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ADNOC awards Japan's Inpex onshore exploration block for $176 mil

Dubai — State-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company awarded Japan's Inpex Corporation a concession to explore in one of its onshore blocks, ADNOC said Sunday in an emailed statement.

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Inpex can explore onshore block 4 in Abu Dhabi under a concession that will last for 35 years, ADNOC said. Inpex will invest Dirhams 646 million ($176 million) during the exploration phase, and the deal has already been approved by Abu Dhabi's Supreme Petroleum Council, a necessary administrative step for this type of deal in the emirate.

"Today's agreement, following a competitive bid round, extends that long-standing partnership between one of the world's leading oil and gas resource holding countries and the third largest global economy, and represents an attractive and strategic opportunity for both parties that will deliver mutual benefits," ADNOC CEO Sultan Al Jaber said.

Inpex holds a 100% stake in the exploration phase of the block, while it will have the opportunity to develop and produce following commercial discovery. ADNOC will retain the right for up to a 60% stake in the production phase.

In the new concession area are two existing "undeveloped" oil and gas fields: Ramham and Hudririat. As part of the concession, Inpex will appraise the fields. Inpex will also contribute financially and technologically to ADNOC's seismic surveys of the block.

"Inpex positions Abu Dhabi as one of its core business areas, and we look forward to working in close cooperation with ADNOC to help it unlock value from Abu Dhabi's substantial hydrocarbon resources while further expanding and strengthening our own business portfolio," Inpex's president and CEO, Takayuki Ueda, said.

ADNOC has already awarded a number of blocks to international investors in its first exploration round, including Italy's Eni and US-based Occidental Petroleum.

ADNOC has a strategic interest in building closer ties to the East as it looks to boost output. Asia is the largest oil and gas consuming region in the world and Japan also consumes around 25% of the UAE's crude exports.

Over 60% of the offshore concessions held by Japanese companies in Abu Dhabi were set to expire in March last year. But Inpex last year was awarded a 10% stake in Abu Dhabi's offshore Lower Zakum oil field concession for 40 years and concluded a 25-year extension to the Satah and Umm al-Dalkh fields offshore Abu Dhabi, where it holds a 40% stake in each, supporting Japan's continued presence in the UAE.

Last month, ADNOC also signed a framework oil and gas agreement with state-owned companies Korea Gas Corporation and Korea National Oil Company and Korean independent GS Energy to cover E&P, downstream investments, and oil storage and LNG bunkering opportunities.

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

-- Edited by Geetha Narayanasamy, newsdesk@spglobal.com