ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Oil major BP Plc (BP.L), shut out of pre-qualification bidding to develop Abu Dhabi’s largest onshore oil fields, is hopeful it can be included in the process and is waiting to hear soon on the issue, Chief Executive Bob Dudley said on Sunday.
“I’m positive about it ... I’m optimistic that cooperation will go on for a long time,” Dudley said on the sidelines of an oil and gas event in the UAE capital, adding that he hopes to hear about the concessions “in the next week or so”.
Industry sources had told Reuters in August that BP, which holds a 9.5 percent stake in the ADCO concession that is coming up for renewal in 2014, would not be allowed to participate in the pre-qualification process due to the United Arab Emirates’ irritation over UK policies.
“We never knew we were excluded and I think the spirit and the feeling of the communications that we have is positive and we have been talking at multiple levels on this,” Dudley said.
Asked if British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to the UAE last week had made a difference for BP’s future over the concessions, Dudley said: “I think David Cameron has been a great advocate for British business in general in a broad sense so it was good to see him here in Abu Dhabi.”
Cameron visited the UAE last week as part of a wider trade and diplomacy tour of the Gulf. Lucrative arms deals were a main topic of discussion, as well as British efforts to balance concerns over human rights issues in Gulf states, which have struggled to contain protests inspired by the Arab Spring.
Cameron’s visit came as oil majors operating in OPEC member UAE brace for a decision from Abu Dhabi on the oil and gas concessions.
The concessions system allows oil and gas producers to acquire equity in hydrocarbons from the OPEC member in return for investing in projects.
On Sunday, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co’s (ADNOC) director-general said ADNOC preferred to maintain the current structure of concessions in the United Arab Emirates and that it would present its recommendation to the Supreme Petroleum Council of Abu Dhabi (SPC) by early next year at the latest.
“It is our recommendation to have the same format. But this will be submitted to the SPC and they can decide if they want to change,” Abdulla Nasser Al-Suwaidi told reporters on the sidelines of an oil and gas conference. “Submission is going to be late this year or early next year.”
Some big oil companies, notably ExxonMobil (XOM.N), have expressed their discomfort about the concession structure. They are concerned about operating side by side with rivals in an ADNOC-controlled concession, with all partners expected to share their own technology.
The SPC is the highest authority responsible for the petroleum affairs in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which has the largest share of the UAE’s oil and ambitious plans to invest $60 billion over the next five years to boost oil production capacity to 3.5 million barrels per day (bpd), from 2.7 million.
Oil concessions which lie at the heart of these plans have been under the spotlight since early last year as the date for the renewal of the biggest field with 1.5 million bpd capacity approaches.
Writing by Humeyra Pamuk, Editing by Susan Fenton