TBY talks to Raoul Restucci, Managing Director of Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), on the development of the firm, enhanced oil recovery, and the prominence of gas.

Raoul Restucci
Raoul Restucci was appointed Managing Director of PDO in 2010. Prior to this he was Executive Vice-President of Upstream for Shell in the Middle East & North Africa and was a member of Shell’s Upstream Leadership Team. He first joined Shell in 1980, following his graduation from Nottingham University with a degree in Mining Engineering.

How has Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) evolved in recent years?

PDO has a distinguished history. The first cargo was in May 1967 from the early developments in the northern fields, which produced generally light oil. Work gradually shifted to the southern fields, moving toward infill drilling, horizontal drilling, 3D seismic work, and water floods, and more recently with enhanced oil recovery (EOR), which is an area through which PDO differentiates itself from all other companies. Our geology is complex; our fields are more mature and they tend to be smaller than our neighbors. Pressure support is more limited and oil viscosities tend to be higher, with an increasing level of sour gas production. We have had to move into a significant program of EOR technologies. We are the only company in the world that has thermal, miscible, and polymer chemical injection recovery mechanisms within the same concession, all of which are in full-scale implementation.

Which EOR technologies are the most important for PDO today?

Polymer injection is effectively the most embedded and advanced field application; however, miscible gas is very significant and thermal processes are expanding every day. The key point is that at the moment they represent 3% or 4% of our total production, so they are relatively small. By 2020 or 2021, however, more than one-quarter of our production will be linked to these recovery mechanisms. There will be an exponential increase in the contributions made by EOR technologies in the future.

How significant is the research PDO does into EOR?

I am a strong believer that research is about effective implementation more than just having it on the shelf. PDO is particularly strong in technology testing and deployment, with considerable experience in identifying and assessing new tools and processes and with proficient implementation practices. We have very strong technology relationships with a number of entities, with Shell as a significant partner and stakeholder. We also have partnerships with Sultan Qaboos University, alongside a number of industry projects with key service and technology providers across the world. At any one time, we have in excess of 70 different technologies being tested, simulated, modeled, or implemented in the field. In some areas, we progress to full-scale adoption, while in other areas we are in the early front-end assessment and development stages.

What opportunities exist to market PDO's expertise elsewhere in the world?

I think EOR technologies developed in Oman will be increasingly exported to countries that are looking to progress through similar development challenges, across the full spectrum of seismic exploration through to development applications. Oman is recognized as a center of best practice in oil and gas exploitation. Increasingly, this is focused on the well and reservoir/facility management of our operations, our water management and reservoir imaging technologies, our artificial lift experience, and so much more. This knowledge and operational experience is showcased and exported to a number of countries, principally in the GCC, but also beyond and in the same way as PDO seeks and pursues best practice from other countries. That is one of the strengths of working with our international partners such as Shell, Total, and Partex, where you are networking, capturing, and sharing best practice wherever that may be.

What chemical and geographic complications do you face drilling in Oman?

As you progress through the more complex challenges, you have to step up the level of associated mitigation and risk management measures. The challenge doesn't mean a higher risk. You have to deal with the challenges with appropriate safety measures and mitigation programs, lowering risks to the lowest possible level.