WE HAVE A PLAN

Kuwait 2016 | ENERGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Sara Akbar, CEO of Kuwait Energy, on the objectives of the company, how it helps develop strategic plans, and opportunities in the region.

Sara Akbar
BIOGRAPHY
Sara Akbar is CEO and co-founder of Kuwait Energy, one of the few successful independent oil and gas exploration and production companies in the Middle East. With a BSc in Chemical Engineering from Kuwait University, Sara began her career as a petroleum engineer with Kuwait Oil Company in 1991 and moved up to several positions before joining KUFPEC as Business Development Manager in 1999. In 2005, Sara co-established Kuwait Energy. Her distinguished achievements in the oil industry won her the international Charles F. Rand Memorial Gold Medal in 2013. Other awards include 2009’s Leader in Energy, recognizing her as the leading woman in the Middle East’s oil and gas industry. Sara Akbar is the only member from the Middle East in the international C200 committee of women CEOs.

What are the primary objectives of Kuwait Energy and how would you describe its investment strategy in the region?

Kuwait Energy aims to become the preeminent Middle East-based independent oil and gas company. It hopes to develop and manage oil and gas assets in the interest of our stakeholders. Our strategy is simple: to leverage our technical expertise, local knowledge, and solid relationships to enhance our operations in the region and always ensuring that we have a win-win relationship with the host government. When it comes to operations, we actively manage and operate our assets while prudently managing financial risk through a conservative capital structure. Our knowledge of the Middle East, and operational experience in the region, enable us to have an advantage in terms of operational planning, project execution and risk management.

Could you talk about the unique access Kuwait Energy has through its strong relations with national oil and gas companies and local governments in the region?

We provide valuable technical expertise, advice, and assistance to the national oil and gas companies and local governments on oil and gas projects that are important to these countries' economic development. In Yemen, we have been working closely with the Yemen Ministry of Oil and Minerals, studying the potential development of natural gas reserves in Yemen and the optimization of the country's natural gas resources for the benefit of its people, while developing a long-term Yemen Gas Master Plan. We advise the Ministry on the most suitable uses and applications for the country's gas resources in order to ensure production sustainability and maximize revenue generation and job creation. As for Egypt, we acted as the catalyst behind the recent agreement with the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) from which it gained a 10% participating interest in Block 9, Iraq. This is EGPC's first international investment and contributed to building an economic relationship between Iraq and Egypt. We go beyond business and operations when it comes to our relationships with local governments, and become their support in difficult times. For example in Egypt, during the revolution in 2011, we were more understanding of the country's tough financial circumstances, and ensured that we support the country during those tough times. This was received favorably by the EGPC, as we proved that one of our main goals as a company is to become true partners in the economic development of the countries where we work. In Iraq, we support the local government by providing relief aid to the internally displaced people (IDP) that have moved to the Basra region. In December 2014, we provided complete relief aid to the IDPs in Basra and during Ramadan we provided food bags to 2,500 families.

What growth opportunities do you see for oil and gas development in the MENA region?

Currently, we have large-scale projects in Iraq: the Siba gas project and Block 9, located in Southern Iraq. In accordance with our plans, we are allocating great effort and finances to fast-track the projects and bring them to existing infrastructure to ramp up and accelerate our production in Iraq in the near term. Once we bring more production on stream, the time will be right to go and target our next growth opportunity to create further value for stakeholders.