Tests conducted by Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) on shale gas accumulations within its Block 6 concession have been “very encouraging”, according to the Managing Director of the majority government owned company. Raoul Restucci said exploration and drilling activities targeting potential shale gas deposits within the concession have yielded promising results, with efforts now focused on testing the “producibility” of the fields.
“The challenge is three-fold: Is it there Can you drill it And can you produce it Yes, we’ve found it. The drilling performance is improving dramatically, and we’re getting better and better at getting lower cost wells. Now, we’re in the phase of testing our producibility through hydraulic fracturing and other technologies. A lot of geo-mechanical work is being done to exactly know how to best develop these fields,” Restucci said in comments to the Observer.
Shales are fine-grained sedimentary rocks in whose tiny bores may be trapped natural gas. Because shales ordinarily have insufficient permeability to allow significant fluid flow to a well bore, most shales are not commercial sources of natural gas unless developed through a technique known as hydraulic fracturing (fraccing). New fraccing technologies have helped create artificial fractures around well bores, thereby fuelling a boom in shale gas production globally.
According to officials, the Ministry of Oil & Gas is increasingly looking to PDO to come up with the initial breakthrough in the development of what is widely thought to be the Sultanate’s fairly extensive shale gas deposits. Oil & Gas Under-Secretary Nasser bin Khamis al Jashmi also confirmed recently that the Ministry was keen to attract international players to explore and develop this resource as well.
According to Restucci, shale gas accumulations have been found mainly in the northern areas of PDO’s concession. “We’ve been quite successful in a number of areas. The gas accumulations are there, the unconventional domains are there, the drilling has dramatically improved over the years, and we are now working on hydraulic fracturing, and recent tests on some of our tight gas accumulations have been very successful. So it’s been encouraging and we’re staying the course,” the Managing Director stated.
Restucci also underlined PDO’s leading role in the field of shale gas development in the field. “We are working with global experts, with Shell and other partners (in the quest for shale gas), but essentially this is being done (in-house) by PDO. In the region we’re at the forefront of this sector,” he added.