London: Abu Dhabi-owned energy company Taqa Bratani Ltd plans to boost North Sea oil and gas production by buying up mature oilfields and greatly increasing their efficiency, the head of the company's UK arm said yesterday.

Taqa, the UK arm of Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, took control last week of operations of the North Sea Brent crude system from Royal Dutch Shell.

The Brent system, responsible for transporting around 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil, is a key production stream and an important part of the pricing benchmark used to value billions of dollars of oil around the world.

"We want to rule the North Sea, of course," said Managing Director Leo Koot, outlining an ambitious, long-term strategy.

He explained, more seriously, that he hoped the company would increase UK North Sea output steadily from its current level of about 45,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), which is split into roughly 80 per cent oil and 20 per cent gas.

"A realistic target for us, we would hope by 2012, would be to have a build up in production to between 50,000 and 60,000 boepd," he told Reuters in an interview. "That is where we hope to plateau for a few years barring any additional acquisitions."

Taqa's Dutch arm this week bought a 15 per cent stake in North Sea assets from a group including US major Chevron Corp. It has already amassed more than $2 billion (Dh7.34 billion) in North Sea assets since its foundation in 2005 and plans further growth.

Koot said Taqa, more than 70 per cent owned and controlled by the government of Abu Dhabi, rated Aa2 by Moody's and backed by sovereign wealth, aimed to double to a $40 billion-$60 billion company by between 2012 and 2016 from almost $25 billion now.

Taqa aims to hold 40 per cent of its assets upstream in activities such as oil and gas production, 20 per cent mid-stream in pipelines and gas storage and 40 per cent downstream in areas such as electricity and water production.

Taqa now has extensive North Sea assets with a portfolio that includes pipelines, platforms and subsea satellites.

"Because we are such a young company, the only realistic way to grow is through acquisitions. But that strategy is changing now because we have a healthy asset base. From now on it will be strategic acquisitions," he said.

"There are a few northern North Sea exploration licences around. We are looking to take those on to see if there is any undiscovered oil, plus mature assets, which may be abandoned, to see if we can get production from redeveloping infrastructure."

Black gold: Drilling in Iraq

The Dubai based Black Gold Company announced yesterday that it has become the first UAE company to work in the field of digging for oil and its production in the northern Iraqi region.

Najeeb Al Zarouni, the CEO of Black Gold said that his company is investing between $ 80-100 million in the project that will be launched next year, while the production phase will start in 2011.

Al Zarouni added that the northern part of Iraq is an economically promising area with great investment potential in the field of oil and investment. He added that Black Gold regards this project as a historical investment especially as the company looks foreword to expand its work in the region.