The power is on

The Middle East is now world leader in the development and implementation of IT systems for use in the oil and gas sector. ACN looks at some of the most ambitious projects in the world built on and around innovative technology.

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By  Administrator Published  April 1, 2007

The Middle East is synonymous with the booming oil and gas industry. While Saudi Arabia is widely considered the frontrunner of the global oil and gas industry, producing approximately 10 million barrels of oil a day as well as sitting on a reported 25% of the world's oil reserves, it is easy to overlook the wealth of oil producing countries in its shadow, and even easier to overlook the prominent role IT plays at the front and back end of energy operations.

Neighbouring countries like the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar - despite producing a fraction of Saudi's output - are no small fry when it comes to energy.

Qatar unveiled Energy City Qatar, a US$2.6 billion project in 2006, to entice major players in the energy industry to base operations in the country. Armed with the incentives of strategic geographical placement and a revolutionary IT platform, Qatar hopes its new development will put the country on the industry map.

Ambitious projects like Energy City Qatar (ECQ) are a prime example of the grand aspirations the rest of the region has to develop the energy industry further. A multi venture project between Microsoft, Cisco and a number of, as yet unannounced, integrators, Energy City will provide the industry with the means to incorporate, accommodate and sustain the entire energy supply chain.

ECQ aims to take advantage of the wealth of natural oil and gas reserves in the Middle East and transform Qatar into a regional and international energy hub. Clustering all aspects of the industry - both upstream and downstream distributors, construction companies and even law firms associated with the sector will have the opportunity to establish themselves at Energy City and service their client companies needs on site.

"We have a number of companies looking to establish themselves at ECQ on a local and global scale. The project isn't exclusive to oil and gas companies, we're looking at the whole supply chain. Companies who provide services to oil and gas companies: financial institutions, law firms, geo-technical consultants, and engineering firms. It's a comprehensive outlook," explains Khalid Al Khudayri, who is the chief technical officer at Energy City Qatar.

Split into a corporate block and a residential block, the project is built on the technological premise of the ‘e-city' objective: to create a unified environment using IT as the foundation and platform from which the project can develop.

A key feature of the project is the utilisation of the technology to bridge the gap between the home and the workplace through a fully automated technology portal. Business and resident workers will be able to take advantage of the technology in both the residential and corporate developments being planned through a variety of interactive services including telephone, internet, television and interactive kiosks. Using these mediums residents will eventually be able to order and purchase services like laundry and food delivery interactively.

"ECQ's an ongoing project and we - Microsoft, Cisco and Energy City - all work together. We call it the IT consortium and the aim is to build a city with a brain," Khudayri says.

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