Oil 2014: The El Bunduq oilfield is one of the industry's more unusual production sites and its usefulness extends beyond simply being a source of crude.
A field with growing opportunities
The El Bunduq oilfield is one of the industry's more unusual production sites and its usefulness extends beyond simply being a source of crude.
Situated on the maritime border of Abu Dhabi and Qatar, the field is an example of successful cooperation in the Arabian Gulf that precedes the GCC.
"One of our roles is to connect the oil industries, Adnoc [Abu Dhabi National Oil Company] and Qatar Petroleum, and they use Bunduq as a tool to communicate," said Yuji Shiozawa, the general manager at the Bunduq Oil Production Company. The field's platforms have been pumping oil since 1975 with the proceeds split evenly between its joint owners.
"Sometimes they say, 'You are our embassy here,'" added Ahmed Al Jabbar, a Qatari working as the administration manager at Bunduq at the company's Abu Dhabi office.
The firm is dominated by three Japanese oil companies - Cosmo Oil, JX Nippon and Mitsui - with BP holding a 3 per cent minority stake. Unusually for oil production in the emirate, Adnoc does not hold a stake in the concession. It is only involved in facilitating the export of the crude, estimated at 16,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2009, from its offshore hub on Das Island, to where the oil is transferred by pipeline.
Japanese companies are well represented in Abu Dhabi's offshore sector with Inpex holding a stake in the main offshore concessions via its subsidiary Jodco.
The Japanese are also familiar with the challenges posed by offshore production and maturing fields in particular.
El Bunduq is a case in point. Crude production has declined from an estimated peak of 50,000 bpd and the field is now emitting more water than oil.
The reservoir's gas, which is rich in sulphur and dangerous to handle, is reinjected into the field alongside water to maintain wellhead pressure. But as production drops, further enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods are needed and are currently being evaluated.
El Bunduq offers Abu Dhabi a test-bed for EOR techniques that can be applied to larger fields.
"People think the Gulf area is easy to exploit but that is not true," said Mr Shiozawa.