Oman revives Iran’s gas import plan, if the nuclear deal restored: Minister

18 May, 2021
Source: Platts

Oman would like revive plans to import Iranian gas via pipeline should the nuclear deal be reinstated, and is also considering extending its pipeline network to Yemen, Mohammed al-Rumhy, the sultanate's oil and gas minister told S&P Global Platts.

"I am optimistic that, if not the later part of this year, maybe soon we will be talking about bringing life to that project again," Rumhy said of the Iran-Oman pipeline, in an interview. "There are many opportunities to make good use of that project from Oman's point of view."

Rumhy said he is closely monitoring Iran nuclear talks but wants to be sure that if the JCPOA comes back into force, it is lasting and not subject to future political wrangling.

"We could do with more gas, if the supply is steady, guaranteed, [with] no threats from future sanctions," said Rumhy. "The first question people ask is what if, after Biden, Trump comes back and cancels the agreement again? This question will be asked, and we have to be careful on what type of agreement we have this time around."

The proposed pipeline would run from the giant South Pars gas field in Iran to Sohar in the north of Oman, where an existing pipeline runs to Salalah near the Yemeni border.

Ideally, the pipeline could then be extended into Yemen, Rumhy said.

"Yemen, one day, will have peace," said Rumhy. "The day they sign a peace agreement the first thing they will ask for is energy. Gas is needed in a country like Yemen to start to move from conflict to creating industries and opportunities for their people."

Those opportunities could be an increase in industry, said Rumhy.

In addition to re-exporting Iranian gas to Yemen, Oman would look to utilize some for industry, increase its LNG and petrochemical production capacity, and also potentially delve into the hydrogen space, Rumhy said.

Oman has recently been able to catalyze its LNG exports through the development of the Khazzan field, one of the few examples of successful employment of US-honed shale drilling techniques in the Middle East.

Omani LNG exports were essentially at full capacity 2018-2020, when they averaged at about 12 Bcm/year. Over the last 24 months, Oman has been conducting debottlenecking operations at its Oman LNG facility, which will allow Omani LNG exports to expand by about 2 Bcm/year. Platts Analytics expects Omani LNG exports at around 14 Bcm/year over the coming five years.

"We could do LNG very fast. Today, it is feasible to use gas to produce blue hydrogen. That is something we would discuss with the Iranians," said Rumhy. "This would open up a new opportunity for the Iranians to get their hands on hydrogen as well. We can do things like that together."

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