TBY talks to Chris Breeze, Shell Country Chairman at Shell Development Oman, on enhanced oil recovery and supporting SMEs.

Chris Breeze
Chris Breeze was appointed to his current position in January 2014. Earlier, he was Senior Adviser for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at Shell’s Government Relations department. Before joining Shell, he spent 25 years as a diplomat in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). His overseas postings for the FCO included Egypt, Turkey, India, and Cyprus. He studied Modern History and Economics at Exeter College, Oxford University.

How has Shell developed in Oman over recent years?

A relatively recent development has been the establishment, in 2002, of a Shell office separate from the joint ventures in which we are partners—Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), Oman LNG, and Shell Oman Marketing (SOM). We are a minority shareholder in each of these, with the principal shareholder of the first two being the government of the Sultanate of Oman and the Omani public owning the majority of the third through the Muscat Stock Exchange. We subsequently also became a partner in Occidental's development of the Mukhaizna field. The establishment of a separate Shell office has enabled us better to reach into the wider Royal Dutch Shell group on behalf of our joint ventures in Oman in order to deliver cutting-edge technology and experienced people to the ventures. This ensures that we help the joint ventures deliver projects, enhance their operational excellence, and continuously improve their performance. Other relatively recent Shell in Oman milestones include the 2006 opening of the Shell Technology Oman (STO) office, which is a vehicle for our strategic alliance with PDO on enhanced oil recovery (EOR), the 2010 Technical Support Agreement, which put Shell's technical support under the PDO board governance structure, the Services Agreement signed with Oman LNG the same year, and the 2011 Technology Development Cooperation Agreement between Shell, the government, and PDO. We now have four other strategic technological alliances with PDO, in addition to EOR, covering smart fields, geophysical technologies, materials and corrosion, and fiber optics for wells and reservoir management, with the last two added in 2014.

How would you assess the importance of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) for the Sultanate of Oman? What kind of contribution are you providing to PDO and Oman LNG?

According to the government, approximately 18% of Oman's current oil production involves EOR. Part of this is Occidental's development of the Mukhaizna field, which is one of the largest steam flood operations in the world. In PDO, the percentage of its oil production using EOR is currently 11%, but PDO expects this to reach 33% by 2023. Hence, EOR is increasingly important for the Sultanate of Oman. The relationship between Shell and PDO on EOR is truly symbiotic in the sense that PDO benefits from Shell's world-class subject matter experts in a range of different EOR disciplines and from Shell's global EOR network, while Shell benefits from PDO's experience implementing novel EOR technologies. This cooperation has placed Oman, PDO, and Shell at the forefront of global EOR innovation. Shell's contribution to PDO and Oman LNG is, by means of technology, people, and a strong focus on asset integrity, safety, and project delivery, helping them to be the extraordinary companies that they are. SOM is one of the leading companies on the local stock exchange, and PDO and Oman LNG are principal engines of the Omani economy. The contribution that these companies make is important to Oman, and we are honored and proud to be partners.

SMEs play a critical role in Oman's economy. How are you supporting young entrepreneurs in that respect?

We have a program called Intilaaqah, based on the Shell LiveWire program, which was started in the UK in 1982. It aims to give young people the entrepreneurial and innovative skills required to start their own businesses. We have been running Intilaaqah in Oman since 1995. Intilaaqah is a training scheme that takes people through the process of starting their own businesses and teaches participants how to make business plans, apply for funding, and covers a series of other aspects on how to successfully run a business. In 2007, we expanded beyond training by establishing a fund to finance start-ups. In 2011 we enhanced that fund with an additional cash injection, and developed it into the Nomou Fund, which is run by the Shell Foundation and GroFin. Through Intilaaqah we have recently signed MoUs with Future Generations International and Haya Water. We intend to sign an MoU with Al Raffd Fund, too. The first step for an Intilaaqah student is to attend a one-day “Bright Ideas" workshop. We aim for around 2,000 people to go through those every year.