The new man tasked to head Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) has the right mix of expertise and fresh ideas for the role, said executives from the energy industry reacting yesterday to the change at one of the world’s biggest producers.
The oil sector is being battered by falling prices, which are hovering at about US$30 per barrel after falling from about $110 about 18 months ago. Yet Sultan Al Jaber, the state oil firm’s new director general, appointed by Ruler’s decree on Monday, is a strong leader who has helped to “raise the profile of the UAE”, said Adel Albuainain, the chief executive of Dolphin Energy, a unit of Mubadala, where Mr Al Jaber is the chief executive of energy.
“[Mr Al Jaber] possesses an incredible amount of experience and expertise, and I can’t think of a more suitable person for the role at a time when the country is embracing new challenges,” Mr Albuainain said. Adnoc is the 12th biggest oil producer in the world, according to 2014 data, and accounts for almost all of the UAE’s crude output revenues, which contribute about 60 per cent of the Federal budget.
While Mr Al Jaber is well known for a number of high-profile roles he holds, including the UAE Minister of State and the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Ports Company, his history in the hydrocarbon sector will now be at the fore as he comes full circle from his start at an Adnoc subsidiary. The University of Southern California graduate in chemical engineering began his career as a process and planning engineer at Gasco, where he worked on gas-related projects spanning five years to 2002. Mr Al Jaber went on to fill the role of senior projects manager for Mubadala’s energy and industry unit from 2004 to 2006. He was instrumental in negotiations that led to the success of the Mukhaizna enhanced oil recovery project in Oman, raising production to 125,000 barrels of oil per day from 9,000 bpd.
At a time when companies have reined in spending to improve efficiency, one executive, who asked not to be named said: “Companies need to adjust themselves to the different market, and I think that Mr Al Jaber can help.” Mr Al Jaber spearheaded and launched Mubadala’s renewable energy arm, Masdar, 10 years ago, which catapulted the UAE on to the global map for renewable energy. Not only has the country become host to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), but Masdar has since delivered more than 1 gigawatt of installed clean energy capacity in the UAE and abroad with assets valued at close to US$7 billion.
Ahmad Belhoul, the former chief executive of Masdar and the new Minister of State for Higher Education Affairs, said yesterday that Mr Al Jaber had always been recognised as a leader who “persistently delivers”.
“Mr Al Jaber has proven himself to be a trusted, dynamic and successful leader, whether as the chief executive of Mubadala’s overall energy portfolio, the driving force behind Masdar or as chairman of the Abu Dhabi Ports company, ” he said.
Delivery is what the UAE needs in the environment of low oil prices as it works to meet increased crude production targets and rising power demand.
“Throughout his career, [Mr Al Jaber] has been recognised as a leader who persistently delivers, and he will play a crucial role in Adnoc’s evolution,” said Mr Belhoul.
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