Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) is expected to spend $122 billion over the next five years to boost its oil and gas production capacity in a move that will involve a mix of greenfield and brownfield developments, along with its push for unconventional resources.

The state-owned emirati player presently has an oil production capacity of 4 million barrels per day, while its gas production capacity is about 11 billion cubic feet per day.

It also produces about 1.3 Bcfd of sour gas, mostly driven by the Shah sour gas project.

However, the company aims to increase its oil production capacity to as much as 5 million bpd by the end of this decade and plans to add at least 3 Bcfd of gas production capacity in the next few years.

Adnoc’s expansion plans are underpinned by robust oil and gas prices and it believes that hydrocarbons will continue to remain relevant, despite the increased focus on energy transition.

“In this transition, the world will still need oil and gas for many decades to come, so our mission at Adnoc is to provide that oil and gas as responsibly as possible,” a company spokesperson told Upstream.

Wake-up call

Adnoc chief executive Sultan Ahmed al Jaber recently said the ongoing global energy crisis is a wake-up call for the need to invest more in the oil and gas sector, which could avoid another energy supply crunch.

As the oil-rich emirate scales up capacity, a majority of Abu Dhabi’s incremental crude production is likely to come from key offshore fields such as Upper Zakum, Lower Zakum, Umm Shaif, Umm Al Dalkh and Belbazem, Upstream understands.

Adnoc earlier this year awarded contracts for the Belbazem and Umm Al Dalkh developments.

Belbazem is expected to produce around 45,000 bpd of oil and about 30 million cubic feet per day of gas in the next few years, while the Umm Al Dalkh early production scheme aims to ramp up the field’s oil output to 20,000 bpd in another year or two and sustain this level for a three-year period.

The field is currently producing about 15,000 bpd from the existing offshore infrastructure.

Many believe that with Adnoc having approved the Belbazem and Umm Al Dalkh development, other big-ticket items — including long-term development plans for the Umm Shaif, Upper Zakum and Lower Zakum oilfields — are likely to gain momentum.

The expansion of Adnoc’s Upper Zakum field is seen as integral to Abu Dhabi’s long-term oil output strategy.

“The Upper Zakum field is one of the key projects enabling our production capacity growth. It is capable of producing over 900,000 bpd and we plan to further increase its capacity as part of our 2030 strategy,” an Adnoc spokesperson said.

Tender process

The initial expansion stages for Upper Zakum and Lower Zakum are thought to be in the engineering phase, with those projects likely to enter the EPC phase within the next year or two.

In addition, Adnoc is carrying out the tender process for the first phase of its Umm Shaif long term development scheme, known as Umm Shaif LTDP-1.

The project aims to sustain oil production from the offshore field until 2028 and is a key part of the emirate’s strategy to achieve its output capacity growth target.

Umm Shaif is believed to be producing around 275,000 bpd at present and LTDP-1 will sustain plateau oil production from 2024 to 2028, Upstream understands.

While some sceptics have raised concerns over Adnoc’s ambitious expansion plans for its oilfields, a company spokesperson told Upstream that it remains “on track to expand its crude oil production capacity to 5 million bpd by 2030”.

Onshore, the Bab oilfield remains at the heart of Abu Dhabi's development efforts, with a significant ramp-up to 485,000 bpd targeted by the end of the year and further exploration on the agenda, according to an Adnoc spokesperson.

Along with Bab, several additional onshore fields in Abu Dhabi are expected to witness significant brownfield development to maintain their production profiles over the years, project watchers say.

Abu Dhabi steps up natural gas plans

As Adnoc continues to press ahead with key oilfield developments in line with its 2030 strategy, the company is also expected to spend billions of dollars to ramp up the emirate's gas output capacity.

Adnoc is expected to spend close to $20 billion on the Ghasha sour gas concession alone, which will include the development of Hail & Ghasha and Dalma offshore fields.

Adnoc has not set a timeline for the execution of Ghasha, but industry experts say a final investment decision could be reached as soon as early next year.

As well as sour gas projects, Adnoc is expanding into unconventionals, tapping into gas cap reservoirs and unlocking new resources as it aims for gas self-sufficiency and, in time, to emerge as a key gas exporter.

A company spokesperson told Upstream that gas-based developments are a key part of the company’s long-term goals.

“At the heart of this goal is the expansion of our producing assets like Shah and the development of new ones, like the unique Umm Shaif gas cap and the Hail, Ghasha and Dalma project,” the spokesperson said.

Together, the ongoing gas developments are expected to add more than 3 billion cubic feet per day of gas production in the coming years.

The company’s Adnoc LNG subsidiary recently launched the chase for key engineering work on a giant liquefied natural gas export terminal in the UAE.

Adnoc plans to build a 9.6 million tonnes per annum export facility at Fujairah, able to cater to the markets of India, Pakistan, China, Japan and other Asian countries.

The company recently sought expressions of interest from several international engineering contractors for conceptual studies and for front-end engineering and design work on the surface facilities required.

Chief executive Sultan Ahmed al Jaber has highlighted the UAE's ambition to become a major LNG exporter in the region, competing with neighbour Qatar, a world leader in LNG exports.