Oman diversifies hydrocarbons value chain

17 December 2023

Oman’s efforts to diversify its hydrocarbons value chain and derive more economic benefits from it are gaining traction.

State energy conglomerate OQ is pushing ahead with oil and gas projects aligned with its Oman Vision 2040 goals of achieving energy security, increasing revenues for the sultanate, and expanding its business portfolio into new energy frontiers such as hydrogen.

Oman aims to become a leading green hydrogen hub, producing 1 million tonnes a year (t/y) of green hydrogen by 2030 and 8.5 million t/y by 2050. Achieving this will require a total capital expenditure budget of $140bn, with a further investment of $230bn to unlock the hydrogen export economy.

While Muscat takes steps to establish a thriving green hydrogen ecosystem, OQ and its partners are also moving forward with plans to realise the sultanate’s blue hydrogen potential.

Hydrogen foray

OQ Gas Networks (OQGN), a subsidiary of OQ, is understood to be making progress with a project to build a cross-country hydrogen transport pipeline network, following its initial public offering (IPO) and listing on the Muscat Stock Exchange in October.

“While most discussion surrounds green hydrogen, there is also the potential for blue hydrogen production … which would provide additional long-term support to gas flows through the natural gas transportation network (NGTN) and is increasingly likely given the probable surplus upstream gas capacity,” OQGN said in its IPO prospectus.

“Blending hydrogen into gas streams could be an interim strategy to kickstart hydrogen production before demand is sufficient to justify investments in dedicated hydrogen pipelines,” the company added.

To that end, OQGN commissioned a feasibility study in 2022 to assess how much hydrogen could be introduced into the NGTN “before adverse effects would be noticeable and too expensive to mitigate”.

The company is understood to have advanced the study in 2023, and is expected to firm up the project’s engineering, procurement and construction tendering schedule in 2024.

OQGN also signed a memorandum of understanding with Belgium-based energy infrastructure company Fluxys International in October to jointly explore cooperation in developing hydrogen and carbon-capture projects in Oman.

Separately, the UK/Dutch Shell is studying the prospect of establishing a blue hydrogen and blue ammonia production facility in Oman, according to a local media report.

The company is considering Duqm, located in the southeast of the sultanate on its Arabian Sea coastline, as the location for the proposed project.

Shell is understood to be collaborating with the majority state-owned Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) for the planned blue hydrogen and blue ammonia production complex.

Through the project, Shell intends to tap into the recovery and storage of carbon dioxide discharged from its operations, while PDO plans to produce blue hydrogen.

Oman’s Energy & Minerals Ministry is supporting Shell in its study of the technical and commercial feasibility of the project, according to the report.

Raising upstream capacity

Maintaining oil and gas production capacity in the long term continues to be a priority for Oman.

In November, OQ awarded Canada-based Enerflex the main contract for a project to expand the production potential of the Bisat oil field in the sultanate. Enerflex will undertake the project, estimated to be valued at $200m, on a design, build, own, operate and maintain (DBOOM) basis.

The project represents the latest expansion phase of the Bisat oil field, situated in central Oman’s Block 60 hydrocarbons concession. Discovered in 2017, the Bisat oil field consists of about 165 oil wells and three crude oil processing plants.

The first crude oil processing plant at the field started operations in August 2019 and the second began running in September 2021. The third plant was commissioned on a trial basis in November 2022.

OQ raised production at the Bisat oil field from 5,000 barrels a day (b/d) in 2019 to 55,000 b/d by the third quarter of 2022. This is understood to be the fastest annual growth in oil field production in the Middle East. 

In January 2023, OQ announced that the Bisat oil field development had attained a production milestone of 60,000 b/d.

Gas production project

The majority state-owned PDO is preparing to issue the main tender for a project to build an integrated facility to produce gas from the Budour and Tayseer fields in 2024.

The project aims to expand the capacity of the existing gas production and processing facility at Tayseer. It represents the second development phase of the gas field. PDO also seeks to appraise, produce and process sweet gas from the Budour field, about 50 kilometres west of the Tayseer field.

PDO intends to appoint a contractor to deliver the combined Budour-Tayseer sour gas processing facility project on a DBOOM basis. It is projected to have a capacity of 78.39 million cubic feet a day (cf/d) and 1,167 cubic metres a day (cm/d) of unstabilised condensate.

The facility will handle gas exports of about 70 million cf/d and stabilised condensate exports of 950 cm/d, with a water handling capacity of 340 cm/d.

MEED's January 2024 special report on Oman also includes:

> ECONOMY: Muscat performs tricky budget balancing act 
> BANKINGOmani banks look to projects for growth
> POWER & WATEROman expands grid connectivity
Indrajit Sen
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