United Arab Emirates (UAE) Oil And Gas Profile
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  • The United Arab Emirates is a major oil producer and exporter. In 2012, the country produced an average of 2.8 million barrels of crude oil per day, the eighth highest total in the world.
  • According to Oil & Gas Journal estimates, the UAE holds the seventh-largest proved reserves of oil in the world at 97.8 billion barrels, with the majority of reserves located in Abu Dhabi (approximately 94% of the UAE's total). The other six Emirates combined account for just 6% of the UAE's crude oil reserves, led by Dubai with approximately 4 billion barrels. The UAE holds approximately 6% of the world's proved oil reserves.
  • The UAE holds the seventh-largest proved reserves of natural gas in the world, at just over 215 trillion cubic feet (Tcf).



  • Each of the seven emirates is responsible for regulating the oil industry within their borders, creating a mix of production-sharing arrangements and service contracts. In Abu Dhabi, the Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) sets Abu Dhabi's petroleum-related objectives and policies. Given Abu Dhabi's status as the central player in the UAE's oil industry, the SPC is the most important entity in the country when it comes to establishing oil policy.
  • The Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE) oversees Dubai's energy-policy development and coordination.
  • Abu Dhabi bases contract structures on long-term, production-sharing agreements (PSAs) between state-run ADNOC and private actors (primarily large international oil companies) with the state holding a majority share in all projects. With the exceptions of Dubai and Sharjah—which have service contracts to manage their declining reserves—the smaller Emirates all use PSAs similar to those found in Abu Dhabi.



  • The ADNOC-led consortia continue to keep the UAE near the top of the list of the world's largest crude oil producers, ranking eighth in 2012 at 2.8 million barrels per day (bbl/d), just behind Iraq. Based on recent reports, the goal to boost UAE's crude oil production to 3 million bbl/d by the end of 2013 does not seem attainable, and the country appears poised to push back its longer-term 3.5 million bbl/d target until 2019 or 2020. With limited prospects for major discoveries, production increases in the UAE will come almost exclusively from the use of EOR techniques in Abu Dhabi's existing oil fields
  • Recent exploration in the UAE has not yielded any significant discoveries of crude oil. What the UAE lacks in new discoveries it makes up for with an emphasis on EOR techniques designed to extend the lifespan of the Emirates' existing oil fields. By improving the recovery rates at the existing fields, such techniques helped the UAE to nearly double the proved reserves in Abu Dhabi over the past decade.
  • Much of the oil production in the UAE is from the Zakum oil system, a collection of oil fields which together make up the third largest oil zone in the world.
  • For further information, see Exploration and Production in UAE
Major Oil Fields
  • The production figures are for 2012
  1. Bu Hasa Oil Field - 550,000
  2. Sahil, Asab, and Shah (SAS) - 430,000
  3. Murban Bab - 360,000
  4. Bida al-Qemzan - 225,000
  5. Upper Zakum Oil Field - 500,000
  6. Lower Zakum - 300,000
  7. Umm Shaif Oil Field - 230,000
  8. Al-Dabbiya, Rumaitha, and Shanayel - 100,000
  9. Satah Oil Field - 20,000

Natural Gas

  • Dry natural gas production in the UAE rose to nearly 1.9 Tcf in 2012, continuing the upward trend that began in the 1980s. Dry production grew steadily by an annual average rate of 1.6% between 2003 and 2012. The UAE's dry natural gas production ranks the country in the top-20 globally for 2012, based on EIA estimates.
  • Despite the challenges of producing natural gas domestically, the UAE hopes to further boost production to help meet the country's growing demand, which increased at an annual average rate of nearly 5.3% between 2003 and 2012.
  • Several recent and ongoing projects—the Onshore Gas Development (OGD), Integrated Gas Development (IGD), and Offshore Associated Gas (OAG) projects—may increase production of the country's reserves, and could help meet the rapidly growing demand for natural gas in the country.
  • OGD phases one and two expanded associated gas production at the Asab and Sahil fields to help increase reservoir pressure in the oil fields, with the Asab field dry production reaching 800 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d), and 6.4 MMcf/d of natural gas liquids (NGL). Phase three of the project—completed in 2008—brought production of the Bab field gas to 1.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d).
  • For further information, see Exploration and Production in UAE

Active Companies

  • The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)—which operates 15 subsidiaries throughout the oil, gas, and petrochemical sector—leads the day-to-day operations and implementation of SPC directives, and is the key shareholder in nearly all upstream activity in Abu Dhabi.
  • Major international oil companies involved in the oil and gas sector in the UAE include BP, Shell, Total, ExxonMobil, and Occidental Petroleum

Crude Oils

  • The UAE has several crude streams, including the Murban Crude Oil—a light (API gravity i of 40.5°) and sweet (low sulfur) crude that is the country's primary export stream.
  • In April 2014, Abu Dhabi plans to offer a new crude stream called Das, which is a blend of two existing streams—the Umm Shaif and Lower Zakum crude streams—which will have an average gravity of 39° API.
  • ADNOC currently produces just 350,000 bbl/d of the Umm Shaif Crude Oil and 280,000 bbl/d of the Zakum crude. Other streams include the Dubai and Zakum streams, which are also light and sweet crudes.


  • The UAE has a well-developed domestic pipeline network that links oil fields with processing plants and export terminals. The newest export pipeline, the Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline (ADCOP) Project, runs 230 miles from Habshan to Fujairah and began operations in June 2012.
  • This pipeline gives the UAE a direct link from the rich fields of its western desert to the Gulf of Oman, and from there to global markets. With a capacity of 1.5 million bbl/d—and expectations that the capacity will reach 1.8 million bbl/d in the near future—this pipeline will provide the UAE with the ability to export a significant portion of its daily production without passing through the Strait of Hormuz, the world's busiest energy chokepoint.


  • In 1977, the UAE became the first country in the Middle East to export LNG, sending its first load to the Tokyo Power Company (TEPCO) as part of a long-term supply agreement. The UAE signed a second contract in 1990 to double LNG exports to Japan, and in 1994, a third LNG train at Das Island began operation to help fulfill the terms of the agreement.
  • The Adgas Das Island LNG Terminal has a capacity of 6 million tons per year of LNG (over 470 MMcf of natural gas), 2.7 million tons per year of LPG (approximately 31 million barrels of oil equivalent), and almost 1 million tons per year of other associated products.


  • The UAE has five refining facilities, the largest of which are the Al Ruwais Refinery (400,000 bbl/d) and Jebel Ali Refinery (120,000 bbl/d) refineries. According to the Oil & Gas Journal, total refining capacity in the UAE reached more than 770,000 bbl/d by the end of 2012, an increase of approximately 150,000 bbl/d over the 2011 total.
  • IPIC plans to invest $3 billion on a new Fujairah refining complex, with a targeted capacity of 250,000 bbl/d. Once completed, the new refinery will be the second largest in the Emirates behind the facility in Ruwais.
  • Takreer, which is ADNOC's refining subsidiary, plans to expand the refinery at Ruwais by 400,000 bbl/d by mid-2014. ENOC announced plans in June 2012 to boost the refining capacity of the Jebel Ali refinery off the coast of Dubai by 20,000 bbl/d as part of a larger port-expansion project.

Relevant Links

  1. EIA, The United Arab Emirates
  2. Oil and Gas in the UAE
  3. ADIPEC Museum Brochure
  4. Google Earth map of UAE oil and gas infrastructure

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