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Shell to step up gas exploration in Oman

  • : Natural gas
  • 24/05/23

Oman Shell is actively looking to explore more wells in the sultanate's onshore blocks after production reached a "little above" the plateau target of 500mn ft³/d (5.2bn m³/yr) in its core block 10 this month, according to the oil company's country chairman, Walid Hadi.

Hadi told Argus that the company has embarked on an "aggressive exploration" campaign to unlock the potential in Oman's core onshore blocks 10 and 11 in which Shell has operating stakes. The blocks are part of the gas-rich Greater Barik area in the northern segment of state-controlled PDO's block 6 concession in the central region of Oman.

"Oman is a niche gas sector," Hadi said. "It may not be the biggest LNG exporter in the world, but there is quite a sophisticated and high-quality gas system in place." Shell, which is also the majority private shareholder in state-owned Oman LNG, expects to boost gas production for domestic purposes and eventually for exports, according to Hadi.

"We will require new gas if we are going into LNG," he said. "We know there is more potential in the blocks, but we still don't know at what scale it can produce as the two blocks are a combination of undiscovered and discovered resources."

TotalEnergies said earlier this year that Oman LNG was eyeing a fourth train at its 11.4mn t/yr Qalhat LNG export terminal, having already added 1mn t/yr in liquefaction capacity through plant debottlenecking.

Hadi said that Shell is planning on a "material increase" in gas production and would be able to conclude the growth potential of the blocks by mid or late 2025, when it completes the exploration programme.

Gas from block 10 is sold to the government through the Integrated Gas Company, which is the entity that allocates the gas across different sectors based on certain policies and value criteria, according to Hadi.

Shell has a 53.45pc stake in the block, with Marsa LNG and OQ holding 33.19pc and 13.36pc, respectively. The partners signed the concession agreement for block 10 in December 2021. The adjacent block 11 was awarded to OQ and TotalEnergies in 2021.

When it comes to block 11, the company did make a material gas discovery, which is being appraised this year, but it is too early to talk about the production potential, Hadi said. "We also see quite a bit of potential in block 11 already."

"Exploration is a very uncertain business," he added. "You have to go after a lot of things and only few will end up working. We are at 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's going to come from."

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