Setting up an Oil & Gas Company in Abu Dhabi

Setting up an Oil & Gas Company in Abu Dhabi

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With ADIPEC returning to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, this article explores the prerequisites for setting up an oil and gas company in the capital, and outlines the role of the Supreme Petroleum Council within the process.

Since the first event in 1984, ADIPEC has grown to become one of the largest oil and gas exhibitions in the world. Providing an unrivalled platform for global leaders to share their knowledge of the industry, the world-renowned conference acts to strengthen Abu Dhabi’s position as a global energy business hub.

Setting Up a Business in Abu Dhabi

Establishing any business in Abu Dhabi typically follows the same key stages. Our range of articles provide further insight into how each of these stages can be applied to individual business sectors, but we have highlighted the fundamental steps below:

  • Step 1: Determine the legal form and activities of the business
  • Step 2: Register the trade name and obtain the initial approval
  • Step 3: Arrange an office lease
  • Step 4: Apply for a trade license and regulatory approvals
  • Step 5: Obtain the DED Trade Licence
  • Step 6: Register the Company with Labour and Immigration
  • Step 7: Open a business bank account
  • Step 8: Apply for employee visas

As a highly regulated industry within the UAE, there are two significant considerations for investors wishing to establish a business within the oil and gas sector; Supreme Petroleum Council Approval (SPC Approval) and on-shore registration.

The Supreme Petroleum Council

Established under law No. (1) in 1988, the Supreme Petroleum Council are the senior authority for the regulation of the petroleum industry in Abu Dhabi, responsible for formulating and overseeing the successful implementation of the Emirate’s petroleum policy. The Supreme Petroleum Council also assume responsibility as the Board of Directors for ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) and the Petrol Department, which uphold the provision of Law No. (8) of 1978 relating to the preservation of the oil industry in Abu Dhabi. All operating companies or foreign shareholders of oil enterprises in the emirate must abide by the provisions of this law.

Obtaining Supreme Petroleum Council Approval (SPC Approval - Oil & Gas)

Supreme Petroleum Council Approval (SPC Approval) is required for any business wishing to operate within the Oil and Gas sector in Abu Dhabi; including for example construction, drilling, catering, and even trading of equipment. Once approved, this is shown on a business’ Trade License as an additional activity: “Onshore and Offshore Oil & Gas Field & Facilities Services”.

For businesses wishing to access oil fields, Supreme Petroleum Council Approval is also required in order to obtain the relevant permits from the Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority (CICPA), previously known as CNIA (Critical National Infrastructure Authority).

PRO Partner Group have assisted in the successful set up of numerous companies within the oil and gas sector of Abu Dhabi, our expert team have the necessary skills and knowledge to guide you through the Supreme Petroleum Council Approval process quickly and efficiently, and ensure that your business can trade both legally and securely.

“The oil and gas industry in Abu Dhabi is expanding with a clear vision but still retains its cultural roots. Because of this, face to face networking is very important here, so I spend a lot of the time on the ground forging strong relationships which my clients then benefit from. This enables me to provide the advice you need to ensure that you can set up your company here both legally and securely and that you understand the local market and governmental requirements” James Swallow, Commercial Director of PRO Partner Group

On-Shore Registration

Generally speaking, it is not possible for free zone businesses to receive Supreme Petroleum Council approval. As such, it is necessary for companies within the oil and gas industry to be registered on-shore in Abu Dhabi, either as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Foreign Branch Office.

The main complexity for foreign investors wishing to set up an oil and gas business on-shore in Abu Dhabi is the necessity to find a local partner. As with most countries in the GCC, UAE legislation states that a foreign investor cannot own more than 49% of any business entity in Abu Dhabi, and therefore at least one Emirati partner or UAE Owned Company must be a shareholder in the business, with ownership of at least 51%. As a company formation specialist, PRO Partner Group can act as the corporate local partner to the foreign investor, providing security and eliminating the requirement to source an individual Emirati stakeholder.

James Swallow - PRO Partner GroupJames Swallow is Commercial Director of PRO Partner Group and specialises in the formation of companies in the UAE. For further information on how PRO Partner Group can assist with establishment and approval process of your company within the oil and gas sector, please contact James on or call a member of the team on:

+971 (0)4 456 1761 (Dubai) +971 (0)2 448 5120 (Abu Dhabi)


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