Agreements signed on Tuesday by Omani and international energy players to unlock the natural gas potential of Block 10 in the central part of the Sultanate of Oman will help advance the development of an all-electric, solar-powered LNG bunker project planned by energy major TotalEnergies at Sohar Port.
Those agreements included the establishment of Marsa LNG, a partnership between TotalEnergies (80 per cent) and OQ (20 per cent), the global integrated energy group of the Sultanate of Oman.
Marsa LNG, as a 33.19 per cent shareholder in a consortium that will develop Block 10, will be entitled to a share of natural gas of about 24,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) – output that it can channel as feedstock for the proposed LNG plant at Sohar Port.
In a statement following the signing on Tuesday, TotalEnergies said that Marsa LNG would sell its share of natural gas from Block 10 to the Omani government for a “duration of 18 years or until the start-up of the Marsa LNG plant”.
Other players with an interest in Block 10 are Shell Integrated Gas Oman BV (53.45 per cent) and OQ (13.36 per cent).
Along with Marsa LNG, they signed a concession agreement with the Omani Ministry of Energy and Minerals to develop Block 10 with Shell as the operator.
“We are pleased to sign these agreements with the Sultanate of Oman and further develop our activities in the country while contributing to develop its energy sector in a more sustainable manner,” said Laurent Vivier, Senior Vice-President Middle East and North Africa, Exploration and Production, at TotalEnergies.
TotalEnergies’ plans for an LNG plant in Sohar Port, dedicated to the production of low-carbon liquefied natural gas (LNG) as bunker for maritime vessels, was first unveiled in 2019.
While the global economic downturn compounded by the pandemic has somewhat slowed progress in the delivery of the project, three leading international engineering firms — McDermott, JGC and TechnipFMC — are still competing for a contract to provide the front-end engineering design (FEED) for the LNG plant.
Marsa LNG, with a proposed capacity of 1 million tonnes per annum of LNG, will seek to capitalise on new fuel regulations issued by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) obliging ship-owners to use low sulphur bunker fuel with a sulphur content of no more than 0.5 per cent — specs that came into effect from 2020.
When fully operational, Marsa LNG is also set to be the first LNG bunkering facility of its kind in the Middle East.
But seeking to strengthen its credentials as a low-carbon energy producer, TotalEnergies has decided to operate Marsa LNG as a carbon-neutral project.
To this end, the company plans to invest in a solar farm, with battery storage capacity as well, to power the plant with ‘green’ electricity generated solely from the sun’s energy.
In effect, output from Marsa LNG will not only be ‘clean’ — relative to other fossil fuels — but the liquefaction process itself will be essentially carbon-free as well.