MUSCAT, DEC 2 – Oman has announced plans to offer six new oil and gas blocks for investment as part of the 2019 Licensing Round due to be unveiled in the first quarter of next year. The new blocks — distributed across the play fairway onshore Oman — underscore sustained investor confidence in the Sultanate’s upstream energy sector, according to a high-level official of the Ministry of Oil and Gas. Dr Saleh al Anboori (pictured), Director-General of Planning and Studies, identified the new acreage on offer as Blocks 70, 73, 74, 75, 76 and 58.
The official made the announcement during the opening session of the 2nd OPAL Oil & Gas Conference at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre here yesterday. Speaking on the theme, ‘Investing in Oman’s Oil & Gas Industry’, he said the six blocks represent new acreage that is surrounded by existing oil and gas fields. They will be awarded against Exploration and Production Sharing Agreements (EPSA). In addition, two other blocks are also open for investment based on ‘One-to-One’ negotiations with qualified international parties with the technological wherewithal and resources required to unlock the challenging hydrocarbon potential of these concessions. They include Block 71, containing the Habhab field, home to a multi-billion barrel (STOIIP) ultra-heavy oil reservoir. The other concession is Block 43B.
According to the official, Oman’s upstream sector has remained a magnet for local and international investment by E&P players even when the global oil market has been in relative turmoil. As many as 29 blocks are currently the subject of EPSA agreements, up from 17 blocks in the year 2000, he said. Of this total, 12 blocks are currently producing hydrocarbons, up from four in 2000.
“This tells you that the investment environment is attractive to local and international players despite the fact that Oman’s geology is complex and challenging,” Dr Al Anboori remarked.
In addition to investments in Exploration & Production (E&P) activities, Oman’s oilfield sector also abounds with investment opportunities linked to, among other areas, the need for specialist technology solutions to address major challenges saddling the industry.
Notable is the example of ‘produced water’ — oil-contaminated water generated as a byproduct of oil production. For nearly every barrel of oil that is produced in the Sultanate, around nine barrels of ‘produced water’ is yielded, requiring significant investment and energy to safely and sustainably dispose of this resource.
“Investment required in water shutoffs and water disposal,” said Dr Al Anboori. “Operators such as Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) exert a lot of effort in managing these volumes through technologies like wetlands, and so on. The industry is also trying to eliminate shallow disposal of this resource to prevent contamination of groundwater.”
One other option being weighed
is the use of produced water for fraccing operations in the Sultanate, he added.