Oman’s economy has grown substantially since 2004, due in large part to its abundance of oil reserves. However, a decline in oil production slowed economic growth rates in 2019 to 0.5 percent. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to contribute to a 2.8 percent decline in GDP in 2020.
The economic outlook for 2021 is much better, as the International Monetary Fund projects a 3 percent rise in GDP as a result of increased oil and gas output. The Ghazeer gas field, which began production in October, should help in that regard.
Here is everything you need to know about the project and four other infrastructure developments in Oman.
1. Ghazeer Gas Field
The Ghazeer gas field development was approved in January 2018 and completed four months ahead of schedule. Its opening will substantially increase oil and gas production at Block 61, which also includes the Khazzan gas field.
BP, in conjunction with Oman’s Ministry of Energy & Minerals, OQ, and PETRONAS, oversaw both projects. It drilled wells in record time while maintaining an excellent safety record in completion of the Ghazeer gas field.
Moreover, wells were drilled and tested under the Green Completions concept, which involved the rerouting of hydrocarbons to the production facility. BP adopted this approach in 2019 and has since cut more than 200,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions.
“I am delighted to see BP bringing the Ghazeer gas field online—it’s an important project for Oman and we are extremely proud of it,” said Minister of Energy & Minerals of the Sultanate of Oman Dr. Mohammed Al Rumhy. “The gas from Ghazeer will contribute towards Oman’s 2040 vision in terms of providing additional energy to local industries as well as diversifying the economy.”
Block 61 is now capable of producing 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas per day as well as in excess of 65,000 barrels of associated condensate. It has more than 10 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas resources and the potential to deliver around 35 percent of the country’s total gas demand.
2. OETC Connecting Electricity Transmission Network
Oman’s Rabt Project will connect its national grid in the northern region with the Tanweer network, Petroleum Development of Oman Company (PDO) electricity transmission network, and the Special Economic Zone at Duqm electricity network.
In October 2020, the Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC) awarded $474 million in contracts to complete the first phase of the project. This will include the construction of 400 kV grid stations at Suwaihat and Barik and connection of the stations to the PDO network.
Five main grid stations and 660 kilometers of 400-kV overhead lines, in total, will be constructed and set up during the five-phase project. Additional grid stations will be established in Nuhaida, Duqm, and Mahout. Once completed, the Rabt Project will improve the reliability of the PDO network and provide secure and stable electricity to the Special Economic Zone in Duqm.
This should help large companies operating in the zone and, in turn, attract more investors and create additional employment opportunities. Moreover, the project will make it easier for Oman to produce 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, at which point wind farms and solar energy stations in the Al Wusta region should be added to the network.
3. IBX Data Center Opens in Barka
The first-ever carrier-neutral data hub in Oman opened in October. The IBX data center was launched in partnership between Oman Telecommunications Company and Equinix. It will allow carriers as well as cloud and content providers to store critical IT infrastructure.
Because of the Western Asian country’s proximity to both Africa and Europe, the center will also act as a regional interconnection hub serving critical global business markets in both continents. It features 725 cabinets and, with more than 23,600 square feet of space, has capacity to expand beyond 2,150 cabinets.
4. IKEA Megastore in Muscat
The country will open its first IKEA store in Muscat’s Oman Avenues Mall during Q1 2022. This will further its efforts to establish Oman as a prominent investment destination in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.
The announcement was made in October after an agreement was signed between Al Futtaim Group and Al Taher Group. Construction is already underway on the two-floor megastore, which is expected to be among the largest IKEA outlets in the MENA region. The project will also feature construction on surrounding roads to handle increased traffic and the development of parking facilities.
5. Khatib & Alami Wins Year in Infrastructure 2020 Award
Oman company Khatib & Alami was one of two Middle East organizations to receive a Bentley Systems 2020 Infrastructure Award in October. The multidisciplinary design consultancy won the award for its Geo-enabling Reality Model Tips and Tricks initiative for a project in Muscat. The Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai also received recognition.