Oman to be hub for regional innovation

Muscat, March 12 –
Oman will be a hub for research in regional innovation as part of the National Research Strategy, said Dr Hilal bin Ali al Hinai, Secretary-General of The Research Council.
“Oman is blessed with a strategic location, but the most important aspect is the vision of His Majesty in making the country peaceful where researchers from the region can use it as an ideal platform for others to develop innovation. And it is happening,” he said.
Most studies in the country are based on biological and environmental resources.
A good number of researchers are also in the medical field and energy sector.
“There are specific areas of research that Oman would like to focus on. When the National Research Strategy was developed, the potential areas for research were studied.
“We asked ourselves what will be the ideal area of research in Oman. It had to be something that would immediately strike you as ‘Oman’. We looked at our needs, which are energy, renewable energy, water and food,” Dr Al Hinai told the Observer.
“We looked at our current strengths and realised our strength was in oil and gas sector. When we mention Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), Oman will come to your mind because the country has been successful in adopting technologies and developing human resources in the sector.
“We felt if we focus on enhanced oil recovery, we could be among the best. It could be injecting steam into the ground to produce oil or treating a significant amount of water,” he said.
According to him, if the steam, which is currently produced by burning gas, can be substituted with solar energy, then Oman can save a large amount of gas that can be used for other applications.
There have been dedicated efforts in the oil and gas sector’s research and development, and the secretary-general feels the nation has a competitive edge.
ICT (Information and Communications Technology) is another focus.
“If we apply ICT in smart oil fields, which is a niche area, the knowhow can be marketed in the region. This is what is happening — we developed the research strategy and we were lucky to have teams from Petroleum Development Oman and the energy industry in general,” said Dr Al Hinai.
“All these steps have put the country on the right platform, which means we are also having one of the largest solar energy projects in the world for the oil fields, but tomorrow it will move to desalination, power production and even operating air-conditioning. This knowhow is almost owned by Omani companies,” he said.