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How To Set Up An Oil & Gas Company In Abu Dhabi

30th October 2017

  • Abu Dhabi produces 3.1 million barrels of oil per day.

  • Abu Dhabi produces 9.6 billion cubic feet of raw gas per day.

  • Abu Dhabi processes 900,000 barrels of condensates and crude per day.

  • Abu Dhabi processes 8.6 billion cubic feet of raw gas per day.

However, it should be noted, that Abu Dhabi has agreed to cut its production, in line with the UAE's OPEC commitment to reduce global oil outputs, as agreed in November 2016 and extended in May 2017.

Abu Dhabi is one of the largest energy producers in the world. Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) is Abu Dhabi's energy company. It has a network of 18 companies across the hydrocarbon value chain covering exploration, production, storage, refining, distribution and development of petrochemicals. It's objective is to find new and innovative ways to maximise the value of the Emirate's natural resources. Additionally, it looks to pioneer approaches and technologies to ensure that it meets the demands of the developing energy market.

The above overview of Abu Dhabi's oil and gas sector demonstrates the potential and opportunities. Should your company be doing business here? If so, how to start an oil and gas business in Abu Dhabi?

What to consider when setting up an oil and gas company in Abu Dhabi

  • Onshore or free zone?

  • How to get registered with the Supreme Petroleum Council?

  • Legal structures - Limited Liability Company or Foreign Branch ownership?

  • What is involved in the setup process?

Where to set up your business in Abu Dhabi- onshore or free zone?

This is the most common question we get asked by companies looking to establish a commercial presence in Abu Dhabi. Oil and gas companies wanting to work directly with the ADNOC group will need to apply for Supreme Petroleum Council approval. Whilst this approval is possible via the MASDAR free zone it comes with more conditions and fees. As such, oil and gas companies generally set up on onshore either as a Limited Liability Company or a Foreign Branch Office.

How to register with the Supreme Petroleum Council

The Supreme Petroleum Council is responsible for Abu Dhabi's petroleum industry. For more information about the Supreme Petroleum Council, read our another of our articles HERE. Any company operating in oil and gas and wanting to register with ADNOC for the supply of goods or services will need to have Supreme Petroleum Council approval. This approval isn't just for drilling, tank cleaning, and pipeline maintenance companies; it is also necessary for companies providing ancillary goods and services such as pumps and valves, medical supplies and consultancy services.

We recommend that companies apply for Supreme Petroleum Council approval during their incorporation process. The only documents required will be the work IDs of the local sponsor or service agent in addition to those generated for the company setup. The application is submitted via the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and approval is usually received within 24-48 hours. The approval shows as an additional activity on the Commercial License (Trade License): Onshore and Offshore Oil And Gas Fields And Facilities Services.

For established companies, it is possible to apply for Supreme Petroleum Council approval. It will be necessary to request to add the additional activity of Onshore and Offshore Oil And Gas Fields And Facilities Services to your Commercial License via ADDED. ADDED fees will apply.

The Supreme Petroleum Council does not charge a fee for its approval. However, beware some organizations will try to charge massive fees for arranging this approval.

Award-winning Gateway Group is very experienced in obtaining Supreme Petroleum Council approval for our clients. Gateway Group can provide corporate nominee local partner (sponsor) and service agent services for oil and gas companies. Our clients benefit from us already having Supreme Petroleum Council approval, thus meeting the requirements for such approval and making Gateway an ideal local sponsor or service agent for oil and gas companies.

Limited Liability Company or Foreign Branch Office?

Oil and gas companies setting up onshore in Abu Dhabi will be required to have a local partner in some form:

  • Limited Liability Company: requires 51% ownership by an Emirati local sponsor

  • Foreign Branch Office: requires a national service agent, but the foreign oil or gas company retains 100% ownership

Gateway Group meets the requirements to act as a local sponsor or service agent, thus providing security and control to our clients.

Overview of the process to set up an oil and gas company in Abu Dhabi

  • Initial consultation to understand the planned activities and to determine the legal structure

  • Preparation of legal documents

  • Application for Trade Name approval

  • Arrangement of commercial lease

  • Notarization of Memorandum of Association or Service Agent Agreement

  • Application for Supreme Petroleum Council approval and Commercial License Issue

  • Opening of corporate bank account

  • Registration with the General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) and Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MOHRE) to be able to provide visas for employees.

Visiting ADIPEC 2017?

Let us know if you are visiting ADIPEC 2017. Arrange to meet Gateway to help with your Abu Dhabi company formation, email us:

How Gateway Group can help your oil and gas company establish to do business in Abu Dhabi

Gateway is an award-winning company formation specialist, helping foreign companies to register their Abu Dhabi businesses correctly. By understanding clients’ activities and goals, we identify the most suitable route to market, including the risks and how to mitigate them, regulatory requirements, and ongoing commitments so that they can make an informed decision that is right for their business. Gateway's unique selection of local sponsor packages provide protection, control and 100% of your profits to your business. Gateway's key services include local sponsor services, company formation, PRO services and visas and Emirates ID processing. Email us:

Written by Jenny Hunt, Founding Partner & CEO

Gateway Group of Companies, Abu Dhabi & Dubai UAE


Related Gateway Group Blogs

Complete Guide to Starting a Business in Abu Dhabi

Why the Supreme Petroleum Council is important for oil and gas companies in Abu Dhabi


Gateway Group Of Companies

Protect your business and profits and have an efficient business setup in Abu Dhabi and Dubai by engaging the award-winning Gateway Group to deliver our customised business setup, unique local sponsor packages, and visa processing. To establish your business in the UAE, Email us:


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