Top UAE Power Producer Joins Global Peers in Renewables Push

The United Arab Emirates’ largest power producer plans to cut exposure to oil and natural gas assets, joining energy companies around the world looking to refocus their operations on renewables.

“Our focus is going to be on power and water, and less on oil and gas going forward,” Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. Chief Executive Officer Jasim Husain Thabet said in a Bloomberg TV interview.

The UAE, which can pump more than 4 million barrels of crude a day, depends on oil exports for a large part of its national income. But energy producers globally are looking for greener options as economies transition to cleaner fuels. BP Plc, for instance, plans to shrink its hydrocarbon business by 40% over the coming decade.

Taqa, as Abu Dhabi National Energy is known, last year took on the power generation assets of a state-owned utility. It plans to boost its UAE electricity production capacity to 30 gigawatts by 2030 from 18 gigawatts and boost the portion of solar plants in that mix.

About 30% of Taqa’s total generation will be made up of solar or wind plants, Thabet said, and the company will detail annual emissions later this year. It will also unveil a plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions, Thabet said, without providing a timeline.

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Taqa is considering options for its oil and gas assets, including a potential sale, Bloomberg reported last week, but Thabet said on Wednesday he is “in no rush” to sell them. The company has hydrocarbon assets centered mainly in North America with gas production businesses in Canada.

It also has about 5 gigawatts of power generation in countries including Morocco and Saudi Arabia, and plans to add 15 gigawatts more of electricity capacity internationally, Thabet said. Taqa also plans invest 40 billion dirhams ($10.9 billion) in transmission and distribution assets in the UAE.

The company is “in good shape” to sell more shares after lowering limits of foreign stock ownership, Thabet said in a separate interview. Selling more stock depends on the company’s owners, he said. The Abu Dhabi government holds more than 98% of Taqa stock through a holding company.

The power producer will tap the bond markets for funding this year and will be looking at how much debt to issue to refinance about $1.5 billion in securities maturing, he said. Future power plants will also seek project financing, Thabet said, declining to give an estimate for how much the company expected to expand capacity.

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