Sami Al Baqi, Technical Director at Petroleum Development Oman speaks to Pipeline Magazine’s Nadia Saleem about upcoming projects in Oman
What is Oman’s oil and gas production target for near- to medium-term?
After setting a 550,000 bpd 10- year plateau commitment over the last decade, PDO has been very successful in consistently maturing additional hydrocarbon reserves which has allowed steady growth in production.
We are confident that our journey to further grow production will continue over the next 5 years too. With our consistent track record of production growth, Petroleum Development Oman’s oil production target is capable of ramping up our long-term production plateau from current levels of approximately 610,000 bpd to a sustainable output of 670,000 bpd in the coming five years.
As for gas, the landscape in the Sultanate of Oman has changed dramatically over the past decade with the country shifting from being gas constrained to having a healthy gas supply. This is supported by recent discoveries and shifting dynamics in the market. PDO is the nation’s swing producer compensating for third party production variations, requiring dynamism in operations to continue to ensure that Oman continues to enjoy uninterrupted gas supply and is maximising condensate production as it has successfully done over the past four decades.
What are the top projects for PDO and where will this production mainly come from?
In PDO we are blessed with a healthy portfolio of projects covering a broad range of opportunities spanning infills, water floods and enhanced oil recovery (EOR). These projects will allow PDO to maintain and increase production in the coming years.
We have two high profile mega projects. These are Rabab Harweel and Yibal Khuff integrated projects. Both these projects rank high globally both in their scale and complexity. These projects offers reserves addition of 500 and 327 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) respectively. Rabab Harweel Integrated Project is currently in the commissioning phase, whilst Yibal Khuff is scheduled to start up in 2021.
Yibal Khuff is an integrated sour oil and gas development which continues to demonstrates PDOs ability to manage large technically challenging projects. As for heavy oil, PDO continues to mature this important resource with a number of chemical (polymer and alkaline surfactant polymer) and thermal (steam floods and cyclic steam stimulation) projects moving through the company’s project maturation funnel.
These projects are expected to provide the foundation for the next wave of heavy oil developments in the Sultanate of Oman.
Which new areas might be coming up for exploration and production?
PDO’s concession area has been covered with seismic over the past decades. However, new seismic techniques such as wide azimuth seismic (WAZ) have allowed us to reshoot seismic. This has led to the discovery of plays previously hard to detect in Oman; reaffirming the significant prospects in our Block 6 concession area.
Innovations coupled with the sophisticated high productivity technology have improved our unit finding rate to around US$1 per barrel. The major gas discovery last year in the Mabrouk area is a good example of how these improvements come together and allow us to replenish our resource base and increase production.
What is being done to improve energy efficiency in production and usage?
In the recent past PDO has been at the forefront of integrating renewable energy and has identified ways to generate value from produced water which was previously considered a nuisance. We are continuously developing innovative renewable solutions to create new growth opportunities for the company and the country. The solar steam project (Miraah) was brought on stream on 2017 and this year together with our partner Glasspoint we will complete Phase 2 of the project. The award winning Nimr Reed Bed project, operated by Bauer Nimr, has recently been expanded to treat 1 million bbl of produced water at a fraction of the cost and energy intensity compared to deep water disposal. We are trialing biosaline agriculture trial at Nimr with the potential of producing biomass and oil seeds. Last year we awarded the contract for the first 100MW solar photovoltaic (PV) independent power plant at Amin. This will be world’s first utility scale solar project to have an oil and gas company as the sole wholesale buyer of electricity. Other renewable projects that PDO is executing include: Solar Car park at its Mina Al Fahal offices in Muscat, solar roof tops for residential units etc. In addition, we are now venturing into new territory whereby we are carrying out feasibility studies in power-to-x to supply areas which currently use gas or liquid for power, by replacing it with heat or hydrogen generation.
How important is digitalisation in this area?
PDO has been quick to embrace the fourth industrial revolution where we are adopting digitalisation and integrating it into our value stream where it applies. This is taking place across the organisation from the sand face of the well to the way we generate our field development plans. The ability to efficiently handle large data sets is only made possible through adopting various digitalisation techniques.
PDO was at the forefront through the introduction of systems such as NIBRAS which allowed continuous monitoring of data coming from our vast well stocks to our workstations at PDO headquarters. This led to proactive well intervention, reduced well deferment, and sustained oil production.
The company has also created a digitalisation department which is quickly adopting new technologies and integrating it into our daily routines to ensure that our systems are equipped to quickly integrate with the continued wave of digitalisation developments.
Currently we have more than 220 ongoing digital projects, some of which are at the forefront of the Industry like machine learning, predictive analytics, robotics in finance and many more.