ENDURANCE THROUGH DIVERSITY

Oman 2018 | ENERGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Chris Breeze, Country Chairman of Shell Development Oman, on contributing to national prosperity, leveraging renewable opportunities, and remaining at the forefront of social investment in Oman.

Chris Breeze
BIOGRAPHY
Chris Breeze is the Country Chairman of Shell Development Oman. This followed a role as Senior Adviser for the Middle East and North Africa region in Shell’s Government Relations department. Before joining Shell, he served as a diplomat in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office for over two decades. His overseas postings for the FCO included Egypt, Turkey, India, and Cyprus. He studied Modern History and Economics at Exeter College, Oxford University.

What developments are there in Oman's liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry at the moment?

It is an interesting time for Oman's LNG industry, which continues to evolve since its establishment by Royal Decree back in 1994 after the discovery of significant volumes of non-associated gas in the country. The volumes exceeded the needs of domestic industry, and Oman sought to monetize them through export. Shell was involved in the design and construction of Oman's LNG plant, which was completed ahead of time and under budget in 2000, and has a 30% stake in it. Oman's LNG contribution to government revenue is significant, in some years contributing almost 10% of its income, with a resulting contribution to the wider economy. The company enhances this through an active social investment policy not only in and around its plant location in Sur but across the country. In the longer term, Shell aims to help Oman ensure sufficient gas for both domestic consumption and LNG export through further exploration efforts in Oman, the proposed Iran-Oman gas pipeline, and the development of in-country renewable energy.

What are your thoughts on the new EOR technologies being explored by GlassPoint, in which Shell is a shareholder?

The GlassPoint project generates steam directly through solar energy and is highly efficient at doing so. Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and GlassPoint's development of this technology to enhance the heavy oil recovery (EOR) from the Amal field in south Oman is visionary. The project frees up for other uses a significant amount of gas which would otherwise be used for steam generation. The construction of the project, now in its second phase, followed an extensive pilot in which PDO and GlassPoint observed that, because the steam retained its heat underground, the lack of steam generation at night had little or no impact on oil recovery. There is considerable scope for renewable energy sources like solar and wind in all oil production, and Shell is interested in exploring this in Oman and elsewhere.

What is your current involvement with SMEs, and what impact is this having on Oman's development?

Shell has supported the SME sector in Oman since 1995 when the company launched the 'Shell Intilaaqah' program to coincide with the publication of Oman's Vision 2020 which emphasized diversification, the role of the private sector, and fostering SME growth. Shell Intilaaqah is a social investment program to support budding entrepreneurs. Intilaaqah, which means “take-off" in Arabic, is based on Shell's LiveWIRE program, which started in 1982 in Scotland and has been going ever since. We relaunched Intilaaqah as part of our 2015 'Gift to the Nation' to enhance our support to SMEs. We do this by providing more focus on guiding SMEs through the challenges they often face in marketing, human resource, project, and cash flow management, and by offering diagnostic studies for struggling start-ups and small businesses.

What are your objectives and future expansion plans for 2017?

There is quite a bit on our plate at the moment. We are of course supporting PDO to safely increase its oil production and continue its journey to enhanced unit operating costs in Block 6. With PDO we are examining expansion options to tap into the considerable potential of PDO expertise for the benefit of Oman more broadly. We are also focused on helping Oman LNG maintain its operational excellence. The plant at Sur has an admirable health and safety record, and it recently achieved 20 million man hours without a lost time injury, a great achievement. We are particularly focused on supporting Oman LNG to increase the utilization of the plant without any safety incidents. That is a real focus for the coming 18 months. Separately, we have signed a Heads of Agreement with Oman Oil Company Exploration and Production (OOCEP) to assist in the exploration and development of oil and gas in block 42, among others we are keen to explore.