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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is planning to expand production by 30 percent over the next five years despite low oil prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.

The UAE plans to use enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques at mature oil fields to realize a 30 percent production boost by 2020.

“EOR is an expensive process, and at current prices, these projects may not be economic. However, despite today’s low oil prices, the UAE continues to invest in future production,” the EIA said.

The country is relying on the implementation of new technology at maturing assets to raise production because the “prospects for further oil discoveries in the UAE are low,” the report added.

The UAE was the world’s sixth-largest oil producer in 2014 and was OPEC’s second-largest producer of petroleum and other liquids, with only Saudi Arabia pumping more petroleum.

The Upper Zakum oilfield is one of the areas being targeted for further development.

The field currently produces about 590,000 barrels per day, making it the second-largest offshore oilfield and fourth-largest oilfield in the world.

In July 2012, Abu Dhabi’s National Petroleum Construction Company won an $800 million engineering, procurement and construction contract to expand production at the Upper Zakum field to 750,000 bpd by 2016.

Production from the Lower Zakum field is also expected to rise, with oil production eventually reaching 425,000 bpd, from its current level of 345,000 bpd.

 

 

Image courtesy of the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Image courtesy of the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The country is also planning to expand natural gas production after becoming a net natural gas importer in 2008 despite its large reserves.

Enhanced oil recovery techniques have put a large dent in the country’s natural gas supplies.

The UAE re-injected about 30 percent of gross natural gas production in 2012 into its oil fields as part of its EOR techniques, the EIA said.

Although the country holds the world’s seventh-largest proved natural gas reserves those reserves are difficult to process because they have a relatively high sulfur content.

“Advances in technology and growing demand have made the UAE’s reserves an economic alternative to imports from Qatar, and UAE has several ongoing projects that will increase the country’s production in coming years,” the report said.

The UAE also plans to expand non-oil energy assets, in an attempt to reduce its reliance on natural gas for power.