ExxonMobil in Abu Dhabi – timeline

Abu Dhabi plays a vital role in supplying the world’s growing energy needs. With its industry-leading technical expertise, ExxonMobil is committed to the application of the technologies that will help Upper Zakum meet this challenge.

ExxonMobil in Abu Dhabi

  • 1939 Exxon and Mobil each first entered Abu Dhabi via the original onshore concession awarded to Petroleum Development (Trucial Coast) Ltd. for 75 years
  • 1950 Exploratory drilling begins in Abu Dhabi
  • 1960 First commercial oil discovery made at Bab
  • 1962 Petroleum Development is renamed Abu Dhabi Petroleum Company (ADPC)
  • 1963 First shipment of Murban crude exported from Jebel Dhanna Terminal aboard Esso Dublin tanker on December 14 (a heritage ExxonMobil tanker)
  • 1971 Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO) is established and is responsible for all onshore activities
  • 1978 Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Petroleum Operations (ADCO) is incorporated
  • 1998 Merger of Exxon and Mobil announced
  • 2006 ExxonMobil becomes a joint venture partner in Zakum Development Company (ZADCO), operating Upper Zakum
  • 2006 ExxonMobil establishes the ExxonMobil Technology Center in Abu Dhabi to provide training, resources and access to the company’s exclusive Engineering and Operations systems to ADNOC employees working on Upper Zakum
  • 2009 ZADCO partners agree to reach 750 thousand barrels per day by employing the first combination of artificial islands, extended reach drilling and maximum reservoir contact well completion technologies in the world
  • 2010 Wellbore stability models were developed with specially designed drilling fluids for improved efficiency in drilling high angle wells through the Upper Zakum formations
  • 2010 Construction of the four Upper Zakum artificial islands begins
  • 2012 & 2013: Drilling rigs were mobilized to the artificial islands. New rigs were designed and built, and existing ADNOC drilling rigs were upgraded and fitted with a walking system technology – a first in the UAE
  • 2012 The engineering and use of post completion mud removal breaker systems – another first in the UAE – eliminated the need for formation filter-cake removal through stimulations in many cases
  • 2012 Completions concepts for long horizontal wells and stimulation designs resulted from using engineered well liners – yet another first in the UAE
  • 2015 Construction of the four artificial islands is completed
  • 2016 A comprehensive well integrity-workover program was executed including wells conductor repairs and replacement of corroded Christmas trees riglessly
  • 2017 ZADCO merges with Abu Dhabi Marine Operating company (ADMA) to become ADNOC Offshore
  • 2017 Fabrication and installation of the over 170 facility modules is completed on the artificial islands
  • 2017 Upper Zakum production exceeded 750 thousand barrels per day via the Initial Production system in December. The use of an Initial Production is another first for the UAE
  • 2017 ADNOC, ExxonMobil and JODCO announce the approval of a new development plan to increase Upper Zakum production capacity to one million barrels per day by 2024
  • 2017 & 2018: 100 percent of the roadmap objectives for well accessibility were achieved for the Upper Zakum extended reach maximum reservoir contact wells, up to 20,000 feet laterals. The longest production logging tool (PLT) run in the region (UZ500 – 27,700 feet TD) was completed in 2018 – a first in the UAE
  • 2018 Upper Zakum drills the UAE’s longest measured depth well at 35,800 feet (UZ521)
  • 2018 Upper Zakum achieves the world record for the installation of a single run production liner of 21,759 feet (UZ614)
  • 2018 ExxonMobil launches UAE Instagram account
  • 2019 The fastest well ever achieved by ADNOC Offshore was drilled and completed to 30,125 feet in 42 days (UZ620 – AD131 rig), which is 200 percent faster than the average well drilled in 2017

ExxonMobil’s contributions to the Abu Dhabi oil and gas industry since entering the Upper Zakum Concession in 2006 include:

  • Over 70 pioneering technical studies carried out under the Master Technology Agreement
  • Participation of almost 50 Emiratis in development assignments at ExxonMobil assets around the world, with assignments lasting up to 18 months

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

Deploying innovative techniques to unlock additional resource value — A combination of artificial islands, extended-reach drilling, and maximum reservoir contact well technologies to increase daily production.


ExxonMobil participates in communities all around the world, including in the UAE. We work with organizations to ensure our efforts are tailored to address community and business needs such as education initiatives and economic development.
Our operations

Our operations

As one of the largest US investors in Abu Dhabi, ExxonMobil is committed to the development of the Emirate’s natural resources in cooperation with our joint venture partners, including ADNOC. Through our technological collaboration with ADNOC, we are proudly bringing value to Upper Zakum – the world’s second largest offshore oil field - and advancing a key cornerstone of Abu Dhabi’s vision to increase overall oil production capacity.