x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Partex hopes to retain presence in UAE

Partex is hoping to remain part of Abu Dhabi's main onshore concession after its renewal in spite of being the only current stakeholder that is not involved in the bidding process.

Partexis hoping to remain part of Abu Dhabi's main onshore concession after its renewal in spite of being the only current stakeholder that is not involved in the bidding process.

Meanwhile, the company's association with Abu Dhabi could be revived abroad, as Partex is looking for partners on a gas export project in Mozambique.

The Portuguese company invokes tradition and argues that the powerbroking role played by its founder - the legendary oil industry figure Calouste Gulbenkian - is still relevant.

Mr Gulbenkian was instrumental in introducing the international oil companies (IOCs) that are part of the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Operations (Adco) concession to the emirate.

BP, Shell, Total and ExxonMobil all signed up to tapping Abu Dhabi's oil reserves in 1939, with Partex becoming a minority shareholder in recognition of Mr Gulbenkian's achievement.

The Adco concession expires next year and Partex was not asked to submit prequalification documents to bid for the successor concession. Instead, Asian national oil companies and some smaller IOCs with specialised technology are part of the bidding process.

"We are in contact with the authorities, and we are discussing with them, trying to find a role for Partex in the future, aligned with these experiences that we have in the past," said Antonio Costa Silva, Partex's chief executive. "We can play a role in terms of aligning the different interests to make the partnerships work."

Mr Gulbenkian, known as "Mr Five Per cent", was also fundamental in dividing up the oil sector in Iraq and Oman. His 5 per cent stake in Abu Dhabi's onshore concession was reduced to 2 per cent when the newly founded Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) took a 60 per cent stake in Adco in 1973.

Cooperation with Abu Dhabi could also extend beyond the UAE's borders. Partex is putting together a bid for a liquefied natural gas export project in Mozambique, one of the East African countries that is tipped to be on the verge of a natural gas boom. One of the partners in this venture could be Mubadala Petroleum, the Abu Dhabi investor that is playing a crucial part in importing gas to the emirate.

"We are working with some partners, even from Abu Dhabi, to build a partnership, to present a very competitive proposal," said Mr Silva.

Mubadala Petroleum holds a stake in an offshore gas exploration block in neighbouring Tanzania, and stated last week that it was studying the potential for exports from its international gas operations.

Partex also holds a 2 per cent stake in Gasco, the Adnoc subsidiary responsible for the emirate's onshore gas production and processing. Abu Dhabi has handed out undeveloped acreage to China's and South Korea's national oil companies, and a smaller gas concession to Germany's Wintershall and Austria's OMV.

Mr Silva believes such projects would also hold value for his company. "Smaller fields, other projects, we are ready to cooperate, and discuss with the authorities," he said, adding that no discussions have been held about involvement outside Adco and Gasco.

 

fneuhof@thenational.ae