The UAE boosted its crude oil production by nearly 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) to its highest ever level in December following the completion of a major maintenance programme, according to official data.
Output jumped to a record 2.742 million bpd in December after Abu Dhabi completed a three-week maintenance programme that shut down three of its largest oilfields in November.
Reporting its crude production level to the Riyadh-based Joint Oil Data Initiative, the Emirates said it pumped 2.742 million bpd in December compared to 2.070 million bpd in November and about 2.544 million bpd in October.
Oil industry sources said production in December was the UAE’s highest since it began pumping crude more than 40 years ago, adding that the surge was intended to make up for the sharp decline in November.
The UAE’s previous record output level was in May, when it produced about 2.65 million bpd, maintaining its position as the world’s sixth largest crude exporter.
“The production level in December was near capacity,” one source said.
“But I believe the UAE can sustain that output for a while because it has been undertaking major projects to maintain its present output capacity and add a few hundreds of thousands of barrels to the current capacity.”
The UAE has stated that such projects would lift its sustainable capacity to nearly three million bpd in the short term and more than four million in the long run.
Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which cited official figures, said the UAE has pumped nearly Dh55 billion into the oil sector between 2001 and 2007 while an estimated Dh80bn could be invested in the next five years.
A large part of the huge investment would be channelled into crude oil capacity expansions in the coming period.
Scheduled maintenance in late October and through November shut down three of Abu Dhabi’s largest oilfields – Lower Zakum, Upper Zakum and Umm Shaif.
The shutdown depressed the emirate’s crude output by nearly 500,000 bpd, including more than 280,000 from the giant offshore Lower Zakum field.
According to estimates by the London-based Centre for Global Energy Studies, the UAE’s sustainable oil output capacity has grown to well above 2.7 million bpd by the end of 2007 compared to about 2.5 million bpd two years ago. It has oil reserves of 97.8 billion barrels.
The UAE, a key member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), controls about 97.8 billion barrels of proven crude resources, the fifth largest in the world after those in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait.
The country’s gas wealth of nearly 6.5 trillion cubic feet is also the fifth after Russia, Iran, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.