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Fuelling the services trade

Evidence of global trade in oil and gas industry services was not difficult to find in the world’s most geographically isolated capital city over the past week, nor were the comparisons and contrasts between world regions.

Late last week Austrade presented a seminar looking at opportunities in the Middle East, while during the week the British Consulate has hosted a UK trade mission giving delegates the chance to inspect industry developments here.

Although perceptions of riches and a preference for all things state-of-the-art in some regions were enhanced, those keen to hear of the state of play in the Middle East were told Kuwait had recently been losing 600,000 barrels of oil per day due to maintenance problems.

Maintenance and upgrades are not issues in Qatar, however, with huge gas reserves, but not the infrastructure to capitalise on these - to the extent the industry is almost considered greenfields.

Common perceptions surrounding revenue streams were blown apart when one presenter revealed the wealthiest of the seven Federal states of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, derived the most income, not from oil and gas production, but from investments in every European stock market.

Notwithstanding, each six weeks Abu Dhabi’s president reportedly pockets US$1.2 billion from oil

and gas revenue.

Things are different there. Eight decades of drilling for oil in the United Arab Emirates – and five decades of commercial production – have reduced reserves to levels that can only sustain production for a further 120 years.

Gas reserves are said to be such that current production could continue for another 160 years.

And the plan to deliver Qatar gas by pipeline throughout the UAE’s, to Dubai, to Oman and into Pakistan is considered no pipedream.

Thirty-two UK trade mission delegates also soon realised on Monday morning that here was quite different from where they had just travelled.

The IT, science and technical specialists were now in a local jurisdiction the size of western Europe, but with a population of just 1.9 million, and between two and eight days shipping time only from Asian markets.

Gas prices had halved in six years, the labour force was more productive than that of the mother country and national economic growth was a healthy four percent. And there was no shortage of new developments on the drawing board, many of these – including large-scale LNG and gas-to-liquids production - set to pioneer new technologies in the region, if not the world.

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