The Sharjah Petroleum Council works to regulate the region’s oil and gas sector, while attracting investment in explorative enterprises
The United Arab Emirates holds the world’s sixth largest oil and seventh largest gas reserves, with proven stocks of 98 billion barrels and 227 trillion cubic feet respectively. Unsurprisingly, oil and gas is a significant component of the UAE economy, and oil production in Sharjah began back in 1974 in the Mubarek Field, which had been discovered by Crescent Petroleum two years previously.
The region’s oil and gas sector is now overseen by the Sharjah Petroleum Council, which was created by Royal decree in 1999. Its Director General, Sheikh Mohammed bin Ahmed Sultan Al-Qasimi, is keen to stress the efforts being made to develop the oil industry.
“The role of the Petroleum Council is to regulate the oil and gas sector in Sharjah. Although, for the moment, our resources are very limited, our efforts continue to try and find more resources here and there, exploring every opportunity we can in the area. We are not stopping.”
He continues: “We are developing our resources and trying to maximize our production. At the same time, we are encouraging other companies to come and invest in this sector because it is in need of big investments.”
Oil exploration is a high-risk endeavour and – perhaps ironically – larger companies have been less inclined to gamble on explorative operations, leaving the field open to smaller, newer, more ambitious outfits such as Rex Oil and Gas. “They are a fairly new, small company who decided to come and take a risk, and they are doing very well.”
In 2011, Rex Oil and Gas was granted the rights to explore and drill in Sharjah’s Eastern offshore concession. Under the terms of the 23-year agreement, Rex Oil and Gas will conduct the required geological studies, along with three-dimensional seismic surveys, and drill exploration wells in the concession area.
Because of its central location, Sharjah is also considered a natural gas hub. “Gas is coming in from everywhere and concentrated in Sharjah, and then is distributed to the other emirates. Most of the gas going to the Northern emirates must first pass through Sharjah,” says Sheikh Mohammed bin Ahmed Sultan Al-Qasimi.
Interestingly, and perhaps appropriately for a council formed by Royal decree, the Council’s activities are never far from the attention of Sharjah’s ruler, Sheikh Dr.Sultan III bin Muhammad al-Qasimi.
“We as a council are linked directly to His Highness, unlike other departments. In most cases, we report back to His Highness to get instructions, directions and ideas. The amazing thing about His Highness is that he is fully informed on all matters. We as a technical team are sometimes surprised when he asks us some very specific, technical questions on oil and gas. He is always ahead of us.”
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