Abu Dhabi 2016 | ENERGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hatem Nuseibeh, President of Total E&P UAE, Group Representative of Total, on going solar, working with government-owned companies, and its role in new energy projects.

Hatem Nuseibeh
Hatem Nuseibeh studied in the UK at Eton College and then earned a chemical engineering degree. He started his career in the oil and gas industry in 1976 as a Petroleum Engineer with ADCO, Abu Dhabi. He joined Total in 1980 as a Reservoir Engineer and has held a wide range of positions within the company. Since 1997 he has been appointed Managing Director in Total subsidiaries in Nigeria, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. He became Senior Technical Trainer in Indonesia in 1984 and then Head of the Reservoir Department at Total Abu Al Bukhoosh in 1987, where he later progressed to Petroleum Development Manager.

What is Total's involvement in the growing solar energy sector here in Abu Dhabi?

Total is a partner in Shams, the solar power plant operating in the UAE. We also have a partnership with Masdar with an office in Masdar City that covers both solar energy as well as research subjects. SunPower is our solar affiliate and is active both in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We want to expand our business here. I even have solar installed in my own home—this is not just a business for us, it is a belief. We are genuinely committed to better energy. There are two kinds of solar power projects: small household solar projects and major solar plants. SunPower produces the photovoltaic (PV) cells that are used in these large solar plants, and SunPower is the leader of that technology in the industry. It is efficient; more efficient than any competing technologies, and they last far longer. That also means they are more expensive than some of the competing technologies, and so households tend not to opt for these since they think more in terms of short-term costs. However, when it comes to solar power plants, people make long-term strategies and in that sense PV cell technology is ideal. We are also trying to work with Masdar outside of the UAE, looking at projects in other countries in the area.

The energy sector here is such that business must go through the government owned companies. How do you think that facilitates and impacts trade here?

The setup in the UAE is unique in comparison to other countries that I have worked in. They still have concessions in the UAE, whereas in most countries we are talking about production sharing agreements. There are two objectives for the UAE here, one is to maximize the reserves that they produce from the fields. In order to achieve that, they need to reach a win-win relationship with the IOCs in order to be able to use their technological know-how to meet their goals. This is why they set up these concessions rather than opt for production-sharing agreements, because in a concession you are more of a partner than a service contract like in production sharing agreements. In January, we won the tender for the ADCO concession, which will last 40 years starting in 2015. The new concession agreement is designed to ensure that there is maximum cooperation and involvement of the IOC, and cooperation between the IOC and the operating company, ADCO. People are very clever here, because we have managed to find a way to attract the IOCs while at the same time making sure that it is a mutually beneficial situation. To give you more detail, ADCO is divided into several assets of Bu Hasa, the Southeast, which is Asab, Sahil, Shabab, and North East Bab. In addition to being awarded 10% of the ADCO concession, we were nominated asset leader in Bu Hasa and the Southeast. Being asset leader requires more involvement on our part in these particular fields, so this is a significant project for us.

What will you be bringing to your projects as asset leader?

We are currently placing our people within the ADCO system, thereby connecting ADCO to the Total system. We will install a technical hub in ADCO, which will give ADCO access to all of Total's programs, expertise, and know-how. Therefore, ADCO will be able to use Total the same way any affiliate can. That means we are not separated anymore. We are not going to board meetings at ADCO to discuss things; we are directly integrated with access to each others' systems worldwide. It will not just have access to our system in the UAE, but to anything we do worldwide. It is a new type of agreement, a new system, and I believe it will be a major milestone in the relationship between IOCs and OCs.