Abu Dhabi has unveiled the discovery of 22bn barrels of unconventional reserves including shale oil as the Gulf producer pledged $122bn in capital expenditure for its national oil company over the next five years.
The emirate’s supreme petroleum council said on Sunday that it had also discovered another 2bn of conventional oil, bringing its recoverable reserves up to 107bn, the sixth-largest in the world.
In a statement, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company said the 22bn in unconventional oil resources were larger than some of those in its conventional fields.
“The production potential ranks alongside the most prolific North American shale oil plays,” it said.
The announcement of new reserves comes amid tensions between Abu Dhabi and its close ally Riyadh in the summer after it exceeded its production quota set by Opec, the oil group led by Saudi Arabia.
Opec and allied producers such as Russia agreed steep output cuts to help oil prices recover after they slumped to 18-year lows of below $20 a barrel in April.
The council’s approval of $122bn in capital expenditure for 2021-25 marks a reduction in the last five-year plan of 2018, which foresaw $132bn in spending through 2023. The oil-rich emirate is targeting an increase in output capacity from 4m barrels a day to 5m barrels a day by 2030.
Adnoc, under chief executive Sultan Al Jaber, has over the past few years been introducing cost efficiencies and has brought in more overseas investment as the UAE capital seeks to maximise hydrocarbon revenues as it prepares for a post-oil future.
The spending plan would over the next five years drive around $44bn into the UAE, Adnoc said, via a programme seeking to channel investment back into the domestic economy and create jobs for emiratis. The economy has been dented by the economic toll of coronavirus and lower oil prices.
Adnoc said the council had granted approval for the awarding of exploration blocks in Abu Dhabi’s second competitive bid round, which was launched in 2019.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and de facto ruler, also mandated Adnoc to explore opportunities in developing hydrogen as a fuel source.