State-owned Qatar Petroleum says it has signed a deal with Abu Dhabi to operate the shared Al-Bunduq offshore oil field, despite a bitter diplomatic rift

Doha (AFP) - State-owned Qatar Petroleum announced Tuesday it has signed a deal with Abu Dhabi to operate a shared offshore oil field, despite a bitter diplomatic rift between the Gulf neighbours.

The United Arab Emirates confirmed the contract had been renewed with the Japanese operators of the Al-Bunduq field but said it had not had any contact or dealings with Qatar on the issue.

“We are delighted to sign this concession agreement, which will ensure the continued development and operation of the Al-Bunduq oil field for many years to come,” Qatar Petroleum president and chief executive Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi said in a statement.

The company added, pointedly, that the deal showed it was a “trustworthy” energy provider “at all times and under all conditions”.

The small oil field, located on the maritime border between Qatar and Abu Dhabi, is managed by a Japanese oil consortium.

The previous deal to operate the oilfield ended earlier this month. Tuesday’s statement did not say how many years were covered by the latest agreement.

However, the UAE Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) said Abu Dhabi did not hold any negotiations with Qatar regarding the oilfield.

“Al-Bunduq oilfield is shared equally by the emirate of Abu Dhabi and Qatar due to its geographic location. It has been under management by a Japanese consortium for the past four decades,” the council said in a statement cited by the UAE state news agency WAM.

“What happened lately was that the concession was extended by the concerned governments through a technical agreement with the Japanese side. No contacts or dealings took place with the Qatari side,” the statement said.

The signing of the deal is symbolic as Qatar has been isolated by a group of neighbouring countries and former allies, including the United Arab Emirates, for the past nine months in a rancorous political, diplomatic and economic dispute.

The Saudi-led bloc, which also includes Bahrain and Egypt, accuses Doha of supporting terrorism and fostering ties with Iran.

World Cup 2022 host Qatar categorically refutes the claims and says its rivals are trying to force through regime change in Doha.

Sanctions imposed by the boycotting countries include closing Qatar’s only land border, stopping Qatari planes entering their airspaces and halting almost all trade.

However, Qatar is still providing the UAE with gas despite the crisis, and both countries – like Iran – are members of the OPEC oil cartel.

Kaabi has previously said Qatar would not cut gas supplies to the UAE.

At the same time, Emirates airline still provides shirt sponsorship for Qatar-owned football team Paris Saint-Germain.