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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao meets with UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi (Image courtesy of china.org.cn)

State-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has won a historic oil and gas development deal with Abu Dhabi, signaling an end to grip there by Royal Dutch Shell, BP and ExxonMobil.

Abu Dhabi holds about 98 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

It is the most influential sheikdom in the United Arab Emirates and a leading member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

For about four decades, Western countries have partnered with Abu Dhabi to develop its hydrocarbon resources.

“This is a very important deal for UAE and China relations,” Oliver Klaus a Dubai-based energy expert with Gulf Intelligence told the Telegraph. “It highlights the shift towards Asia by Abu Dhabi.”

President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan approved a law setting up the Al Yasat Company for Petroleum Operations (IOC), sources said Tuesday.

The new company will be held 60 percent by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and 40 percent by CNPC.

“Crucially, the deal will see an IOC gain access to both onshore and offshore concessions under one operating company in Abu Dhabi for the first time,” the Telegraph said.