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Oman gearing up to tap offshore oil and gas opportunities

Mohsin al Hadhrami, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals
Mohsin al Hadhrami, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals

Seeking to sustain hydrocarbon production as it transitions to a green energy future, the Sultanate of Oman plans to intensify its focus on opportunities in its vast, largely untapped offshore sector.

According to Mohsin al Hadhrami (pictured), Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, new acreage will need to be opened up for investment and development if current production levels are to be maintained over the long term. Going forward, this focus will increasingly encompass offshore opportunities, he noted.

“... we are dedicating more attention to offshore opportunities,” the Under-Secretary said. “This area is still under development, but we are working on it and we see offshore exploration activities coming soon,” he stated in an interview featured in The Energy Year (formerly The Oil & Gas Year), a leading UK-based news portal focused on the global energy sector.

Earlier, Al Hadhrami underlined the Oil & Gas sector’s pivotal role in funding Oman’s eventual transition to a low-carbon, green hydrogen-centric economy. “The oil and gas sector is our starting point for building a future based on a greener economy because it has been the main driver to create significant in-country value (ICV), boosting job opportunities and encouraging local businesses,” he pointed out.

In the interim, however, Oil & Gas activities will continue to underpin the economy during the changeover – a goal that needs to be secured by attracting new investment in the upstream sector to help sustain output, he explained.

According to the official, oil production averaged above 1 million barrels of oil per day (bopd) during the first 11 months of 2022, which was about 10 per cent higher than the output of 968,000 bopd (approximately) recorded during the corresponding period of 2021.

“Our objective for 2023 is to maintain production, in line with the goals set by Opec+,” the Under-Secretary stressed in the interview.

Significantly, a combination of new investment inflows into the upstream sector, as well as technology, is key to unlocking hydrocarbon opportunities – both onshore and offshore, according to the official.

“The Sultanate’s reservoirs continue to decline, but exploration is always surprising us with good results where technology plays a major part, like advances in seismic acquisition and processing, fracking techniques and what have you. In addition, in order for us to keep production levels up, we will need to attract investments in the sector, which is healthy, and part of our strategy is to open up new blocks,” the Under-Secretary said.

To this end, a new bid round featuring three onshore concessions was launched by the Ministry, said Al Hadhrami, noting that investor interest in the upstream sector continues to be promising.

“We are optimistic about our oil and gas future, as we are receiving good feedback on our initiatives. International companies are showing rising interest in Oman, driven by our stable business environment and robust knowledge in the industry, and supported by more than 50 years of data acquisition and know-how development,” the official said, adding: “In a nutshell, Oman presents a very positive landscape for oil and gas activities to grow, with local talent, stable regulations and a friendly business environment.”

Presently, only three offshore concessions – Block 8 (off Musandam), Block 50 off the east coast, and Block 52 in the south, are the subject of exploration, development and production activities in Oman’s offshore sector.

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