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ADNOC awards oil search deals, eyes second auction

Abu Dhabi — Abu Dhabi announced Saturday the award of two exploration licenses for oil and gas prospects as it seeks to increase its resource base to meet future demand.

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The emirate's state-owned producer ADNOC handed concessions to explore for hydrocarbons in two offshore blocks to Eni and PTT Exploration and Production, Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive of ADNOC, told delegates attending the Atlantic Council Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi.

Related article - OPEC Dec crude oil output falls to six-month low of 32.43 mil b/d: Platts survey

Al Jaber said the licenses were part of a wider strategy to "increase oil and gas capacity."

Abu Dhabi intends to boost its oil production capacity to 4 million b/d by the end of 2020, rising to 5 million b/d by 2030, under plans recently approved by the Supreme Petroleum Council.

The emirate is investing in new capacity and pushing forward with its search for resources despite volatile oil prices and OPEC's recent pledge to cut output by 1.2 million b/d in partnership with allies including Russia. Brent crude has rebounded to levels around $61/b after plummeting briefly below $50/b at the end of 2018.

Al Jaber said all winning bids in the emirate's first licensing round in decades will be announced by the end of March. Total investment by Eni and PTT will comprise a minimum of Emirati Dirhams 844 million ($230 million), according a statement from ADNOC. Following a successful commercial discovery, ADNOC will have an option to take on a 60% stake in production, the company said.

ADNOC's head of upstream, Abdulmunim Saif al-Kindy, said last week the company would be considering a second licensing round in the future.

--Andy Critchlow, andrew.critchlow@spglobal.com

--Miriam Malek, miriam.malek@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jonathan Fox, newsdesk@spglobal.com