BRIGHT PROSPECTS

Oil and Gas - - CONTENT -

As PDO’s Gas Di­rec­torate cel­e­brates 40 years of un­in­ter­rupted sup­plies of nat­u­ral gas this year, Ibrahim Hamood Salim Al Waili, Gas Plan­ning and Eco­nom­ics Man­ager, talks to Oom­men John P on the mile­stone achieve­ments and plans for the fu­ture

CAN YOU SHARE DE­TAILS OF KEY MILE­STONES AND PDO’S CON­TRI­BU­TION TO OMAN’S GAS PRO­DUC­TION SINCE 1978?

To start with, gas was dis­cov­ered in Oman be­fore oil. Not many peo­ple know this fact. One of the ex­plo­ration gas wells in the gi­ant Yibal gas field was drilled in the year 1962 but this could not be de­vel­oped on a com­mer­cial scale for a num­ber of years. His Majesty Sul­tan Qa­boos in­au­gu­rated the Gov­ern­ment Gas Plant at Yibal on Oc­to­ber 29, 1978, mark­ing the of­fi­cial be­gin­ning of the Sul­tanate’s gas in­dus­try. So we can rightly say that the year 1978 was a mile­stone as the busi­ness of gas com­menced in the coun­try.

Ini­tially, the gas pro­duc­tion level was below five mil­lion met­ric cu­bic me­tres a day. From 1989 to 1991, large non-as­so­ci­ated nat­u­ral gas fields were dis­cov­ered in cen­tral Oman. Saih Rawl was the big­gest dis­cov­ery in the cen­tral part of Oman in the 1990s. That dis­cov­ery opened a new era for the gas in­dus­try in Oman. And then we de­cided to build a cen­tral pro­cess­ing plant at Saih Rawl, which is one of the big­gest projects in the coun­try.

Oman LNG, the first liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas (LNG) project of Oman in Sur was set up to man­age and op­er­ate the “down­stream” of Oman’s gas op­er­a­tions, in­volv­ing mainly the liq­ue­fac­tion, trans­porta­tion and re­spec­tive sales of the pro­duced LNG. Af­ter that, PDO dis­cov­ered other gas fields in Oman, and the gas pro­duc­tion rose from 5 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres per day to 50 m3 over a pe­riod of 15 years. In 2007, an­other land­mark was reached when the Kau­ther gas plant was brought on stream. As we move ahead, there is a feel­ing that we dis­cover a gi­ant gas field ev­ery five years. Lately, we dis­cov­ered Mabrouk North East, which is our sec­ond big­gest field af­ter Saih Rawl and sets up a bright fu­ture for gas sup­ply for the next 20 years or so. PDO has a ded­i­cated

Gas Ex­plo­ration de­part­ment and it will con­tinue dis­cov­er­ing new gas fields.

Un­til Septem­ber 2017, PDO con­trib­uted more than 95 per cent of the coun­try’s gas sup­ply. BP came on stream in 2007, but PDO is still the dom­i­nant sup­plier.

HOW HAS TECH­NOL­OGY BEEN USED TO HELP GAS PRO­DUC­TION?

This year, PDO’s Gas Di­rec­torate cel­e­brates 40 years of un­in­ter­rupted sup­plies of nat­u­ral gas. Over the past four decades of gas in­dus­try, there have been lots of tech­nol­ogy-driven break­throughs. And it all started with the Yibal field, which was rel­a­tively sim­ple to start with. How­ever, our work has be­come more com­plex as we tap into deeper, tighter, un­con­ven­tional finds. The reser­voir at Khu­lud is a good ex­am­ple of where we have used hy­draulic frac­tur­ing (frack­ing) to ex­tract gas from tight rock for­ma­tions. We also have sev­eral ini­tia­tives to sus­tain gas flows from reser­voirs that have been in pro­duc­tion for a num­ber of years and have suf­fered a drop in reser­voir pres­sure, such as de­ple­tion com­pres­sion. Tech­nol­ogy is evolv­ing. The other side of the coin is re­duc­ing the gas con­sump­tion in our op­er­a­tions so it can be used for other value-adding sec­tors of our econ­omy. In this re­spect, re­new­able en­ergy is a key fo­cus for the fu­ture. Waste-to-en­ergy, so­lar, wind and oth­ers are all on our radar as we evolve to a fully fledged en­ergy com­pany. There are a num­ber of things to im­prove sus­tain­abil­ity of gas pro­duc­tion and utilise other sources for power gen­er­a­tion.

PDO’S SUP­PORT TO SMEs…

PDO has been a cham­pion of lo­cal SMEs through our In-Coun­try Value strat­egy to en­sure more of the wealth of the oil and gas in­dus­try stays in Oman. Across the whole value chain in gas and be­yond, we are work­ing hard to build up Omani busi­nesses and diver­sify the econ­omy. A thriv­ing SME com­mu­nity is vi­tal for the Sul­tanate’s sus­tain­able eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and we ring-fence our con­tracts to en­sure a scope of work for lo­cal com­pa­nies so they can build up their skills and ex­per­tise. Of course, the gas we pro­duce fu­els our econ­omy so we need to con­tinue our record of ro­bust and re­li­able de­liv­ery.

WHAT IS THE CUR­RENT STA­TUS ON EN­ERGY TRANS­FOR­MA­TION?

PDO will not lose its fo­cus on en­ergy. We have come a long way through our fo­cus on up­stream oil and gas, but cli­mate change re­al­i­ties and the need to re­duce our de­pen­dency on fos­sil fu­els mean we need to evolve into a fully fledged en­ergy com­pany, with a fo­cus on re­new­ables and lev­er­ag­ing our ser­vices and ex­per­tise. Of course, oil and gas will re­main our core busi­ness for years to come but we need to start mak­ing the tran­si­tion now.. Look­ing at the fu­ture prospects, we truly be­lieve that we have a bright fu­ture ahead of us in the gas in­dus­try. But it’s full of chal­lenges. And we need to main­tain fo­cus and stay the course and build on our achieve­ments. The fu­ture is bright. We have con­fi­dence of dis­cov­er­ing more gas. Some of it will be easy to ex­tract and some of it may be dif­fi­cult. But we see a big mar­ket for gas as an in­creas­ingly valu­able source of af­ford­able and low-car­bon en­ergy.

PDO’S FO­CUS ON HU­MAN RE­SOURCES AND USE OF NEW TECH­NOLO­GIES?

New tech­nol­ogy is al­ways an en­abler and it will con­tinue to be so as we en­ter the Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion. PDO has de­voted a lot of time, man­power and money to in­vest in new tech­nolo­gies to en­sure safe, ef­fi­cient, re­spon­si­ble ex­plo­ration and pro­duc­tion. We cur­rently have more than 90 new tech­nolo­gies at var­i­ous stages of mat­u­ra­tion from trial to de­ploy­ment and we have a suc­cess rate of more than 90%. In con­crete terms, let’s look at the Yibal sta­tion which was com­mis­sioned in 1978. It is still work­ing, 40 years down the line be­cause we have in­tro­duced new tech­nolo­gies and in­vested in re­li­a­bil­ity and in­tegrity. The Yibal sta­tion was built for 25 years, but due to sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ments in new tech­nolo­gies, it is still run­ning.

Of course, our peo­ple re­main our key as­set. The com­pany al­ways tries to en­sure that peo­ple en­hance their knowl­edge and de­velop their skills while work­ing with us. In the Gas Di­rec­torate, and across PDO, we are al­ways at­tract­ing and fos­ter­ing top qual­ity staff who are all com­mit­ted to giv­ing

PDO’s Gas Di­rec­torate cel­e­brates 40 years of un­in­ter­rupted sup­plies of nat­u­ral gas, this year. Over the past four decades of gas in­dus­try, there have been lots of tech­nol­ogy-driven break­throughs. And it all started with the Yibal field, which was rel­a­tively sim­ple to start with. How­ever, our work has be­come more com­plex as we tap into deeper, tighter, un­con­ven­tional finds

their best for Oman. We have al­ways pro­duced top qual­ity peo­ple. We have around 700 ex­cel­lent peo­ple work­ing in the Gas Di­rec­torate alone, as well as thou­sands of con­trac­tor per­son­nel.

ARE FOR­EIGN IN­VESTORS KEEN ON IN­VEST­MENT IN THE GAS SEC­TOR?

For­eign in­vestors are al­ready present in the coun­try and some have deals al­ready. Oth­ers are now mak­ing a bee­line to in­vest in the gas sec­tor. What we need to do is to be an en­abler for in­vestors and free zones like Duqm, Salalah, Sur and Nizwa, are at­tract­ing them, and will con­tinue to do so.

Forty per cent of the gas from Oman is ex­ported and the rest is con­sumed lo­cally. In­vestors are here from around the globe. China is look­ing at build­ing fac­to­ries in Duqm. The Euro­peans are there too and the US, Iran and In­dia are also keen to in­vest. While some are in the fi­nal stages of ex­press­ing a com­mer­cial in­ter­est, some have signed Mem­o­ran­dums of Un­der­stand­ing.

WHAT ARE THE KEY PROJECTS YOU HAVE PLANNED IN THE FU­TURE?

A lot of ma­jor projects are hap­pen­ing in PDO. We are spend­ing a lot of money in gas. We have de­vel­oped projects that will not only main­tain gas pro­duc­tion but also in­crease our value. The Rabab Har­weel in­te­grated project is PDO’s big­gest-ever project and 8,000 peo­ple from PDO and our con­trac­tors are work­ing on it. It will be on-stream next year and rep­re­sents the big­gest re­serve add in our his­tory. Eighty per cent of what it will pro­duce is gas. The other mega project is Yibal Khuff, the most com­plex we have ever un­der­taken. It will be com­pleted in three years’ time and will be an­other sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor to the na­tion’s oil and gas pro­duc­tion.

A lot of ma­jor projects are hap­pen­ing in PDO. We are spend­ing a lot of money in gas. We have de­vel­oped projects that will not only main­tain gas pro­duc­tion but also in­crease our value. The Rabab Har­weel in­te­grated project is PDO’s big­gest-ever project and 8,000 peo­ple from PDO and our con­trac­tors are work­ing on it

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