The power 50 : 1 - 10

The 50 most powerful people in Middle East Oil & Gas

The power 50, Industry Trends
Abdulla Nasser Al Suwaidi, Director General of the ADNOC Group.
Abdulla Nasser Al Suwaidi, Director General of the ADNOC Group.

Hussain Al-Sharistani
Deputy Prime Minister

The softly-spoken State of Law party member and ex nuclear scientist Hussain al-Sharistani is responsible for the fastest-growing – and potentially largest – hydrocarbons industry on earth, which one day may replace Saudi Arabia as the world’s swing producer of oil.

The US Energy Information Administration says that Iraq will add 5 million barrels a day of production capacity by 2020, more than any other country. Iraq’s oil and gas industry is to receive over $200 billion of foreign direct investment in the next six years.

Sharistani drafted the first incarnation of Iraq’s infamous oil laws. As the drafts stymied, he forged Baghdad’s obdurate attitude to Kurdistan’s production sharing contracts, one that survives to this day. It remains the single largest impediment to the development of Iraq’s oil industry.

The news that ExxonMobil has breached Baghdad’s blacklist policy by signing six production deals with the KRG (page 6) may change all that. How Sharistani reacts to Exxon’s decision will affect Iraq’s oil industry and economic development profoundly.

The early signs are not encouraging, with the deputy prime minister telling Bloomberg the government is considering sanctions against the Texan oil giant, a seemingly self-defeating move, and his deputies announcing that Exxon may be struck off the list of approved bidders for the fourth round of exploration contracts.

Sharistani must now be seen to discipline Exxon without unduly derailing the development of West Qurna 1, the field the firm operates.

Ali bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi
Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources
Saudi Arabia

A few words from Ali Al-Naimi can move global oil markets. The Saudi Oil Minister commands the largest volume of spare oil producing capacity in the world. Whoever chairs OPEC, it’s Saudi Arabia – via Al-Naimi – which calls the shots.

Al-Naimi is deeply respected for his broad and deep industry knowledge, having worked his way up the ranks in Saudi Aramco.

As CEO he improved Aramco’s efficiency and maintained the company’s exclusive proprietary rights to the country’s oil, even when low prices and the need to invest heavily in new Saudi engineering talent made the approaches of supermajors tempting.

Al-Naimi had to call on all his experience in 2008, when oilprices hit $147 a barrel, before crashing to $30.

In June, he reasserted Saudi Arabia’s clout in managing global oil prices. Faced with a global supply squeeze in the second half of 2011 – which, it transpired, did not occur – he branded the OPEC session that month “one of the worst meetings we’ve have ever had” and declared the Kingdom was ready to pump whatever international markets needed.

Al-Naimi’s next challenge comes on 14 December when he must once against face off with Iran in Vienna, with Tehran demanding a cut Saudi will seek to resist.

Abdulla Nasser al-Suwaidi
Director General, ADNOC
United Arab Emirates

In June, Abdulla Nasser al-Suwaidi was appointed Director General of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nayan, President of the United Arab Emirates.

Al-Suwaidi has been appointed at a crucial time for ADNOC, as it looks to renegotiate long-running key contracts with supermajors operating its major onshore oil fields.

ExxonMobil, Shell and Total are among companies seeking to extend contracts for producing oil in Abu Dhabi, holder of more than 90 percent of the oil reserves in the U.A.E.

The sheikhdom is planning to spend as much as $60 billion over the next decade to expand its oil and gas industry, including boosting crude production capacity to 3.5 million barrels a day from about 2.8 million now.

ADNOC is also overseeing the development of Abu Dhabi’s offshore oil fields, inclusing the innovative Upper Zakum project, where artificial islands are being used to drill wells, instead of using more expensive offshore platforms.

Khalid Al-Falih
President and CEO
Saudi Arabia

Khalid Al-Falih has held the top spot at the largest and most profitable company in the world since January 2009, with a workforce of around 60,000, crude oil reserves of 260 billion barrels of oil and revenues of between $2 and $7 trillion in 2010.

Under Al-Falih’s stewardship, Aramco has been turning its attention downstream and to gas.

The shift is part of the Accelerated Transfer Program, an ambitious scheme - even by Aramco’s standards - which aims to make Aramco the world’s largest integrated energy company, Al-Falih is keen for Aramco to capture more of the hydrocarbon value chain, and sees Saudi Arabia as a future petrochemicals and refining hub for key Asian markets as the shift of global hydrocarbon supply and demand power changes.

Aramco has been changing its priorities in response to the advent of unconventional exploration, halting further investment in more production capacity. The NOC is also looking to expand internationally. Al-Falih also sits on the influential Supreme Council of Petroleum and Mineral Affairs in KSA.

Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada
Chairman and Managing Director
Qatar Petroleum

Qatar’s Minister of Energy & Industry, Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Sada, manages the asset which gives Qatar its burgeoning regional influence and has been key in leading the global tilt from oil to gas.

Al-Sada brings 25 years’ experience with Qatar Petroleum to the role. He is also the Managing Director of Qatar Petroleum and Chairman of Tasweeq, Qatar’s state-backed petroleum marketing company. Prior to his cabinet appointment and since August 2006, Al-Sada was the Managing Director of RasGas and its subsidiaries.

Al-Sada, who was educated in Manchester, England, has pushed Qatar beyond LNG sales to innovative projects, and has managed the state’s change in export strategy with the advent of the shale gas revolution in the USA.

Ashti Hawrami
Natural Resources Minister
Kurdish Regional Government

Ashti Hawrami recently made a triumphant declaration at the Kurdistan-Iraq conference: ExxonMobil had signed production sharing contracts (PSCs) for six exploration blocks.

The move is the culmination of years of astute political positioning in relation to Baghdad in order to secure investment and political and commercial safety for the nascent Kurdish oil industry. A couple of months ahead of the Exxon announcement, the KRG published all the PSCs it has signed online.

The Exxon deal may be the catalyst for a resolution of the legal and political problems dogging the region’s progress, or it may set back political progress in resolving the problems afflicting the last great oil frontier on earth.

Hawrami’s department presides over the Kurdish region’s estimated 45 billion barrels of oil, which has only just begun to be tapped by a range of independents.

His next challenge will be to maintain the government’s central position as investment drives the region’s era of consolidation.

Abdul Munim Saif Al-Kindy

The man at the head of over 60% of Abu Dhabi’s oil production is primed to have an interesting year, as the long-standing agreement it has with Shell, BP, Total, ExxonMobil and Partex for the development of the Emirate’s onshore fields comes up for renegotiation.

Current terms are understood to be some of the toughest in the GCC, with foreign partners paid about $1 for each barrel of crude pumped in Abu Dhabi, from which they are expected to cover their costs.

The supermajors are keen to stay but nervous about the current level of remuneration and unsure of protections for their intellectual property which they are expected to share.

As the exploitation of the emirate’s onshore oil and gas reserves becomes more complicated, Al-Kindy will need to balance the need to provide suitable incentives to his international partners with a keen eye on Abu Dhabi’s bottom line.

ADCO has been a key part of Abu Dhabi’s massive investment program, with nearly US$1.5 billion into its Phase 1 Development Programme, which will add about 400,000 bpd to output. Al-Kindy skillfully negotiated EPC contracts for ADCO’s field development towards the bottom of the contracting market.

The company has also been pioneering CO2 injection techniques, which have freed up more of Abu Dhabi’s natural gas for use as feedstock for electricity generation.

Tony Hayward
Genel Energy

A year on from standing down from BP, after the largest oil spill in the company’s history in the Gulf of Mexico, Tony Hayward has got his life back.

Hayward has taken the reins at Genel Energy, a Turkish independent which backed into Hayward and Nat Rothschild’s Vallares cash vehicle on 8 September.

The deal netted Hayward US$22.9 million of shares in Genel, and puts Hayward at the head of what was – until the entry of ExxonMobil – the largest player in Kurdistan and its most ambitious independent, operating the Taq Taq field as part of the comapny’s 356 million barrels of proven and probable reserves.

The firm relisted on the London Stock Exchange on 21 November, and while the firm’s shares traded down on uncertainty over corporate governance arrangements and the ongoing spat between Erbil and Baghdad, Genel is set to hoover up more PSCs by buying smaller independents. Vallares raised $2.1 billion from investors and will be issuing the same again next year in Genel shares.

If successful the share issue will boost Genel’s capitalisation to over $4 billion. Hayward has made it plain he intends to leverage up the cash to fund a spate of consolidation in the region, and has recently identified Norwegian firm DNO as a target.

Ali Rashid Al-Jarwan

Ali Rashid Al-Jarwan is central to Abu Dhabi’s ambitious field development plans. The CEO of ADMA-OPCO, 60% owned by ADNOC, is planning to increase production capacity at Abu Dhabi’s offshore fields by 14.2% to 700,000 barrels per day by the end of 2014.

The Lower Zakum field is slated by Jawan to add 100,000 barrels per day to its current production capacity of 325,000 barrels per day by the end of 2012 through the use of water injection.

ADMA-OPCO is also developing two offshore oil fields — Umm Al Lulu and Nasr.

Abdullah Salem el-Badri
Secretary General

Abdullah el-Badri has not had an easy year. After a dysfunctional bi-annual meeting of the member countries on 8 June, which Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi branded the “worst meeting ever,” el-Badri had his work cut out reassuring markets that OPEC had not become irrelevant and derailed by animus between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

El-Badri led the charge against the International Energy Agency’s decision to put 60 million barrels of reserves, half of which from the US, onto international markets.

At OPEC’s next meeting on 14 December, el-Badri will have to manage Libya’s return to the export market, and smooth tensions between Iran and the Gulf states.


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