Oil & Gas Middle East Power 50 2017: 1-10

Oil & Gas Middle East presents its annual list of the upstream sector's most influential figures

Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO, ADNOC
Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO, ADNOC
Amin H. Nasser, President and CEO, Saudi Aramco
Amin H. Nasser, President and CEO, Saudi Aramco
Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, President and CEO, Qatar Petroleum
Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, President and CEO, Qatar Petroleum
Raoul Restucci, Managing Director, Petroleum Development Oman
Raoul Restucci, Managing Director, Petroleum Development Oman
Patrick Pouyanné, Chief Executive Officer, Total
Patrick Pouyanné, Chief Executive Officer, Total
Ali Kardor, Managing Director, NIOC
Ali Kardor, Managing Director, NIOC
Nizar Mohammad Al Adsani, CEO, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation
Nizar Mohammad Al Adsani, CEO, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation
Ben van Beurden, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell
Ben van Beurden, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell
Pete Bartlett, CEO, BAPCO
Pete Bartlett, CEO, BAPCO
Bob Dudley, CEO, BP
Bob Dudley, CEO, BP

01. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO, ADNOC

Rising to the top spot on the Power 50 list is Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). The chief executive officer has led transformation of the UAE major in the past 12 months, during which ADNOC has optimised operations and utilisation of resources, including the integration of a number of its subsidiary companies.

Al Jaber has also successfully overseen Abu Dhabi’s most prized asset during a cruel downturn in the oil and gas industry – a period during which ADNOC has maintained crude oil production (and even increased output at will), engaged in intense exploration and production (E&P) activity, managed its assets better, awarded tenders for new projects, and adopted (and sometimes even internally developed) advanced technologies and systems to modernise and bring about efficiency in operations.

Among the multiple achievements of Al Jaber’s leadership of ADNOC, it is perhaps the completion of the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO) concession sale that stands out as a highlight. Awarding of the 40% ADCO stake earmarked for foreign investments to a variety of IOCs, not just boosts Abu Dhabi’s relations with those countries but also secures ADNOC’s future production for the next four decades.

Al Jaber has also been instrumental in devising the storage reserve deal between the UAE and India, an agreement that not just strengthens relations between the two countries, but also gives ADNOC control of a strategic stockpile.

02. Amin H. Nasser, President and CEO, Saudi Aramco

The world’s largest oil and gas producing company continues to ride high on the magazine’s power list, on the basis of its clout and sway over the regional and global energy market.

Saudi Aramco, estimated to be worth $2tn, is presently preparing to sell a portion of its assets – a 5% stake which has the potential to dictate the course of the global oil industry, as well as take the financial market by storm. Amin H. Nasser, Aramco’s CEO and president, is at the forefront of it all.

While the Saudi giant is still considering various stock exchanges where an IPO – slated for H2 2018 – could be floated (reports suggest that multiple capital markets, both local and foreign, could host the share sale), Nasser has recently said, “There is a lot of work which is ongoing but everything is going as planned.”

Besides the stock listing, Aramco has been raising its profile as an organisation tasked with securing Saudi Arabia’s economic future – investing in energy assets and partnerships abroad, prioritising its In-Country Value strategy aligned to Saudi Vision 2030, boosting training and employment of the local workforce, and leading the initiative to help the Kingdom achieve a knowledge-based economy.

Being the KSA’s invaluable possession, Aramco is also playing a crucial and responsible role in stabilising crude oil prices, by reducing oil output to close to 10mn bpd, much lower than its actual production capacity, as part the OPEC/non-OPEC output reduction agreement.

03. Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, President and CEO, Qatar Petroleum

Perhaps one of the biggest integrations of state-owned energy assets, in the current wave of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), has been planned by Qatar Petroleum. The Qatari major, late last year, announced the merger of two of its key gas producing companies – Qatargas and Rasgas – a move that QP CEO Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi has estimated to be completed later this year, effectively putting him in charge of expanding the portfolio of an already mammoth organisation.

Qatar Petroleum has already overtaken Russia’s Rosneft and America’s ExxonMobil in total gas output, as the company produces and sells more liquefied natural gas (LNG) than any other company.

In terms of upstream achievements, Qatar Petroleum last year partnered with French major Total, awarding the latter a 30% stake and retaining the larger 70% share of Al Shaheen oilfield, thereby cementing the prospect of continuous E&P activity in one of its core assets for the next 25 years.

Al-Kaabi has been efficiently leading QP’s ventures abroad. He has overseen the Qatari major’s successful bid to renew its exploration licence in resource-rich Moroccan waters, sealed an agreement with Abu Dhabi-based Dolphin Energy to supply more LNG to the UAE, joined an international consortium to build an LNG import facility in Pakistan, and had an exploration contract in Cyprus approved.

04. Raoul Restucci, Managing Director, Petroleum Development Oman

Rising a rank higher in this year’s Power 50 list is Raoul Restucci, managing director of Petroleum Development Oman (PDO). The Omani state-owned company has undertaken a successful operational excellence campaign, termed ‘Every Rial Counts’ according to Restucci, to make the organisation more cost-efficient.

As part of the strategy, PDO is targeting savings of around $3bn over a five-year period through cost optimisation, waste elimination and efficiency-driven initiatives, which include a programme of Contract Optimisation Reviews that PDO has adopted in collaboration with its sizable contracting and vendor communities.

With regards to upstream activity, PDO has awarded Kentz Overseas Company WLL, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin, a five-year commissioning support services framework agreement, under which Kentz will provide a variety of systems completions, commissioning and start-up service activities on a portfolio of PDO’s oil and gas megaprojects, including the Rabab Harweel Integrated Project and the Yibal Khuff Project.

Like every other socially responsible GCC NOC, PDO has also taken up the task of creating jobs in the Sultanate. It has announced a drive to create 50,000 jobs in the non-oil sector, and has signed 15 MoUs with several public and private entities. Along with the industry partners, PDO is sponsoring the vocational training of about 1,200 young Omanis.

05. Patrick Pouyanné, Chief Executive Officer, Total

Propelling himself to the fifth spot in the rankings this year is Patrick Pouyanné, CEO of French energy giant Total. The international oil company has significantly strengthened its upstream activities in the Middle East and North Africa region and has consolidated its status as arguably the most prosperous IOC to operate in the region, by virtue of a number of landmark ventures it has entered into in the last year.

Perhaps Total’s biggest achievement has been in Qatar, where it replaced incumbent operator Maersk Oil to win a 25-year contract from Qatar Petroleum to operate Al Shaheen – the world’s largest offshore oilfield. As part of the 30% stake agreement, Total, which as per Pouyanné will be investing a whopping sum of $2bn towards development of the project, will also form a company jointly with QP – the North Oil Co – that will begin operations in July this year.

In the region, Pouyanné has brilliantly balanced Total’s business interests in the conflicting states of Qatar and Iran – leading the company to become one of the earliest international majors to resume work in or enter the Islamic Republic post the lifting of economic sanctions last year. Recent reports suggest that Total is seeking a 50% stake in a $4bn-worth project in Iran’s giant South Pars gas field, apart from looking to buy a multi-billion dollar stake in an LNG export facility. Total is also eyeing investment in Abu Dhabi’s energy assets.

06. Ali Kardor, Managing Director, NIOC

Post-sanctions Iran is emerging from commercial isolation and is aggressively pursuing its economic ambitions, particularly in the oil and gas market. The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) lies right at the centre of this campaign and Ali Kardor is leading the charge. The 62-year-old executive has been serving at NIOC since 1984 and was promoted in June last year from being the finance director to succeed Roknoddin Javadi as the managing director.

Under his watch, the NIOC has been growing in leaps and bounds – the company has significantly raised oil production, with output presently at around 3.9mn bpd. Kardor has recently said that output from NIOC’s key assets in Azar, South Azadegan and Yaran Oilfields will soon increase by 15,000, 45,000 and 10,000 bpd respectively and moreover has announced initial production from the huge South Pars offshore field, from which output is touted to grow to 35,000 bpd soon.

More importantly, with Kardor at the helm, the NIOC has been actively exploring for reserves within the country, inviting and partnering with key IOCs, and increasing exports to long-time customers and winning new ones. While Iran hopes to raise its oil exports to customers in Europe to 800,000 bpd within the coming months, it has recently unseated Iraq to become the No.2 oil supplier to the vast consumer market of India. It is likely that Kardor will utilise the Iran Petroleum Contracts (IPC) as an instrument to lead the NIOC into collaborations with more Asian and European oil and gas majors to develop the upstream sector at home.

07. Nizar Mohammad Al Adsani, CEO, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation

With chief executive officer Nizar Mohammad Al Adsani at the helm of affairs since 2013, the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) – with vital companies such as the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) and the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) as assets – has consolidated its position as not just a major NOC in the Gulf, but also as a key player in the regional oil and gas industry.

Kuwait consumes about 1bn cubic feet per day of natural gas, of which 60% is used for downstream operations and the rest for power generation. With Kuwaiti domestic demand for gas expected to increase significantly in the coming years, KPC has embarked on a plan to focus on increasing domestic gas production to feed the rising need for power.

“Our plan to meet such high demand is to develop newly discovered, deep and naturally fractured reserves. Currently our non-associated gas production is only 130mn cubic feet per day,” Al Adsani, an alumni of the South Dakota State University in the US, who began his career as a mechanical engineer at the Kuwait Oil Company in 1984, recently said.

As part of the plan, the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation last year signed a framework agreement with BP to explore possible joint opportunities for investment and cooperation in future oil, gas, trading and petrochemicals ventures – a deal that has helped implement advanced technology used by an IOC into Kuwait’s upstream assets.

08. Ben van Beurden, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell

Ben Van Beurden has been in the news recently due to media reports that suggested that his total pay in 2016 soared by 60% on the back of deferred bonus and share payments – effectively making him one of the highest paid global oil and gas industry executive. But the Royal Dutch Shell CEO’s remuneration underlines his efforts to consolidate the Anglo-Dutch energy giant’s position in the global oil and gas market.

Van Beurden’s excellent corporate strategy sealed Shell’s $70bn acquisition of BG Group last year. Following the pivotal acquisition, Shell has turned its attention to restructuring its business and focussing on existing assets. Shell still enjoys a formidable position in the Middle East – largely due to its 34% stake in Petroleum Development Oman, despite the IOC’s much talked about exit from ADNOC’s $10bn-worth Bab sour gas field project in Abu Dhabi and its decision against renewing its stake in the ADCO concession. It is also be worth noting that Van Beurden has not ruled out a return to the Abu Dhabi market in future.

Shell is ardently exploring opportunities in Iran and has become one of the 29 pre-qualified companies that will be allowed to bid for upstream contracts. It has signed an MoU to study the South Azadegan and Yadavaran fields, in addition to the Kish gas field. Shell’s presence in Iran before sanctions will put it in a favourable position if it decides to bid for some of the fields. In Iraq, Shell is heavily involved in the country’s gas sector and holds a 44% stake in the Basrah Gas Company, as part of a 25-year joint venture that began in 2013.

09. Pete Bartlett, CEO, BAPCO

The Kingdom of Bahrain may well be positioning its energy industry to lean towards the downstream segment, but sitting on considerable reserves of heavy oil makes the Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO) an important player in the GCC oil and gas market. The first oil well in the Gulf region was spudded in Bahrain in 1931, and the kingdom begun exporting oil just three years later.

Overcoming the challenges associated with leveraging the complex – but invaluable – energy resource of heavy oil will depend on the industry’s ability to develop commercially viable recovery solutions, BAPCO chief executive Peter Bartlett has recently said in a statement that echoes how he intends to direct the company’s future in the upstream segment.

“Fossil fuels will continue to account for the majority of the world’s primary energy needs for the next few decades, and heavy oil will feature in that mix. In order to compete, though, heavy oil producers will have to overcome cost challenges versus commercially competitive alternatives. They will innovate in order to do so,” Bartlett has been quoted as saying. “At BAPCO, we consider heavy oil in the mix of feedstocks we purchase for our refinery.”

BAPCO, under Bartlett’s leadership, has been largely successful in meeting the growing energy needs of Bahrain. The expansion of its Sitra refinery is perhaps a key move that will enable BAPCO to achieve self-sufficiency. Once complete, the refinery is expected to increase its capacity to 360,000 bpd. BAPCO has also undertaken a project to replace and reroute the 72-year-old Arabia-Bahrain pipeline.

10. Bob Dudley, CEO, BP

Bob Dudley has been in his post since 2010, witnessing the high peaks of oil prices in 2014 as well as the slump that followed. Having experienced the full cycle of the volatile market, his main aim of late has been to return BP to growth amid the new market conditions. Like other oil majors, the company has gone through a tough year, but Dudley kept it real and didn’t hesitate to start cutting costs to get the oil major back on its feet. In a recent statement, the company announced that it will need a crude price of about $40/b in 2021 to cover spending.

Oil & Gas Middle East Power 50 2017: 11-20

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