Adnoc aims to award rights this year
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) hopes to complete a complex tendering process for the emirate's lucrative onshore oilfields this year.
The target is a turnaround from earlier this year, when Adnoc recommended extending its main onshore concession for an extra year to January 2015 to allow enough time to solicit and evaluate bids.
Executives with the foreign oil companies agreed extra time was necessary by default, although competitors not already present in the concession complained that it would put them at a disadvantage by further delaying their access to the geophysical data required to craft their bids.
But last month Abdulla Nasser Al Suwaidi, the director general of Adnoc, said in Abu Dhabi that the relicensing process could be completed this year.
Speeding up the auction for the fields, which include the ageing giants Bu Hasa, Bab, Shah and Asab, will help keep Abu Dhabi on track to meet its target of expanding overall pumping capacity from 2.8 million to 3.5 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2017. The fields in the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (Adco) concession account for 1.4 million bpd of that capacity, and complex technologies ranging from injecting carbon dioxide to 3D reservoir imaging will need to be evaluated for each one.
The legacy bidders - France's Total, the UK's BP, ExxonMobil of the US and the Anglo-Dutch Shell - are competing with new entrants such as Norway's Statoil and the US's Occidental,which have competitive technologies of their own.
Abu Dhabi is also evaluating how to include the interests of its customers in Asia, who buy the majority of the emirate's oil, by introducing the China National Petroleum Corporation, the Korea National Oil Corporation and Japan's Inpex - itself a player in Abu Dhabi since the 1960s offshore - as minority partners.
Awarding a separate tender for the Bab sour gasfield to Royal Dutch Shell has also freed Adnoc to focus on the onshore oil auction.
Shell announced last week that it had beaten out Total for the gasfield, which is 50 per cent carbon dioxide and 15 per cent hydrogen sulfide - a cocktail of corrosive compounds that can be deadly when released.
* Additional reporting contributed by Florian Neuhof