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Fijian soldiers may become guards of strategic assets in the United Arab Emirates under a memorandum of understanding the two countries are to sign after current negotiations conclude, Fijian media report.
The most likely assets to be guarded by Fijian troops will, of course, be the Emirates’ oil fields. Most of the oil in the Gulf state are concentrated in Abu Dhabi, with reserves at 92.2 billion barrels out of the Emirates’ total 97.8 billion barrels.
Last year, the UAE’s Supreme Petroleum Council announced new discoveries had added 7 billion barrels to the country’s total, making it the six-largest holder of oil reserves in the world with 105 billion barrels.
This year, the Emirates also discovered a major gas reservoir shared by Abu Dhabi and Dubai. With reserves estimated at 80 trillion cu ft of natural gas, the Jebel Ali field could become the largest gas discovery in the world in 13 years, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.
The gas discovery is extra good news for the oil economy of the UAE. With oil prices trending down and the outlook less than favorable, the Emirates, like other Gulf producers, are seeking to reduce their dependence on oil revenues.
This effort has become more important than ever now that oil demand in the world’s second-largest consumer and largest importer, China, has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. In fact, OPEC itself had to revise its outlook for global oil demand by 230,000 bpd for this year in its latest Monthly Oil Market Report because of the effect of the epidemic on oil demand.
This means OPEC now expects global oil demand to grow by about 990,000 bpd this year, to reach some 100.73 million bpd in total. Yet with non-OPEC production growth continuing, demand for the cartel’s oil, including UAE oil, may be affected more deeply than before. Asia and China in particular are key markets for Gulf oil and competition for these markets will only get more intense this year, judging by these forecast trends.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.