ADIPEC 2017: Transformation fully in motion

As in previous years, the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC) 2017 brought together oil and gas stakeholders from around the world.

Around 2,200 companies and stakeholders exhibited at ADIPEC 2017, which was attended by approximately 100,000 oil and gas professionals.
Around 2,200 companies and stakeholders exhibited at ADIPEC 2017, which was attended by approximately 100,000 oil and gas professionals.

The region’s energy industry is replacing traditional ways of doing business with measures that are aligned with the ambitious national agendas of regional governments. With concerted efforts by OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers to reduce output in a bid to boost crude oil prices bearing fruit, Brent crude has been consistently trading comfortably above the much-desired $60 a barrel mark in recent weeks.

Despite this, however, national oil companies (NOCs), international oil companies (IOCs), and the larger supplier base have not compromised on their operational excellence initiatives, and are leading the sector into an era where business is not solely reliant on the vagaries of oil prices.

True to its theme of focusing on the future, the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC) last month was an event where concepts of tomorrow – such as automating operational functions and managing assets digitally – featured heavily. Around 100,000 oil and gas professionals gathered in Abu Dhabi for the mega event between 13 and 16 November and witnessed products, services, technologies, and processes that were set to alter the course of the industry, exhibited by the approximately 2,200 participating companies and stakeholders, which originated from around 125 countries.

Dominant energy industry trends such as digitalisation, enhanced oil recovery (EOR), mergers and acquisitions, value optimisation, localisation, skills and training, business diversification, and supply-chain improvement formed the core narrative of ADIPEC, and were discussed and analysed during the almost 190 conferences and seminars led by more than 900 senior ministers, C-suite executives, and influential international energy players. The technical and business forums were attended by around 10,000 industry professionals.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), being the chief patron of ADIPEC each year, announced during the 20th edition of the event several pivotal decisions set to elevate the Emirati giant as a key global energy major, as part of the wave of transformation sweeping the regional oil and gas industry. In his keynote address on the opening day of ADIPEC, Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and ADNOC Group CEO, affirmed ADNOC’s intention to issue the first initial public offering (IPO) of one of its subsidiary companies.

Also speaking during the inauguration ceremony, Suhail Mohammad Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy, said: “I think [2018] is going to be a very strong recovery year, and we will see more investments coming to the region.”

Mohammed Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, emphasised ADIPEC’s role in facilitating discussion and collaboration within the global oil and gas industry, and as a showcase for technical innovation. He said the power of cooperation had been essential to the efforts of both OPEC and non-OPEC nations to restore confidence in oil markets during the past year. “We are confident that the oil industry, and indeed the global economy, are pivoting, and the market is rebalancing at an accelerating pace, and stability is returning.”

ADIPEC’s scope this year was expanded to include the oil and gas industry’s downstream sector for the first time, including refining and non-fuel processing such as petrochemicals, reflecting the increasingly diversified operations of NOCs and IOCs as they move to generate revenue from multiple layers of the energy value chain.

Women at the forefront

ADIPEC highlighted the growing importance of women in the oil and gas workforce, with industry role models leading the Women in Energy conference, which was attended by more than 200 delegates and offered a full day of discussions aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion within the global oil and gas industry.

In the conference’s keynote address, former US ambassador to the UAE, and now president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, Marcelle M Wahba, said many industries continued to have a built-in bias that men were better suited to certain roles. “This is the glass ceiling that women contend with in male-dominated professions or industries,” Wahba said. “When it comes to glass ceilings, I understand that there’s none tougher to crack than the one that women face in the oil and gas industry.” 

Women in Energy included an emphasis on supporting a new generation of female professionals seeking careers in scientific or technical roles. Research by the Boston Consulting Group, for the World Petroleum Council, has found that fewer than a fifth of oil and gas workers are female. The disparity is particularly acute in offshore and marine, refining, and petrochemicals, in which women hold just 15% of entry-level technical and field positions. By comparison, female graduates hold half of entry-level office and business-support positions.

Wahba added: “The UAE leadership has for decades championed women’s issues, from education to employment, and everything in between. 

“The progress is visible [...], not only for this part of the world, but globally. I believe the role of women in the UAE demonstrates the progressive vision of this society and its leaders.”

Nurturing future leaders

Held under the patronage of HE Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Young ADIPEC, the annual youth outreach initiative by the organiser of ADIPEC, continued its work to promote the energy sector as a fulfilling career choice for young Emiratis, hosting around 400 students from 17 schools for the 2017 edition.

In his opening address to the Young ADIPEC Forum, Sheikh Nahyan emphasised that the programme had been designed in partnership with Khalifa University of Science and Technology and the Petroleum Institute, and noted the importance of the transition towards renewable energy. 

He added: “We know that we need intelligent, creative, and hard-working young technicians, engineers, scientists, and mathematicians. We need qualified people [...], right now, and for the foreseeable future. The UAE needs [young talent] in the oil and gas industry.”

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