The Middle East’s upstream energy industry is changing fast. The sector is increasingly looking beyond the region for investment opportunities in a way that would have been considered unthinkable decades ago. Tapping into those changes, and being able to work ever-more closely with the National Oil Companies of the region is arguably the biggest challenge for the traditional oil and gas majors.
Total, with a pedigree in the region dating back to the very earliest days of oil and gas exploration, is carefully positioning itself at the vanguard of building the hybrid relationships necessary to create long-term future partnerships which are appealing to both IOCs and their local NOC partners.
The company can trace its Middle Eastern roots back to Compagnie Francaise des Petroles’ (its predecessor) which acquired Deutsche Bank’s interests in Turkish Petroleum’s assets, which included fields in Iraq in 1924 (under the terms of a WWI reparations treaty) and original Qatari concessions in 1936, and today has Middle Eastern portfolio which accounts for around a quarter of its global production.
Arnaud Breuillac, president of Middle East exploration and production at Total tells Oil & Gas Middle East that the company’s history and future are embedded in the region, and that the business on offer today represents the most exciting opportunity pipeline for the company in more than a generation.
Past & present
“Total is an historic partner and actor in the Middle East upstream industry. We stress partner because everything we do here in terms of exploration and production, be it in the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Yemen, our operations at their core are in tandem with the goals and objectives of the NOCs.”
The company has an impressive pedigree and regional presence.
“Our track record is relevant today because it is a core part of our corporate and cultural understanding that the Middle East has always been considered an absolute priority for us.”
Despite growing global excitement surrounding unconventional and carbon neutral resources, Breuillac says the Middle East’s energy hub status is unassailable in the near- and medium-term future. “When you look at tomorrow’s world, and even considering all of the unconventional resources which are being identified, there remains a lot of uncertainty in terms of economic value and whether some of these will really play out the way some corners of the industry expects.”
Breuillac says Total’s flexibility on contractual frameworks and its ability to offer stakeholder opportunities in energy prospects outside the region set the company’s ethos apart from its rivals.
“Where we differentiate ourselves quite a bit is our ability to reinvent ourselves and deliver real flexibility, which does not mean a low return on investment - quite the contrary in most cases - but that we do not insist on things that a national oil company, for example, cannot give.”
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