ALI AL JARWAN

Dubai 2020 | SUSTAINABILITY | INTERVIEW

Dragon Oil focuses on striking a balance between high-performance activities and profitability, which has helped it establish an excellent reputation in the sector.

Ali Al Jarwan
BIOGRAPHY

Ali Al Jarwan joined Dragon Oil in 2017 as managing director exploration and production & CEO. He has over three decades of leadership and technical experience in E&P. He earned a BSc in petroleum engineering from the University of Tulsa, an MBA from the International Institute of Management Development Switzerland, and a degree in general management from Cranfield School of Management in the UK. Al Jarwan held several leadership positions in the ADNOC group, among them CEO of Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company (ADMA-OPCO) from 2006 to 2016. He has chaired various conferences and has received several recognition awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.

Can you provide an overview of Dragon Oil and its core priorities?
Dragon Oil is an international oil and gas exploration, development, and production company. Our main business task is to ensure that we have cash positive bottom-line results. Change management has to be positive for Dragon Oil, especially in an industry like oil and gas, which is continuously transforming. Dragon Oil has a collaborative approach; we like to problem solve and create value through synergy and integration. We have significant operations in Turkmenistan with our principal producing asset at Cheleken, in the eastern section of the Caspian Sea. This was our first overseas base established 20 years ago. We are the 100% owner and operator of the concession jointly in the Cheleken oilfield with the government of Turkmenistan. Due to our success there, we have established an excellent reputation in the industry. We bring substantial technical competence to our operations. Wherever we operate, we always consider ourselves strategic partners of the government and the country.

What are some of the important technologies that you are exploring?
The complexities of some of our operating environments mean that innovative technologies have excellent use cases. We have already applied AI to the Cheleken field, where, owing to the structural dynamics of some of these floating assets, we have seen several notable benefits. Much of the data gathered helps us to uncover efficiencies. Machine learning allows us to increase the accuracy of prediction through AI. This is a dual-pronged approach, as we depend on machine learning, and grow in parallel with this technology. Newer technologies such as smart field applications for automation will disrupt the sector even further, as they become more advanced, especially when we deploy methods of transferring data in real time both for drilling, production, and maintenance. As an organization, we strictly follow the major trends within technology. We want to remain current and not miss the pace of development. Company-wide, we have been training more of our workforce in technology disciplines that will be fundamental for the new energy era.

What does the overall global shift toward gas and renewable energy mean for Dragon Oil?
From an operational level, at this stage, we want to diversify our portfolio within energy to include more gas. Turkmenistan would be an excellent place to begin this. We can leverage on our current network and local industry knowledge to develop competencies in areas such as gas transportation, treatment options, gas to liquid, LPG and LNG, and petrochemicals. This would complement our existing oil and gas business. The energy mix is a journey, and it is up to the industry as a whole to improve the combination. Supply and demand dynamics will obviously feature heavily in the future. Gas will be the transitioning agent, as it is mobile and typically complies with international regulations. Clean energy is undoubtedly growing, and it will be interesting to see how much we can generate from solar and wind in the years ahead. However, it is also important to note that oil and gas will be a mainstay in the years ahead. In the Emirates, we are fortunate as we have not only an abundance of hydrocarbons but also remarkable solar potential.

What is your strategic vision for Dragon Oil over the next decade?
We aim to double our production; this will be our primary strategic objective for the next few years. Another of our goals is to develop the next generation of oil and gas professionals. Technology serves as a means to attract more young people to the industry, and technological adoption will also remain a priority for us over the next decade. Moreover, I see Dragon Oil becoming more active throughout its network. We are well established and can play a significant role in combining our efforts with our partners to develop greater efficiencies.