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New oil discovery puts Abu Dhabi on course for 2030 target

Abu Dhabi crude oil discovery Creative Commons
Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States have imposed outright bans on Russian oil purchases, while Group of Seven (G7) nations, including Japan, committed to ban or phase out imports of Russian oil on May 8.

A new crude oil discovery by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) will help the company realise its ambitious target to produce five million barrels per day (bpd) by 2030, according to experts. 

The state-owned energy giant announced last week it had discovered 650 million barrels of crude at three new onshore sites.  

The discoveries were made at Bu Hasa, the emirate’s biggest onshore field, as well as at the onshore Block 3 and Al Dhafra Petroleum Concession.

“This is big news and shows the focus of the nation and Adnoc group in expanding its reserves and production capacity. The new discoveries also mean higher production volumes of the premium Murban grade in the future,” Sudharsan Sarathy, MENA lead analyst for oil and shipping research at Refinitiv, told AGBI. 

“Combined with the crude flexibility project being undertaken by Adnoc, it would create ample volumes of the benchmark grade available for trading, thereby not just increasing value but also strengthening liquidity in the benchmark which is the underlying goal for the IFAD Murban futures. 

“The discoveries also amplify the capability of Adnoc to reach and sustain the five million bpd target that has been set for 2030.” 

The oil producer has been vocal about its plans to significantly increase its investment in hydrocarbons. 

In December, its board approved plans to spend AED466 billion ($126.8 billion) between 2022 and 2026 to expand its upstream production capacity and downstream portfolio, as well as its low-carbon fuels business and clean energy ambitions. 

It has previously awarded a number of contracts to several companies to help increase its production.

“The new discoveries are not huge by Gulf standards, (some of which is quoted as oil-in-place, that is, not all recoverable), so about a 0.6 percent increase on national reserves, or about half of annual production,” said Robin Mills, CEO of Dubai-based independent consultancy Qamar Energy. 

“But they are a positive sign for the exploration blocks awarded in recent years, with Occidental already having announced a discovery in Block 3 in February 2021, and Eni an offshore gas discovery in February 2022. They are promising for Abu Dhabi’s strategy of monetising its hydrocarbon resources quicker, and for meeting Adnoc’s five million bpd capacity target by 2030.” 

US oil company Occidental was awarded the exploration rights for Onshore Block 3 in early 2019. This latest discovery amounts to about 100 million barrels of oil. 

The largest discovery – 500 million barrels of oil – was made at an exploration well in the Bu Hasa field, which currently has a crude oil production capacity of 650,000 bpd. 

“The 500 million barrels of oil discovered from an exploration well in the Bu Hasa field has unlocked a new formation within the field, offering substantial additional premium-grade Murban oil resources,” Adnoc said in a statement on Thursday.

Dmitry Marinchenko, senior director at Fitch Ratings, said: “The discovery is substantial on its own and will contribute to Abu Dhabi’s aspiration to increase production capacity from 4MMbpd to 5MMbpd by 2030. However, it can be viewed as moderate in the context of Abu Dhabi’s prolific oil reserves, which are estimated at almost 100 billion barrels.”

Meanwhile, roughly 50 million barrels of light and sweet Murban-quality crude was also discovered in Al Dhafra Petroleum Concession, operated by Al Dhafra Petroleum, a joint venture between Adnoc, the Korea National Oil Company and GS Energy, the state-owned oil company said.

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