Shell has been awarded what is probably the largest contract ever for a UK company in the United Arab Emirates with the Anglo-Dutch oil giant set to invest huge sums to develop the Bab sour natural gas field for local energy requirements.
Natural gas is the among the greenest and cleanest energy sources. Abu Dhabi National Oil Company announced the award of the 30-year concession yesterday. Shell will take a 40 per cent stake in the $10 billion joint venture.
Shell has been operating in the UAE since before the formation of the country and has developed a long and successful partnership with ADNOC. But French oil giant Total has also been active in Abu Dhabi for a long time and the award to Shell must be a bitter blow to its long-term ambitions.
Over the past decade Shell has carefully cultivated its reputation as an ecologically responsible company that invests back into the community, supporting initiatives as diverse as improving corporate governance and the development of business websites.
It is probably no coincidence that the President of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is currently on an official visit to the United Kingdom where the long relationship between the two nations is being celebrated over tea with Her Majesty the Queen.
British companies have greatly assisted the transformation of the UAE from a dusty desert sheikhdom on the trade routes of the British Empire into a highly successful country with a per capita income well above that of the UK.
Mutual respect and investment are the key to taking this forward as demonstrated by the award of the Bab sour gas project to Shell.