Big U.S. energy firms have a strong presence in UAE’s oil and gas sector, with a market share of 51%, according to published data. The giant multinational Halliburton unveiled plans last March, to move its base to Dubai, one of the UAE's seven emirates. Halliburton, which was headed by U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney until 2000, said this move will take advantage of the Gulf region's vast oil and gas markets. The New York Times quotes Energy Intelligence Group analyst Susan Shook saying, “they are moving to the center of the Eurasian-African hemisphere and that’s where the bulk of the work is going to be in the future.”
According to the National U.S. Arab Chamber of Commerce publication, last June the U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Michele Sison, said, “with almost $12 billion in U.S. goods exported to the UAE in 2006, opportunities for American industry are virtually unlimited. Among the many sectors showing excellent promise are aircraft and parts, the oil and gas sectors, construction materials, safety and security equipment, medical equipment and project management and architectural and engineering services. “
The country’s current total oil production is around 2.8 million barrels per day, but in April 2007, the UAE’s Minister of Energy, Muhammad Bin Zain Al-Hamili, announced plans to increase production to 3.5 million barrels per day by 2009. Al-Hamili was also president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2007.
One of the more important energy investments planned for the UAE in the next few years will be by ExxonMobil, which along with ADNOC and the Japan Oil Development Company, plans to increase production from Abu Dhabi’s huge Upper Zakum oil field from 520,000 barrels a day to around 750,000 barrels. ExxonMobil is also establishing a Technology Center in Abu Dhabi to support and train personnel in the most advanced production technologies. Abu Dhabi Oil and Gas City, a $1 billion tax-free zone for the energy industry, will house offshore firms in such fields as engineering, project management, consulting and finance. Occidental Petroleum is also working on the Dolphin Project, a multi-billion dollar initiative to bring natural gas from Qatar to the UAE and Oman.
Given the UAE’s critical need for energy and power, the energy sector is a key area for investment. A vital component of this strategic relationship is maintaining an unhindered flow of oil and gas.
In his meeting with David Hamoud, chairman of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, ‘Salah Salim A-Shamsi, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry encouraged American companies to increase their investments in Abu Dhabi. A-Shamsi stressed the importance of allowing American companies an opportunity to enter the fields of engineering consultancy, oil services, and other fields and assured Hamoud that the UAE authorities would facilitate and pave the way in this regard.
Abu Dhabi, bloated with oil money, is eager to explore the clean energy sector, which will definitely represent new opportunities for U.S. clean-tech companies. The Masdar initiative has attracted both attention and skepticism due to the relatively simple fact that Abu Dhabi’s Masdar initiative to research and develop renewable energy sources seems odd coming from one of world’s leading oil exporters. Despite the criticism, Masdar is still pursing its goals and showing how serious it is. Thus, Masdar is partnering the most prominent U.S. companies, educational institutions, and investment firms. The Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (ADFEC), a government owned organization mandated to execute the Masdar Initiative, is open to new partnerships from all over the world.
Dr. Sultan Al-Jabir, CEO of Masdar, explained, "The world needs a portfolio of solutions, It can no longer be hydrocarbons or renewables. It is a combination of both." Since its commencement, Masdar gained momentum and support by participating in the Clinton Global Initiative on Energy and Climate Change (CGI) last year in New York.
In February 2007, the ADFEC signed a cooperative agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) whereby MIT faculty would help expand the curriculum and organization of the Masdar Institute. Sultan Ahmad Al-Jabir, CEO of Masdar, hailed the agreement with one of the world’s most prominent universities. He said “The Masdar Institute will serve as the nucleus of the Masdar Initiative, feeding it with talent and innovative technologies to enhance economic development and promote new industries using renewable energy and resources in the emirate and the region.”
President George W. Bush visited a proposed model of Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City at the Emirates Palace Hotel in January this year. He said, "We just heard a briefing about how they're going to construct a city based entirely upon renewable energy. It will be an opportunity to see what works and what won't work, and an opportunity to share their technology with others.”
In Jan 21 this year, the ADFEC hosted the first World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, attracting around 200 of the world’s foremost innovators and experts clean energy, and an exhibition of alternative energy technologies. During the summit, His Highness, General Sheikh Muhammad Bin Zayyid Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, announced the most ambitious sustainability program ever launched by a government, to be funded by an initial investment of $15b. for projects targeting solar, wind and hydrogen power; carbon reduction and management, and sustainable development.
It is worth noting that American companies and universities are involved in the building and operation of Masdar. U.S. company CH2M HILL was appointed program manager for the first phase of the development and will be responsible for technology integration. Also, the American Louis Berger Group of consulting engineers will manage the Masdar city design process. So far, four architects firms have been shortlisted for the contract for designing the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) headquarters in its planned carbon-neutral city. Shortlisted are Foster & Partner, Murphy & Young and Atkins, all of the UK, and the US firm, Smith & Gill. Khalid 'Awad, director of the property development unit at Masdar said, "We will announce the winner soon." Groundbreaking on the world’s first zero carbon emmission city took place on 9 February. On the other hand, some analysts say that this city seeks to create a new global community only for the elite as it is not a social project.
UAE-U.S. Security Ties By Sherin Deghedy
Security issues play an important part in the U.S.-UAE bilateral relationship, and given regional tensions, will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. For more than a decade, the Defense Cooperation Agreement of 1994 between the U.S. and the UAE has provided a solid basis for military cooperation and coordination. Under this agreement, the UAE has participated in joint military training exercises with U.S. forces and offered U.S. forces access to UAE ports and territory. Lockheed Martin Corporation, for example, has worked closely with the UAE government on providing solutions to its defense needs, such as the F-16 fighter plane. Raytheon has had a presence in the UAE for decades and has been a key provider of UAE air defense systems since 1980.