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Middle East a Key Market for the Oilfield Service Sector

simmons-and-companyThe Middle East will be one of the key markets for oilfield services companies for decades to come as countries across the region seek to maximize recovery from maturing assets and bring new fields into production, according to leading energy specialist corporate advisory firm Simmons & Company International Ltd. 

Speaking at ADIPEC in Abu Dhabi, Nick Dalgarno, co-head of eastern hemisphere corporate finance at Simmons, said there is an increasing willingness amongst governments and the national oil companies to build relationships with foreign companies to bring know how and technology into the region.

The oil and gas and wider energy factors driving this include the accelerating need for enhanced oil recovery, sour gas, heavy oil, tight gas, LNG, GTL, "clean fuels" refineries, carbon capture and storage, nuclear and solar technologies.

Just over half of the world's proven conventional oil reserves and 42 percent of the world's proven conventional gas reserves are located in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The region has 13 of the world's 20 giant oilfields as well as the largest gas field in the world. There is an estimated US$3 trillion of projects underway or planned in the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar) plus Iraq and Iran. The majority of these relate to upstream oil and gas, downstream (including refineries, LNG and GTL), petrochemicals and related infrastructure projects.

Projects with values in excess of US $10 billion include the Jubail, Yanbu and Petrorabigh refineries and petrochemicals schemes in Saudi Arabia; the Rumaila, West Qurna and Majnoon field development in Iraq; Zadco Upper Zakum artificial islands field development, ADCO onshore field development programmes, ADMA-OPCO offshore field developments and Shah/Bab sour gas field developments in Abu Dhabi; Khazzan deep/tight gas project in Oman; and the Barzan gas development in Qatar.

The need for nuclear power and renewables, especially solar, waste to energy, desalination, and IT and communications security and asset protection technologies is also increasing.

Simmons' international practice spans offices in Dubai, London and its eastern hemisphere headquarters in Aberdeen. Earlier this year, it advised on one of the biggest oilfield services deals in the Middle East, playing a key role in the acquisition of National Petroleum Services (NPS) by a consortium of investors led by sovereign-backed investment firm Fajr Capital. The deal, which completed in June, was valued in excess of $500 million and is believed to be the biggest oil services M&A transaction in the region to date.

The involvement of the Simmons' Dubai and Aberdeen teams on this high profile deal marked their growing presence in the region, where they have now been involved in several notable transactions including the sale of Lamprell subsidiary Inspec to Intertek, the disposal of Al Mansoori's Thailand business and the sale of Clough's marine construction business to Sapura.

Nick Dalgarno said: "The Middle East is becoming an increasingly important region for international oilfield services businesses and the expertise of our Aberdeen and Houston teams combined with our local presence in Dubai make a compelling proposition for companies in the sector looking to buy, sell or secure investment.

"Involving our UK and US teams in Middle East transactions brings a wider international perspective and insight to our local presence in Dubai which, when combined with our network and market knowledge, is of real added value to industry in the region.

"No oilfield services company can afford to ignore the market in the Middle East due to its sheer scale and variety. The region is increasingly receptive to bringing in skills and technology from outside to support its E&P activity and EOR requirements and indigenous businesses are also seeking opportunities to grow internationally. The new relationships resulting from this are creating opportunities for mergers and acquisitions.

"Iran is also an enormous untapped market which, when it is eventually rehabilitated into the international community, will have to address decades of underinvestment in its oil and gas industry," said Mr Dalgarno.

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