Every market intelligence on energy these days converges on a unanimous view that despite the push on developing alternative energies, fossil fuel will continue to play a pivotal role in world energy supply. The competition between fossil fuel and alternative energies is a new reality. To maintain a competitive edge, sustainability and favorable economic returns shape the UAE's approach to future oil developments.

UAE oil production is analyzed to reflect the critical importance of production contribution to the world and within the MENA region. Two published international field development cases are analyzed, focusing on the impact of aggressive approach on production sustainability, potential challenges and costs in developing the remaining bypassed oil. By using typical Abu Dhabi reservoir field data, various development scenarios are simulated demonstrating potential impact on production sustainability, ultimate recovery and economical value for the country.

Today National Oil Companies (NOC's) have an advantage as they own and control more than 90% of the total world oil and gas reserves. In contrast, the top six largest International Oil Companies (IOC's) combined control less than 5% of the total. Clearly, IOC's will face challenges in reserves replacement. Although there are different factors affecting reserves replacement rate, one of the key to enhanced economic reserves position for IOC's is field depletion strategy.

An ideal field depletion strategy would see production at lower depletion rates to ensure efficient reservoir drainage for maximizing recovery. An aggressive field depletion strategy can potentially generate faster monetary returns through higher production, but may create by- passed oil that would be difficult and costly to extract. An optimal field depletion strategy ensures sustainable development, maximizes ultimate recovery, and generates highest value return for the country and all stakeholders. A careful approach is required while deciding between these two different approaches, as the decision can have long lasting implications on corporates economic reserve position and global energy supply landscape. For example, a small improvement in ultimate recovery of existing reservoirs worldwide would add to and sustain affordable supplies, but a small reduction can potentially lead to supply shortages hindering world economic growth.

This paper presents the untold story of Abu Dhabi's Recovery Based Strategy. The aim is to perform a detailed analysis and comparison between two different development approaches, namely Aggressive Approach aiming to generate quick monetary value through high production (high depletion rates), and optimal / moderate field depletion strategy prioritizing sustainable development, and high ultimate recovery for all stakeholders.

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