The current slump in the world oil prices poses a real challenge to oil exporting countries but did not have any impact on the UAE's economy, thanks to the economic diversification policy adopted by the country, Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Faris Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy, affirmed today.
''Low oil prices should create investment opportunities in non-oil sectors for the purpose of diversifying the economy,'' the minister said as he chaired the delegation to the second UAE-Russia Taskforce Meeting held in St. Petersburg to explore the prospects of joint co-operation and investment. Abu Dhabi hosted the first meeting in November 2015.
Russian Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Alexander Tsybulskiy, led the Russian side to the meeting which also discussed a variety of economic and investment issues of mutual interest. The two sides stressed the importance of pursuing work to broaden the scope of regional joint co-operation and investment opportunities.
The UAE side gave an overview of the state of the UAE's economy, its strengths and enabling factors, legislative framework, infrastructure and services and investment incentives that the state offers to foreign investors. The Russian side reviewed a number of investment opportunities in the areas of economy, energy, industry, free zones, tourism, agriculture and higher education.
''We had constructive discussions with the Russian side which will enable us to go ahead on a number of bilateral issues of mutual concern regarding regional co-operation, mutual investment opportunities and economic co-operation,'' the UAE minister said.
The Russian minister said the taskforce meetings were ''constructive and meaningful,'' adding that continued regular meetings underscored the importance of joint, close work to address opportunities and challenges in the region and the world at large.
During a working lunch, the two sides recognised the need for identifying a series of potential projects in free, economic zones for implementation in the next phase.
Later, Al Mazrouei, in his capacity as Managing Director of the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), met with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller. He also held a briefing with Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling and OMV Chief Executive Officer Rainer Seele to announce the conclusion of a series of economic and investment agreements. These agreements included a memorandum of understanding for swap of upstream assets between Austria's OMV, 24.8 percent owned by IPIC, Gazprom, which is owned 50 percent by the Russian government.
As per another agreement, Gazprom will supply crude oil to OMV. The two oil majors also signed an agreement for scientific and technical cooperation for gas production. They also agreed to sponsor cultural events in St. Petersburg and Vienna.
The UAE minister said these agreements would further solidify relations between the UAE, Russia and Austria in the field of energy, pave the way for greater joint co-operation in the future and raise profile of the three partners in the world energy sector.
''In my capacity as the IPIC Managing Director, I'm pleased to witness the signing of these vital agreements for our investment in OMV. The agreements cover trade, cultural, scientific and technological aspects,'' the UAE minister said following the signing ceremony.
OMV's engagement in the Achimov oil and LNG project underscores the IPIC's commitment to develop and participate in major energy projects which will have far-reaching impact on the European energy markets.
The UAE Minister of Energy noted that the recent visits that His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, undertook to Moscow had given a big boost to bilateral ties and co-operation, particularly in the economic field.
''The UAE-Russia relations are important and efforts should continue to advance them further by implementing signed agreements or concluding new ones,'' he affirmed.
The UAE delegation paid a field visit to the free economic zone in St. Petersburg where they were briefed about its working mechanisms and facilities.