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Exxon eyes big savings on UAE oilfield development

Exxon Mobil Corp aims to chop billions of dollars from the cost of increasing output capacity at the world's fourth-largest oilfield in the United Arab Emirates, a senior executive said.

The capacity rise at Upper Zakum accounts for about a third of the UAE's planned boost to total capacity of 3.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018 from around 2.8 million bpd.

The field currently pumps above 500,000 bpd and Abu Dhabi aims to boost output to 750,000 bpd, Exxon's Regional Vice President Richard Vierbuchen told Reuters.

Vierbuchen declined to say when the field would reach 750,000 bpd or how much the development would cost, but said Exxon and state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) were looking at ways to cut costs.

“We have lots of exciting new ideas to cut costs... to reduce the costs of development by billions of dollars,” Vierbuchen said.

The UAE has already cut costs by around 20% on other multi-billion dollar projects to boost capacity, driving down contractor prices to reflect the slump in markets for raw materials as the global economy slows.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has also sent contractors back to the drawing board with bids as it looks for cost savings.

Exxon took a 28% stake in the concession holder for the Upper Zakum field, Zakum Development Co (Zadco), in January 2006. Initial plans were to boost production to 750,000 bpd by 2010.

ADNOC owns 60% of Zadco, while Japan's Inpex owns the remaining 12%.

The UAE is the world's fifth largest oil exporter. (Reuters)