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Interview

with Ali Rashid Al-Jarwan, CEO, Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company (ADMA-OPCO)

25.04.2013 / Energyboardroom

ADMA-OPCO recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its 1st shipment of crude oil from Abu Dhabi. How would you describe the company as it is today and what are its ambitions?

The Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company (ADMA-OPCO) carries out the activities of oil and gas exploration, development and production from the offshore concession areas of Abu Dhabi. The company prides itself on being a pioneering petroleum organization in the region, having completed over half a century of oil and gas production. We are as distinguished in managing aging assets as we are in performance excellence in achieving our targets while maintaining an impeccable health, safety and environment track record. All this history illustrates the background of our local industry and the extent to which we have progressed and evolved. It is for these reasons after all that ADMA-OPCO has grown into a tier-1 offshore operating company.

Today we are managing the risks associated with offshore activities, along with those associated with aging assets. In addition to this, we are now also pursuing an aggressive growth agenda to expand our production capacity. A number of years ago, our production levels were around 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) while today this figure has grown to exceed 600,000 bpd. Through an aggressive investment and growth plan, our goal is to increase our production capacity to approximately one million bpd by 2020.

What exactly do these investments entail?

From the Lower Zakum field, we are working towards increasing production capacity by 100,000 bpd and we have achieved more than 50% of the projects of that program. In addition, ADMA-OPCO is developing the Umm Lulu and Nasr fields for the first time with an early production of 20,000 bpd from each field, which is coupled with a full field development plan in the near future. Similarly, we are also developing the Satah Al-Razboot (SARB), field through the construction of two artificial islands instead of a traditional steel platform. Together, the three fields should give us 270,000 bpd which will bring the production level to a total of about 970,000 bpd. For the remaining 30,000 bpd, which will bring us to the 1 million bpd figure, ADMA-OPCO will be looking into the undeveloped fields from either Umm Shaif or Lower Zakum.

Ultimately, this expansion entails tripling the number of our rigs, from five to fifteen rigs by 2015. A number of years ago we had five rigs, after we gave ZADCO five of our ten rigs. Today, we have grown this figure to eleven and expect to reach our target of fifteen soon.

ADMA-OPCO awarded a significant number of projects to world class EPC contractors associated with several supply chain manufacturers which have to be appropriately managed in order to install the new facilities, pipelines and towers so drilling the wells can commence. ADMA is therefore at a golden time where its individuals can learn and its managers can excel. And together with our shareholders and partners, there is a lot of value to be delivered, which can only arise through a collaborative environment, which we have diligently worked towards embedding in our organization’s culture by utilizing all reputable consultants and input providers around us.

What role does technology and innovation play in these ambitious plans?

In fulfilling these ambitions, we are also pursuing the application of the latest technologies across all our activities from design, to instillation. For instance, all the new fields, which we will develop, will be equipped with the state-of-the-art remote monitoring and oilfield automation technologies. This will enable us to conduct real time operations and monitoring of the fields on a wide range of parameters.

Oilfield automation is of course only one example where we are applying the latest technologies. On the other hand, we are pursuing any and all that could enhance our efficiency or productivity. This includes employing the latest machinery, detection tools, or reservoir modeling and maintenance methodologies.

As a strong advocate for innovation, ADMA-OPCO consistently encourages its workforce to innovate solutions to technical challenges. We firmly believe there is always a better way to produce and seek hidden potential, in the equipment or the system, through innovation. We have therefore put in place a process that encourages our professional teams to provide innovative solutions in order to improve our operating efficiency, reduce costs and provide rapid solutions.

Although this is a small snapshot of the current situation, it indicates that the capabilities of our organization are under continuous improvement. We are ensuring that we possess the enablers to achieve growth with a marginal increase of input resources. We do that by continuously building up our understanding about performance, commitment, the role of the leadership and the continuous development of our professionals.

Over the past five years, ADMA-OPCO has developed a culture of strong performance through the proper execution and management of mega projects. For this reason, ADMA-OPCO has grown into a modern world-class organization and forms an integral part of the ADNOC conglomerate.

What challenges are you facing in reaching your objective of 1 million bpd by 2020?

As an established company, our challenges are rather diverse. On the one hand, we have to focus on maintaining our aging facilities. On the other hand, we are also experiencing a renewed growth era, if you like, through our expansion activities. Hence, we are at a cross roads where we would like to pay careful attention to both these aspects and manage the associated changes of both.

We aim to be resilient in managing old facilities in terms of asset integrity management and maintenance and continue to demonstrate a leading performance among offshore companies. After all, this is a unique situation where we are operating an established infrastructure while keeping the number of accidents to a bare minimum. This is a result of our highly proactive approach to asset integrity management and maintenance while utilizing the entire supply chain of the industry to support us.

At the same time, ADMA-OPCO is experiencing strong growth levels and this is a challenge in itself. Needless to say, we would like to build the new fields according to the highest standards and latest technologies; from automation and design, to structure orientation and beyond. This of course involves the expansion of activities. We have to manage a range of diverse and also interrelated activities all at once. These also introduce the challenges related to human resource availability, management and training.

This is another reason why we are committed to continuously monitoring and adapting the culture of the organization. We aim to have in place the appropriate leadership style that will allow us to be well aligned to manage these mega-projects.

To what extent is ADMA-OPCO committed to sustainable development and the preservation of the UAE’s marine environment?

As you may know, prior to the discovery of hydrocarbons, pearling and fishing were the mainstays of the UAE’s simple economy. As such, environmental conservation is an inherent aspect of ADMA-OPCO’s culture.

Being a socially responsible organization, we have a pro-active approach to environmental conservation and protection. The company is strongly committed to minimizing the impact of its activities on the environment. Its HSE policy formally recognizes this with its commitment to preventing pollution and protecting the environment while also supporting energy conservation. In part, this is why you can still spot dolphins swimming around many of our installations like at Umm Shief field.

In the case of actual or potential impacts from routine and accidental events, ADMA-OPCO has environmental management programs to remove the risk where possible or if not, to minimize the risk to as low as reasonably practical.

For new projects, Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) are carried out for each phase of the project lifecycle. The EIAs are carried out by independent consultants and are based on ADNOC’s codes of practice. The ADNOC HSE Committee reviews each EIA for approval or amendment and the EIA recommendations become project action lists.

This is part of the company’s drive to design our environmental risk right from the conceptual stage of new projects through the implementation of best available practices. ADMA-OPCO also pursues a zero-gas flaring policy and is doing an excellent job in this regard. For example, the company reduced flaring by more than 90% over the past decade while zero flaring in normal operations is practiced throughout the company.

ADMA-OPCO is therefore a responsible organization and I personally believe in that in the simplest sense of the word; response and ability. In other words, it is about improving our response time and capabilities in order to tackle any undesired effects.

How would you describe the business opportunities the UAE can currently offer?

Again, I believe that the UAE is undergoing a golden era of opportunities, particularly in the oil and gas industry. This is reflected in the expansion of most of the ADNOC Goup’s subsidiaries. This expansion creates an array of opportunities for technology transfer. Also, since our projects demand equipment from every corner of the world, this also presents opportunities for global scale collaboration. In turn, this also opens up many prospects for industry professionals to learn and make contributions to the development of the UAE. I therefore believe this is a crowning time for the UAE and the coming five years will be characterized by strong growth and abundant opportunities.

If I have to sum up our approach, it would be to do it right and to do it with the latest technology while fostering innovation and the creation of value.

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