FILLING THE TANKS

Ras Al Khaimah | ENERGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Nishant Dighe, CEO of RAK Gas, on new gas sources, exploration, and international partners.

Nishant Dighe
BIOGRAPHY
Nishant Dighe has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Imperial College, University of London, a master’s in petroleum engineering from the same institution, and an MBA from Warwick University. He has 23 years of experience in the oil and gas industry and is currently the CEO of RAK Gas, the oil and gas company of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

What is the position in Ras Al Khaimah regarding energy security?

When new companies come to Ras Al Khaimah, they appreciate the ease with which they can operate in a business-friendly and low-cost environment. There are some companies that are energy intensive—for some as much as 30% of their operating costs come from energy, so lowering the cost of energy will make Ras Al Khaimah even more attractive as an investment location. We already have a long-term contract with Dolphin Energy, and through this agreement, we have addressed the reliability of supply. We would, of course, also like to have a diversity of gas supply sources, and we are also pursuing that objective. On a separate front, we are also looking at the possibility of building a new liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) importation terminal, potentially establishing a joint venture for its importation. If implemented, the project would bring LPG into Ras Al Khaimah by ship, through an offshore unloading point. There is a good LPG market here in the UAE, and we know that our customers would appreciate LPG options.

Have there been any new gas discoveries in Ras Al Khaimah?

At present, we have no domestic production from within the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, but historically, we had the Saleh field that produced for many years. Exploration has also stopped over the last few years, as the oil price collapse resulted in companies with Ras Al Khaimah petroleum exploration licenses returning their exploration acreage to the government. Now, apart from one small exploration license operated by Sinochem, the rest of the Emirate is all open acreage.

How will RAK Gas find more gas supplies?

We recognize the need to rejuvenate exploration endeavors in Ras Al Khaimah, so in 2018 we are preparing for a license round, whereby oil companies are invited to come into Ras Al Khaimah and explore. Companies are welcome to look at all the technical data that we have, including the previous wells, seismic information, and any other data on hydrocarbon prospectivity. We have divided the offshore and the onshore acreage into different blocks, so companies can bid for the right to explore on the blocks. In conjunction with this, we have a new offshore seismic survey; therefore, any interested company will be able to use this new data to explore for oil and gas. We have some historical seismic data, but this new high quality, 3D seismic data is going to make a big difference in identifying prospects with enough confidence to encourage drilling. In order to attract high-quality international oil companies for exploration, we are also putting the right supporting legislation in place. A government body is being set up to administer the oil and gas sector. We are adopting best practices in terms of license-round processes and will have competitive terms for the oil companies entering the market. We will ensure that the share of the oil and gas that the oil companies receive under the exploration and production sharing agreements meets the requirements for a healthy return on their investment, whilst also creating an investment environment that is competitive with other countries. We have an oil and gas processing plant at Khor Khwair in Ras Al Khaimah that is capable of processing 150 million scf of gas per day. We also have existing offshore and onshore pipeline infrastructure. This is a big plus for oil companies interested in exploring, as our plant can process any oil and gas that is discovered, send the gas to an established market in Ras Al Khaimah, and export the oil to international markets through our oil export terminal.