IMPROVED METHODS

Abu Dhabi 2019 | ENERGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hatem Nuseibeh, President of Total E&P UAE & Group Representative Total, on its clean energy strategy, the latest technologies, and Emiratization.

Hatem Nuseibeh

How important are your renewable and non-oil energy projects?

Abu Dhabi's strategy to have 27% of its energy coming from clean sources by 2021 runs parallel with our objectives at Total. We are working along the same path, though we may differ slightly in our execution. In solar energy, for example, we have a certain approach; however, our photovoltaic (PV) sales are more affected by the American market, as we cannot match the prices it offers at the moment. We are exploring a different approach and will remain and increase our presence here in everything. Non-oil is also important. We have the Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company (ADMA-OPCO) concession (now ADNOC Offshore) that ended in March 2018, and we are in discussions for the new concession for the next 40 years. If we look at global demand for energy in the next 50 years, we will need renewables; however, we will also need the traditional energies, and here the advantage is that oil production in the UAE is a low-cost traditional energy compared to other parts of the world.

How ambitious are Abu Dhabi's enhanced oil recovery (EOR) targets?

From an engineering perspective, the targets are not overly ambitious. I have a great deal of experience as a reservoir engineer, and the fact that there are supposedly 100 barrels available, but only 40-50 can be extracted, is troubling. If there are 100 barrels there, I want to get the maximum. When people call the 70% target ambitious, this is just a matter of price and economics. Perhaps at USD50 per barrel one does not have the same recovery rate as at USD60 and perhaps what is too expensive at USD60 in 10 years' time will be economically viable at USD30.

How will the new technologies you are developing impact your operations and the sector at large?

We have tried to bring in the latest technologies at Total and implement them here. There were five projects that all brought about a new way of doing things, whether it is the new way of doing seismic monitoring, autonomous robots, studying carbonate reservoirs, quantum data, or alternative logging. All these technologies provide improved methods, such as seismic monitoring with balloons and drones, which allow us to interpret data live and more accurately and effectively. We have to adapt to what is happening in the world and use it to improve the way we work, which is what Total does.
How would you assess the progress of Emiratization in the energy sector?
We are active in this area and are looking at how to make our R&D effort more efficient in this country in terms of human capacity building. We are deeply involved in this, and our Total Academy is now integrated with the ADNOC Academy. We are helping to reorganize it in such a way that we not only train engineers but also technicians at all levels to improve Emiratization.

What are Total's main objectives in 2018?

We are in discussions with ADNOC but are not the only people doing so, as there are many players in the field. The concessions will end in March, and ADNOC told us it will finalize things before that date. We are confident in ADNOC's capabilities and are doing whatever is needed to ensure we are involved in the new concession. I came here for the renewal of ADCO and ADMA; we have done ADCO and ADMA onshore and now need to do the offshore. It would be great to expand our cooperation beyond simply offshore as ADNOC wants to form more strategic partnerships that cover more subjects than purely upstream, downstream, or trading.