Unlike most of its regional peers, Oman is not a member of Opec, the international oil producers’ group, but it has the largest oil reserves of any non-Opec member in the region. The first economically viable oil find in the sultanate was made in 1962 and the first exports were made in 1967.

Oman key figures
Oil reserves (billion barrels), 2012 5.5
Gas reserves (trillion cubic feet), 2012 30
Refinery output (thousand barrels a day), 2010 170
Exports of oil (thousand barrels a day), 2010 785
Exports of refined products (thousand barrels a day), 2010 29
Source: EIA

Today, Oman’s oil reserves are estimated at 5.5 billion barrels by the US’ Energy Information Administration (EIA), while natural gas reserves amount to 30 trillion cubic feet.

Raising output

Most of the country’s oil reserves are found onshore. However, extracting them from the ground has proved challenging and Oman is among the regional leaders in using enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques to maintain its output. That has paid off in recent years, with oil production rising from 715,000 barrels a day (b/d) in 2007 to about 891,000 b/d in 2011, according to the UK’s BP, reversing the trend of decline at the beginning of the century.

All of Oman’s key export markets for its oil are located to the east, with the most important including China, South Korea and Japan. State-owned Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) is 60 per cent owned by the government, with the remaining shareholders consisting of UK/Dutch Shell Group (34 per cent), France’s Total (4 per cent) and Portugal’s Partex Oil & Gas Group (2 per cent).

Oman major projects
Project Client Sector Value ($m)
Khazzan and Makarem fields BP Gas extraction/ production 15,000
Duqm refinery Duqm Refinery & Petrochemical Industries Oil refining/ processing 6,000
Deepwater gas pipeline Ministry of Oil & Gas Gas pipeline/ transmission 4,000
Liquefied natural gas plant trains 1 and 2 Oman LNG Gas processing plant 2,500
Sohar refinery expansion Oman Refineries & Petrochemicals Company Oil refining/ processing 1,500
For further information visit www.meedprojects.com

There has also been a steady rise in natural gas production in recent decades to match the rise in crude output. At the turn of the century, Oman was producing 0.5 billion cubic feet a day (cf/d) of natural gas, but by 2011, this had risen to 2.6 billion cf/d.

The sultanate has also been developing its liquefied natural gas (LNG) export capacity and today is the ninth-largest LNG exporter in the world. There are three liquefaction trains, two owned by Oman LNG and one by Qalhat LNG. All three are located on the east coast near Sur, with a total production capacity of 10.4 million tonnes a year.

Both LNG firms are state-owned. The government owns 51 per cent of Oman LNG, with Shell Group holding 30 per cent and smaller stakes held by Total (5.5 per cent), Korea LNG (5 per cent), Mitsubishi Corporation (2.8 per cent), Mitsui & Company (2.8 per cent) and Itochu Corporation (0.9 per cent), all of Japan, and Partex (2 per cent).

Oman tenders
Tender Client Closing date
Supply of chemicals and technical support services Oman Refineries & Petrochemicals Company 10-Dec-12
Expansion of tanker truck loading facility Oman Refineries & Petrochemicals Company 14-Jan-13
For further information visit www.meed.com/tenders

The government also directly owns 46.8 per cent of Qalhat LNG, while Oman LNG owns 36.8 per cent and Spain’s Union Fenosa Gas owns 7.4 per cent.

The two most significant customers for Oman’s LNG are located in the Far East. In 2011, Japan accounted for 5.4 billion cubic metres (bcm) of the total export of 10.9 bcm, according to BP. South Korea bought a further 5 bcm, with the remaining going to Taiwan, Spain and India.

Other international oil firms with a local presence include Ireland’s Circle Oil, Thailand’s PTT Exploration & Production, the US’ Hunt Oil Company and Malaysia’s Petronas.