Block 18 now covers an area of 21,440 square kilometres, slightly smaller than the 23,800-square-kilometre block 41. The ministry says that the two blocks have been selected after interpretation of new GO2002 2D seismic acquired by PGS. ‘The GO2002 survey comprises 5,839 line-kilometres with an additional 2,738 line-kilometres of reprocessed data, both available from water depths of 50-3,000 metres,’ PGS says. All the seismic data will be made available in two data packages.

The ministry is planning to tender more offshore blocks. The UK’s Spectrum is carrying out seismic work in the Arabian Sea on several new areas, after the signing 12 months ago of a six-year contract to provide the ministry with seismic survey services. The appointment of Spectrum is part of a new strategy by the ministry to carry out seismic work prior to offering open blocks for development.

With output having fallen substantially at Petroleum Development Oman over the past two years, the ministry is placing greater emphasis on exploration in a drive to restore oil and condensate production.