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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

Why the Supreme Petroleum Council is important for Oil & Gas companies in Abu Dhabi

2nd February 2015 (Updated where indicated.)

To work directly with ADNOC, it's necessary to be registered, onshore in Abu Dhabi with a Trade License issued by the Department of Economic Development (DED) and to have a special approval from the Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC).

What is the Supreme Petroleum Council?

The Supreme Petroleum Council was established under law No. (1) in 1988 and is responsible for the petroleum industry in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, including formulating and overseeing the implementation of Abu Dhabi's petroleum policy to ensure its goals are achieved. The Supreme Petroleum Council also assumes responsibility as Board of Directors for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and the Petrol Department, which upholds the provision of Law No. (8) of 1978 relating to the preservation of the oil industry and ensures that all companies related to the industry abide by this law.

(Updated 8th September 2023)

The Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) was assimilated into the newly announced Supreme Council for Financial & Economic Affairs in December 2020; which, at that time, took over the responsibility for matters relating to petroleum and natural resources.

What is SPC approval?

SPC approval is shown on a company’s Trade License in the form of a business activity called Onshore And Offshore Oil And Gas Fields And Facilities Services. The Supreme Petroleum Council does not charge any fees for applications/approvals, although DED licensing fees will apply. This activity is required for all activities in relation to oil and gas, from construction and drilling, through to catering and trading of equipment.

(Updated 8th September 2023)

Why is Supreme Petroleum Council approval important?

In addition to being a pre-requisite for working with ADNOC, Supreme Petroleum Council approval is also required for obtaining security clearance permits called CICPA passes. CICPA passes are needed for anyone contracted to work on any critical national infrastructure in Abu Dhabi and throughout the UAE, both onshore and offshore. As such, those individuals who need access to the oil fields and oil rigs will need to apply for CICPA passes.

CICPA security passes scan qr code request application assistance Gateway Group Abu Dhabi UAE

Employees of gas companies are not allowed to apply for SPC approval.

How to get Supreme Petroleum Council approval

This is somewhat of a mystery and grey area as far as availability of information is concerned. The published required documents for the application, in addition to the corporate documents are as follows:

Local partner documents (Emirates ID, Passport Copy & Unique ID, Family Book, Work ID).

It is perceived that the approval is more likely to be granted if the local partner or service agent is either an Emirati individual holding an Abu Dhabi passport or an Abu Dhabi entity. Furthermore, it is perceived that if the local partner is a corporate entity and already has Supreme Petroleum Council approval themselves, then approval is more also more likely.

Traditionally, the application process could take some months; however during the last few years, the speed of application has increased significantly and is now usually completed within a couple of days.

Can free zone companies can get Supreme Petroleum Council approval?

Traditionally, free zone companies were unlikely to get Supreme Petroleum Council approval. However, in 2014, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Supreme Petroleum Council and Masdar City, enabling companies in the Masdar City free zone to be able to apply for Supreme Petroleum Council approval. However, similar to an onshore company, an application to the Supreme Petroleum Council is merely that, an application; there is no guarantee of approval. Also, there are special requirements for a Masdar free zone company applying for Supreme Petroleum Council approval:

The Company should base its UAE Head Quarters at Masdar City;

  • Annual fees of AED10,000 are applicable in addition to the business license fees.

  • The company is required to lease a minimum area at Masdar City of 100 sqm before the activity is listed on the license issued by Masdar City.

  • The company should comply with the laws & regulations of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), SPC and Masdar City at all times.

(Updated 8th September 2023)

Nowadays, whilst free zone companies can apply to work with ADNOC, it is generally still considered more likely for SPC approval to be granted to mainland companies, particularly those which have an Emirati shareholder, given that free zone companies can only legally work within the geographical boundaries of the free zone from which their license has been issued; meaning that they could provide some office-based activities from in within their free zone, which could be more likely to obtain approval. However, bear in mind that SPC approvals are discretionary.

(Updated 8th September 2023)

An alternative way for free zones companies to obtain SPC approval is by setting up a dual license. A dual license is supplementary license which Abu Dhabi free zone companies can apply for via the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), giving them an Abu Dhabi mainland license. However, not all activities are available for dual licenses, so it is best to check in advance. The benefit of the dual license is that a mainland commercial premise is not required for the license to be issued; however, the primary free zone company must have a physical space registered with their license because a virtual office or a flexi-desk isn't sufficient.

(Updated 8th September 2023)

Abu Dhabi Freelancers get Supreme Petroleum Council Approval

Did you know that it is possible to apply for Supreme Petroleum Council Approval if you have an Abu Dhabi freelancer license? The Abu Dhabi freelancer license is quick and easy to setup, as well as being cost-effective, making it an ideal solution for professional individuals. Check out our new freelancer license business setup packages. The oil and gas consultancy packages include the Onshore and offshore oil fields and gas fields and facilities services business activity which is required for SPC approval.

(Updated 8th September 2023)

Why Gateway Group is the ideal choice to setup your oil and gas company and get Supreme Petroleum Council approval for you

  • Unlike many company formation services providers, Gateway Group was originally established in Abu Dhabi. Our HQ is in Abu Dhabi. It's where our roots are.

  • Gateway Group has a dedicated Abu Dhabi Business Setup Team, who are physically on-the-ground in Abu Dhabi. We are carrying out economic license and business setup-related services every day, so we have the knowledge, connections and experience to provide a seamless incorporation service.

  • Being based in Abu Dhabi makes all the difference when setting up companies here, it means Gateway Group can get things done quickly and we don't need to travel down from Dubai.

  • Gateway Group boasts an intricate knowledge of the processes, systems and requirements related to starting a business in Abu Dhabi gained from providing these services on a daily basis for a number of years. This benefits our clients as it that means we are always up-to-date with any changes, no matter how minor, which could potentially cause delays or incur unnecessary costs for providers who aren't so regularly carrying out company formation services in Abu Dhabi.

  • Gateway Group has been approved by the Supreme Petroleum Council ourselves and we have years of experience in applying for and successfully obtaining this approval for our clients.

  • Gateway Group is well versed in arranging CICPA registrations and applying for CICPA security passes for our clients too, which is peace of mind for companies who need to get their employees into restricted areas at speed, especially if they are not familiar with Arabic.

  • Despite 100% foreign ownership now being available, Gateway Group still provides a corporate local sponsor service for those companies who see the benefit of having a local partner and don't want the responsibility and burden of having to handle any labour or immigration issues for themselves. In such instances, our corporate vehicle is Supreme Petroleum Council-approved, which means that we meet the local partner requirements for oil and gas companies wishing to work directly with ADNOC.

start your company formation in Abu Dhabi with Gateway Group to do it right scan the QR code to send us a Whatsapp message now

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Written by Jenny Hunt

Founder, Gateway Group, Abu Dhabi & Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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