Japanese oil expertise to tackle energy challenges

By Conrad Prabhu — MUSCAT: Jan 1: Oman and Japan have agreed to extend the duration and scope of their ongoing bilateral cooperation to tackle, among other things, two key challenges faced by the upstream oil and gas sector: gas flaring and produced water. The pact, initialled by the Ministry of Oil and Gas with the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC), effectively extends the duration of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) first signed in January 2014, by an additional three years.
Set up in 2004, JOGMEC emerged from the integration of the Japan National Oil Corporation, which had the mandate to secure a stable supply of oil and natural gas for Japan, and the Metal Mining Agency of Japan (MMAJ), whose primary remit was to secure a stable supply of nonferrous metal and mineral resources.  JOGMEC also helps resource-rich countries develop their natural wealth by providing technical expertise, training support and knowhow. “The MoU between the Ministry of Oil and Gas, Oman and JOGMEC extends for another three years the continuing technical cooperation to solve challenges in oil and gas fields and to strengthen human resources utilizing Japanese cutting-edge technologies,” Tokyo-based JOGMEC said in a statement.
Significantly, the technical cooperation between the two sides will encompass a gamut of energy related issues, most notably the challenges posed by gas flaring and produced water.  Flaring reduction is a key safety and environmental priority for the Sultanate, which is keen to reduce the carbon footprint attributed to flaring.  Besides, gas recovered instead of venting can be put to valuable commercial use.
Majority government-owned Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), which accounts for much of the nation’s gas output, is pursuing an ambitious flare reduction programme across its sizable Block 6 concession.
The company has plans to recover an estimated 500,000 cubic metres / day of gas by 2019 through the implementation of flaring reduction projects in its Oil South Directorate.  Similar initiatives envisaged in the Oil North Directorate will yield approximately 280,000 m3/day of recovered gas by 2025.  Even more worrisome for Oman is the problem of produced water, which is a byproduct of oil production from a number of fields in the Sultanate.  On average, around nine barrels of oil-contaminated water is produced for every barrel of oil that is pumped from certain reservoirs.  Disposing of this water safely and effectively imposes a significant cost on oil companies that are saddled with this problem.  Further, with produced water averaging 9-10 million barrels per day in the Sultanate — one of the highest in the GCC — the environmental and economic cost needs to be urgently tackled, say experts.
Also envisaged within the scope of the extended MoU are joint technological studies designed to evaluate the potential utilisation of Japanese technologies in tackling challenges encountered by oil companies during the stages of exploration, developmental and production of oil and gas. The potential use of nano-technology and material and advanced environmental technologies will be explored as well.
The efficacy of Japanese technologies in Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) will also be reviewed in helping arrest declining production from some wells as part of this cooperative arrangement.
“The extension of the MoU, we believe, will not only contribute to the advancement of Oman and Japan relations, but will also build a stronger foundation on which the activities of Japanese oil & gas companies are based,” JOGMEC added.
Oman is a key exporter of crude and LNG to Japan.