil company.
Recently, however, there have been signs that the relationship is becoming less interdependent, starting in 2011 when the emirate gave the role of SPC secretary general - a position historically taken by the director general of Adnoc - to Jua'an Salem Al Dhaheri, an outsider to the oil industry.
Mr Al Dhaheri, the former president of the Abu Dhabi Social Services and Building Department and a man known for being financially aggressive, died last month. Neither has the SPC always accepted Adnoc's recommendations. It passed over Royal Dutch Shell, the Adnoc pick, for ConocoPhillips in 2008 and then Occidental in 2011 for work on the Shah sour gasfield.
The shift has come as Abu Dhabi has broadened its concerns from just oil to include gas, nuclear, solar and waste-burning power.
This year, the emirate replaced the energy minister, Mohammed Al Hamli , with Suhail Al Mazrouei, who oversaw Mubadala's expansion into liquefied natural gas imports and East African prospects.