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Omani oil minister praises industry safety; Keynoter warns of tough year in

Posted on 04 December 2008

More than 180 industry professionals attended the event at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. The theme of the conference was “People & Equipment: Ensuring the Fundamentals in Today’s Expanding Industry.”

Dr Al Rumhy said he did not want to dwell on the current global economic situation, but hoped the conference would instead focus on providing “an emphasis on people, HSE, and the willingness to share experiences with others in our industry.

Dr Al Rumhy became Minister of Oil and Gas of the Sultanate of Oman in December, 1997.  The minister’s leadership has been credited for providing new opportunities for a growing number of producers and drilling contractors that have helped construct the flourishing drilling industry that currently exists in the sultanate of Oman.

Once the sole domain of Shell-backed Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), Oman now enjoys a contingent of 22 different operating companies currently involved in drilling projects in the country.  That number includes well-known industry names such as BP, BG Group, and Occidental Oil & Gas, as well as several newer startup ventures. Many of these companies are actively involved in exploring for natural gas.

More and more natural gas is being discovered in Oman, the Minister said, and the Sultanate's proven gas reserves are expected to continue to swell in coming years. This year PDO announced the discovery of what is potentially the largest gas field found in Oman in recent years.

Gas is increasingly being used to develop new industries and create much-needed jobs, and to diversify the sultanate’s economy, said Dr Al Rumhy.

Photo at left: H.E. Mohammed Al-Barwani, MB Holdings

And, today’s economic crisis notwithstanding, the industry’s outlook is bright, remarked H.E. Mohammed Al-Barwani, CEO of MB Holdings, in a keynote address that followed the Minister’s remarks with  the keynote speech for the conference.

“As the world economy improves, demand for oil will rapidly come back,” predicted Mr Al-Barwani in a speech entitled “The Impact of The Financial Crises on The Oilfield Service Industry.”

But next year is likely to be tough, he cautioned.

The current situation is different from previous downturns, Mr Al-Barwani said, because the root cause of the problem is not the oil industry or over capacity of drilling rigs, but a collapse of demand due to the weak health of the world economy.

“For companies which will survive this crisis,” he said, “there will be great opportunities for acquiring other companies, good management personnel, and talented workers. But we need to realize we live in a globalized world, and the stability of the world economy is important to us as suppliers of energy to the world. It is very clear that when the world economy is doing well we will also do well.”

Mr Al-Barwani launched MB Petroleum Services in 1986 upon his department from Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).   The company now has 7,000 employees with operations in 15 countries worldwide.  Mr Al-Barwani was an IADC Regional Vice President – International in the late 1990s.

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