Oman awards US firm Occidental onshore oil and gas asset

Occidental, a big player in the US Permian shale basins derives 45 per cent of its operations from the Middle East

Oman. Muscat. Censers Monument. (Photo by: Hermes Images/AGF/UIG via Getty Images)

Oman’s oil and gas ministry signed an exploration and production agreement with Occidental Petroleum for an onshore block in the sultanate, as the US energy firm shifts focus to Middle Eastern energy assets.

Occidental will explore for hydrocarbons in Block 72, which spans an area of 3,530 square kilometres, Oman’s oil and gas ministry said in a tweet.

Houston-headquartered Occidental Petroleum, the biggest player in the Permian shale basin in the US has been looking for cheap, sustainable oil and gas assets in the Middle East. In an interview with The National earlier in the month, Occidental chief executive Vicki Hollub said the company anticipated a "shift in production" to the Middle East over the coming years, even as it looked to expand into opportunities further downstream - namely refining and chemicals - in the region. Currently the Middle East accounts for 45 per cent of Occidental's operations.

Ms Hollub said in her interview with The National that the company was committed to advancing exploration in blocks 9, 27 and 30 in Oman following completion of 3D seismic assessment.

Occidental's win in Oman comes weeks after the firm picked up an onshore block in Abu Dhabi for a participating fee of Dh893 million ($244m).

The US energy firm will hold a 100 per cent stake in Adnoc’s onshore Block 3 in the exploration phase as part of a 35-year concession agreement.

The block, which lies adjacent to the ultra sour Shah gas field - also developed and operated by Occidental - could hold as much as 3.5 billion barrels of oil and up to a trillion cubic feet of gas, Ms Hollub said at the time.