Oman’s onshore Mabrouk Deep gas discovery could provide a much-needed lifeline to stem the natural decline from the core Block 6 oil and gas region in the centre of the sultanate.

The country’s largest oil and gas producer Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), which holds the Block 6 concession, carried out a drilling programme on the field’s Barik and Miqrat reservoirs and estimates in-place volumes of some 2.9 trillion cubic feet. This would represent an 8.7 per cent increase on Oman’s existing proved reserves, which the UK’s BP estimated at 33.5 trillion cubic feet in 2011.

PDO is currently working on a plan to fast-track a full field development of Mabrouk Deep, which could result in the production of significant volumes of gas by the end of the decade. The state energy firm is also exploring other gas assets in Block 6. Last year, it drilled and tested the Khulud tight gas fields – one of the deepest tight gas developments in the world. These projects will complement the development of the nearby Khazzan tight gas field that the government is planning to carry out with BP.

The Mabrouk Deep discovery could provide the relief needed to keep Oman’s gas output stable

Without the inclusion of the latest finds, Omani gas production is forecast to peak at more than 4.5 billion cubic feet a day in 2019 after the Khazzan start-up, but then decline in the subsequent five years based on falling PDO output. The Mabrouk Deep find could provide the relief needed to keep the sultanate’s gas output stable well into the next decade.

Like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Oman faces a looming gas supply crunch as annual growth in associated gas production falls short of surges in domestic demand. Much of Muscat’s gas supply is locked up in contracts with Asian buyers. It is unlikely that fuel from new gas finds in the coming years will be used to increase these exports. Instead, Muscat must utilise the gas to feed non-oil industrial sectors to provide jobs for its young and growing population.