No takers for offshore blocks

19 September 2003
The Ministry of Oil & Gas and the US/Norwegian PGS Geophysical are looking at alternative ways to tender the three Gulf of Oman deepwater concessions contained in the sultanate's first licensing round, after the 15 September deadline passed with no proposals being submitted by international oil companies (IOCs). 'We are discussing how we should go forward on marketing the three blocks so that they are more attractive to IOCs,' a project source said in mid-September (MEED 21:2:03).

The licensing round covered three offshore blocks, 18A, 18B and 41 with a total area of 45,000 square kilometres, running from the south of Muscat up to the edge of Musandam. The ministry had put considerable effort into marketing the blocks, holding roadshows in London, Houston and Singapore in the spring.

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 April signing 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 (Oman) over the past two years, the ministry is placing greater emphasis on exploration in a drive to get oil and condensate production back up to 950,000 barrels a day (MEED 2:5:03).

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