Q&A: Oman Shell to balance upstream with renewables

  • Market: Crude oil, Hydrogen, Natural gas
  • 24/05/24

Shell has been in Oman for decades now and had a front row seat to its energy evolution from primarily an oil producing nation to now a very gas-rich and gas-leaning hydrocarbons producer. Argus spoke to Oman Shell's country chairman Walid Hadi about the company's energy strategy in the sultanate. Edited highlights follow:

How would you characterize Oman's energy sector today, and where do new energies fit into that?

Oman is one of the countries where there is quite a bit of overlap between how we see the energy transition and how the country sees it.

Oman is clear that hydrocarbons will continue to play a role in its energy system for a long period of time. But it is also looking to decrease the carbon intensity to the most extent which is viable. We need to work on creating new energy systems or new components of energy system like hydrogen and EV charging to facilitate that. It is what we would like to call a 'just transition' because you think about it from macroeconomic perspective of the country and its economic health.

Shell is involved across the energy spectrum in Oman – from upstream gas to alternative, clean energies. What is Shell's overall strategy for the country?

In Oman, our strategic foundation has three main pillars. The first is around oil and liquids and our ambition is to sustain oil and liquids production.

At the same time, we aim to significantly reduce carbon intensity from the oil production coming from PDO. The second strategic pillar is gas, and our ambition here is to grow the amount of gas we are producing in Oman and also to help Oman grow its LNG export capabilities.

The more committed we are in unlocking the gas reserves in the country, the more we can support Oman's growth, diversification, and the resilience of its economy through investments and LNG revenue. Gas also offers a very logical and nice link into blue and green hydrogen, whether in sequence or as a stepping stone to scale the hydrogen economy in the country.

The last strategic pillar is to establish low-carbon value chains, predominantly centered around hydrogen, more likely blue hydrogen in the short term and very likely material green in the long term, which is subject to regulations and markets developing.

How would you view Oman's potential to be a major exporter of green hydrogen?

When examining the foundational aspects of green hydrogen manufacturing, such as the quality of solar and wind resources and their onshore complementarity, Oman emerges as a highly competitive country in terms of its capabilities.

But where we are in technology and where we are in global markets and on policy frameworks — the demand centers for green hydrogen are maturing but not yet matured. I think there will be a period of discovery for green hydrogen globally, not just for Oman, in the way LNG started 20-30 years ago. When it does, Oman will be well-positioned to play global role in the global hydrogen economy.

But the question is, how much time it is going to take us and what kind of multi-collaboration needs to be in place to enable that? The realisation of this potential hinges on several factors: the policies of the Omani government, its bilateral ties with Japan, Korea, and the EU, and the technological advancements within the industry.

Shell has also been looking at developing CCUS opportunities in the country. How big a role can CCUS play in the region's energy transition?

CCUS is going to be an important tool in decarbonising the global energy system. We have several projects globally that we are pursuing for own scope 1, scope 2 emissions reductions, as well as to enable scope 3 emissions with the customers and partners

In Oman, we are pursuing a blue hydrogen project where CCUS is a clear component. This initiative serves as a demonstrative case, helping us gauge the country's potential for CCUS implementation. We are using that as a proof point to understand the potential for CCUS in the country.

At this stage, it's too early to gauge the scale of CCUS adoption in Oman or our specific role within it. However, we are among the pioneers in establishing the initial proof point through our Blue Hydrogen initiative.

You were able to kick off production in block 10 in just over a year after signing the agreement. How are things progressing there?

We have started producing at the plateau levels that we agreed with the government, which is just above 500mn ft³/d.

Block 10 gas is sold to the government, through the government-owned Integrated Gas Company (IGC), which so far has been the entity that purchases gas from various operators in Oman like us, Shell. IGC then allocates that gas on a certain policy and value criteria across different sectors.

We will require new gas if we are going to expand LNG in Oman. There is active gas exploration happening there in Block 10. We know there is more potential in the block. We still don't know at what scale it can be produce gas or the reservoir's characteristics. But blocks 10 and 11 are a combination of undiscovered and discovered resources.

We are aiming to significantly increase gas production through a substantial boost. However, the exact scale and timing of this expansion will only be discernible upon the conclusion of our two-year exploration campaign in the block. We expect to understand the full growth potential by around mid to late 2025.

Do you have any updates on block 11? Has exploration work there begun?

We did have a material gas discovery which is being appraised this year, but it is a bit too early to draw conclusions at this stage.

So, after the appraisal campaign is completed, we will be able to talk more confidently about the production potential. Exploration is a very uncertain business. You must go after a lot of things and only a few will end up working. We have a very aggressive exploration campaign at the moment. We also expect by the end of 2025, we would be in a much better position to determine the next wave of growth and where it is going to come from.

Shell is set to become the largest off taker from Oman LNG, how do you view the LNG markets this year and next?

As a company, we are convinced, that the demand for LNG will grow and it needs to grow if the world is going to achieve the energy transition

Gas must play a role, it has to play a bigger role globally over the time, mainly to replace coal in power generation and given its higher efficiency and lower carbon intensity fuel in the energy mix.

While Oman may not be the largest LNG exporter globally or hold the most significant gas reserves, it is a niche player in the gas sector with a sophisticated and high-quality gas infrastructure. Oman's resource base remains robust, driving ongoing exploration and investment efforts.

This growth trajectory includes catering to domestic needs and servicing industrial hubs like Duqm and Sohar, alongside allocating resources for export purpose. We have the ambition to grow gas for domestic purpose and for gas for eventual exports

Have you identified any international markets to export LNG?

We have been historically and predominantly focused on east and we continue to see east as core LNG market with focus on Japan, Korea, and China.

Europe has also emerged on the back of the Ukraine-Russia crisis as growing demand center for LNG. Over time we might focus on different markets to a certain extent. It will be driven on maximising value for the country.


Sharelinkedin-sharetwitter-sharefacebook-shareemail-share

Related news posts

Argus illuminates the markets by putting a lens on the areas that matter most to you. The market news and commentary we publish reveals vital insights that enable you to make stronger, well-informed decisions. Explore a selection of news stories related to this one.

News
14/06/24

S Africa's ANC, DA agree to form government

S Africa's ANC, DA agree to form government

Cape Town, 14 June (Argus) — South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) and Democratic Alliance (DA) political parties today agreed to form a government while the first sitting of the new parliament was underway. The agreement, which includes the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), paves the way for ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa to be re-elected president. The parties will assume various positions in government broadly in proportion to their share of seats. The government of national unity (GNU) agreement is the result of two weeks of intense negotiations after the ANC lost its long-held majority in the national election on 29 May. It secured 40.2pc of the vote, and the centre-right, pro-market DA retained its position as the official opposition with 21.8pc. The deal scuppers the possibility of an alliance between the ANC and the two largest left-wing parties, MK (uMkhonto weSizwe) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which credit ratings agency Fitch warned could pose risks to macroeconomic stability . MK party unseated the EFF in the election to come third, winning 14.6pc of the vote. The EFF secured 9.5pc, and the IFP came a distant fifth with 3.85pc. The MK and EFF are populist parties that campaigned on agendas including wide-scale land expropriation without compensation, nationalisation of economic assets — including mines, the central bank and large banks and insurers — halting fiscal consolidation and aggressively increasing social grants. The GNU parties agreed the new administration should focus on rapid economic growth, job creation, infrastructure development and fiscal sustainability. Other priorities include building a professional, merit-based and non-partisan public service, as well as strengthening law enforcement agencies to address crime and corruption. Through a national dialogue that will include civil society, labour and business, parties will seek to develop a national social compact to enable South Africa to meet its developmental goals, they said. The GNU will take decisions in accordance with the established practice of consensus, but where no consensus is possible a principle of sufficient consensus will apply. By Elaine Mills Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Find out more
News

Renewable natural gas not ‘major’ for climate: Chevron


13/06/24
News
13/06/24

Renewable natural gas not ‘major’ for climate: Chevron

New York, 13 June (Argus) — The growth of renewable natural gas (RNG) production is great news for the climate, but "to say that it is having a major impact by itself is difficult," the president of Chevron's global gas division said this week at an industry gathering. The US oil major, which has invested in RNG facilities in California , Michigan and elsewhere in recent years, has also boosted its conventional gas production on the heels of a crude-focused acquisition of a Denver-based producer. "I don't want to get called out (for) greenwashing or whatever because the volume is just very small compared to the overall portfolio," Chevron gas division president Freeman Shaheen said at the Northeast LDC Gas Forum in Boston, Massachusetts. Advocates for RNG hail the fuel, comprising methane from landfills and animal waste projects that is processed into pipeline-quality gas, as a boon for the climate. This is not only because its use displaces conventional natural gas produced in hydrocarbon drilling — so-called ‘fossil gas' — but because its production takes methane that would have been released directly into the atmosphere and burns it as fuel, releasing CO₂ — a less potent greenhouse gas — instead. But RNG today comprises just 0.5pc of the North American gas market. Even with continued policy support and technological development, Wood Mackenzie projects it will grow to just 4 Bcf/d (113mn m³/d), or 3pc of the market, by 2050. This is why some policymakers, such as Massachusetts' utilities regulatory, have rejected gas distributors' calls to decarbonize the gas system with RNG. The energy industry simply has not invested enough in RNG over the past several decades for it to reach the scale needed to play a bigger role in cutting emissions, Shaheen said. By Julian Hast Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

UK political parties repeat existing stances on energy


13/06/24
News
13/06/24

UK political parties repeat existing stances on energy

London, 13 June (Argus) — The two main UK political parties have set out their plans, including on energy and climate change, with just three weeks until the general election. Energy security and the cost to consumers is a recurring theme for both, but the manifestos present some marked differences in approach to the energy transition. Both the incumbent Conservative and opposition Labour parties doubled down on existing positions in their respective manifestos. The Conservative party said that it remains committed to the UK's 2050 net zero emissions target, but promises a "pragmatic and proportionate" route. The party's manifesto guarantees "no new green levies or charges while accelerating the rollout of renewables". The UK's net zero goal is legally-binding, and was passed with significant cross-party support under a Conservative government in 2019. The Conservatives have been in power since 2010, and fielded five prime ministers in that time. Recent polling data show a substantial lead for Labour, which performed well at local elections in May. Labour placed strong focus on the opportunity the transition offers, saying that it would place the UK at the "forefront of climate action by creating the green jobs of the future at home and driving forward the energy transition on the global stage". The party has committed to zero-carbon power by 2030, although it would "maintain a strategic reserve of gas power stations to guarantee security of supply", it said. The Conservative manifesto reiterates the party's plans to build new gas-fired power plants. The party had previously committed to a decarbonised power grid by 2035, in line with a G7 pledge, although that is not mentioned in its manifesto. The two main parties clearly diverge on their approaches to North Sea oil and gas production. The Conservatives aim to keep the windfall tax — which effectively results in a 75pc rate — on oil and gas producers in place "until 2028-29, unless prices fall back to normal sooner". Labour confirmed plans to lift the rate to 78pc and run the tax until the end of the next parliament, which is likely to be mid-2029. Labour is also clear that it "will not revoke existing licences" in the North Sea, but it will not issue any new licences — for oil, gas or coal. The Conservatives restated the party's aim to legislate for annual North Sea licensing rounds . Both parties back nuclear energy, including small modular reactors — though those are unlikely to be operational until after 2030. And both pledge to cut planning bureaucracy and tackle grid connections. Labour's plans to "double onshore wind, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind by 2030" would result in installed capacity of 31GW, 48GW and 59GW, respectively, from a baseline of end-2023. The Conservatives' target to triple offshore wind by the end of the next parliament would put installed capacity at 44GW in 2029 — below the 50GW target for 2030 set in 2022 — while it said it supports solar and onshore wind in some circumstances. Finance in focus Both parties are keen to pull in private-sector investment, while Labour took up an original Conservative pledge to "make the UK the green finance capital of the world". And both pledge to address the cost of energy for consumers — Labour through local power generation projects and home insulation upgrades, and the Conservatives by ruling out any further "green levies". The latter plans to reverse London's expansion of the ultra-low emissions zone — originally planned by Conservative then-mayor and later prime minister Boris Johnson. Labour said that it would restore a phase-out date of 2030 for new internal combustion engine cars — which prime minister Rishi Sunak in September pushed back to 2035 . On an international level, both parties mention climate leadership at summits such as UN Cops. The Conservatives pledged to "ring-fence" the UK's climate finance commitments, while Labour committed to restore development spending to 0.7pc of gross national income "as soon as fiscal circumstances allow". By Georgia Gratton Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

TTF front-month trades at highest since December 2023


13/06/24
News
13/06/24

TTF front-month trades at highest since December 2023

London, 13 June (Argus) — The Netherlands' TTF front-month gas price was trading near the highest level since last year this morning and afternoon as LNG supply outages contribute to market tightness. The price traded at €36.12/MWh ($38.88/MWh) on the Intercontinental exchange at 15:00 London time today. If the price holds around this level until the close it would be the highest front-month assessment since 8 December 2023. The contract opened at €35.43/MWh on the exchange, up from Argus' Wednesday assessment of €35.20/MWh, and climbed in the morning on the news of an extended shutdown at an Australian LNG terminal. Operations at Chevron's 8.9mn t/yr Wheatstone LNG export terminal in Australia may be disrupted for several weeks , the firm announced today. Loadings from the terminal have been halted since 10 June because of unplanned maintenance. The outage was previously expected to last until 14 June and disrupt delivery of 3-4 cargoes, but could now last until 19-26 June, according to market sources and loading schedules. Although Europe rarely imports cargoes directly from Australia, the reduction in deliveries to northeast Asia will mean prices in that region have to increase to attract more Atlantic-basin cargoes, pulling up the TTF at the same time. Quantities of US LNG on the water have risen sharply since mid-May according to Vortexa data, despite no incentive for floating storage, suggesting that more vessels are taking the longer route to deliver cargoes to northeast Asia ( see US LNG on the water graph ). The Wheatstone shutdown comes on top of a second quarter of planned and unplanned outages at other export terminals. High utilisation rates at terminals mean any downtime translates directly into lower deliveries than expected and contributes to LNG market tightness. The US' 33mn t/yr Sabine Pass terminal may be undergoing maintenance this month, based on reductions in feedgas deliveries. An unplanned outage last month cut deliveries from Australia's 15.6mn t/yr Gorgon terminal, while Peru's 4.4mn t/yr Peru LNG terminal is down for two weeks of maintenance. In addition to LNG supply disruptions, unplanned constraints at Norwegian offshore infrastructure at the beginning of this month removed supply from the European market and pushed up prices. A crack in a pipeline in an offshore hub discovered on 2 June caused a shut-in at the Nyhamna processing plant. The cut in gas production from connected fields over the five days that it took for the plant to restart was equivalent to 2-3 LNG cargoes. Although Norwegian gas production and global LNG loadings have been lower than previously expected, demand in Europe remains muted. Stocks in the EU are higher than ever for the time of year, while industrial demand remains low. Temperatures have held well below normal in much of western Europe since the beginning of the month. Heating demand has been higher than normal for the period, but the weather is already so warm that conditions much cooler than normal can only spur small increases in heating demand. Gas-fired generation was weak in May as increased renewables capacity, strong nuclear output and low aggregate demand cut into the incentive for power sector gas burn. By Rhys Talbot TTF front-month US LNG on the water, mn t Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

Opec reopens rift with IEA on peak demand


13/06/24
News
13/06/24

Opec reopens rift with IEA on peak demand

London, 13 June (Argus) — Opec today reopened a rift with the IEA about the future need for oil, calling the Paris-based agency's forecast for peak demand this decade a "continuation of [its] anti-oil narrative." Opec secretary-general Haitham Al Ghais said the IEA's projection , made earlier this week, is a "dangerous narrative" that "will only lead to energy volatility on a potentially unprecedented scale." He made his case in a commentary for consultancy Energy Aspects that Opec made publicly available. This is not the first time the two organisations have clashed over the future trajectory for oil demand growth. When IEA executive director Fatih Birol first floated the idea of a peak demand this decade in 2023, Al Ghais said this was "extremely risky and impractical". Birol and the IEA have been keen to stress that there will be no sharp demand fall beyond its predicted peak year of 2029, and have repeatedly said there will be a gradual decline perhaps over as long as 20 years. Al Ghais said Opec does not see peak oil demand by the end of the decade — he said in January that the scenario "is not showing up in any reliable and robust short- and medium-term forecasts" — and took issue with the IEA's forecasts for demand growth to 2030. The watchdog projects a sharp drop off in growth in 2026 to almost nothing in 2029 and a small contraction in 2030. Al Ghais called this unrealistic. The two bodies' demand estimates have been moving further apart in recent months, with Opec's forecast for growth this year now 1.3mn b/d more than that of the IEA. Birol this week acknowledged this is a "big gap", but was diplomatic when pressed for reasons. "We respect all institutions' forecasts," he said. "We will see at the end of the year what the numbers will be." Criticism of the IEA from the upstream industry has magnified since 2021, when the agency said that 2050 climate goals exclude the need for any new oil and gas fields. Saudi oil minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman described this as "la la land" analysis. This year the IEA has come under fire from Republicans in the US Congress who have said the agency is veering into climate advocacy. US industry body API chief executive Mike Sommers said earlier this year the IEA "has become, unfortunately, so politicized that it's just not a reliable source of data any more." By Ben Winkley Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Generic Hero Banner

Business intelligence reports

Get concise, trustworthy and unbiased analysis of the latest trends and developments in oil and energy markets. These reports are specially created for decision makers who don’t have time to track markets day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

Learn more