Oxy Oman exploring 'new opportunities' in Block 53

Block 53 holds the Mukhaizna field where Oxy and its partners have invested in the development of one of the world's largest steamflood projects to produce heavy oil

Oxy is looking for 'new hydrocarbon opportunities' within its Block 53 license.
Oxy is looking for 'new hydrocarbon opportunities' within its Block 53 license.

Occidental Oman (Oxy), the Sultanate's largest independent oil and gas producer, says it has embarked on an effort to unearth new hydrocarbon opportunities within its Block 53 license in southcentral Oman.

Block 53 holds the Mukhaizna field where Oxy and its partners have invested in the development of one of the world's largest steamflood projects to produce heavy oil from its sandstone reservoirs.

Production from the Mukhaizna field averaged 122,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2015, representing roughly half of Oxy 's gross production of around 233,000 bpd from its assets in the Sultanate.

In an interview to the Oman Daily Observer, a high-ranking company executive said Oxy Oman is currently engaged in uncovering the block's ‘wider hydrocarbon potential’.

"Recently we have started our exploration programme where we are looking for more opportunities within the block," Adnan al Lawati, vice president - Operations, said. "Our major focus is on developing the Gharif reservoir which holds about 2.5bn barrels of oil in place."

"There is also a shallower opportunity with an estimated 800mn barrels of oil in place in a place called Kahmah," he added in a presentation to delegates attending an economic conference held in Omani capital Muscat last week.

Covering an area of around 700 sqkm, Block 53 passed into the hands of Oxy Oman as operator in 2005 nearly three decades after it was first discovered in 1975.

At the time of its takeover, cold production (without the application of steam-injection) averaged around 8,500 bpd. Steam flood based oil recovery technology was introduced in 2007, helping eventually ramp up output to around 122,000 bpd as of end-2015, said Al Lawati.

Outlining on the characteristics of Block 53, he said: "The development area is about 300 sqkm. There are two structures - the North Structure and South Structure. The field holds over 3bn barrels of oil in place in the ground. This is distributed between sandstone with around 2.5bn barrels, and carbonate fractures with around 800mn barrels of oil in place. (The latter) has been a bit challenging for development. However both of these are heavy oil, which require steam infrastructure."

More than 2,600 wells have been drilled on the block over the past decade, said Al Lawati, describing the Mukhaizna project as one of only three world-leading steam-flood oil recovery schemes alongside comparably sized developments in Canada and Indonesia.

Steam flood infrastructure developed at Mukhaizna over the years now makes it possible for Oxy to inject around 600,000 barrels of steam per day into the field, and handle over the 850,000 barrels of fluids per day as well, he said.

The massive infrastructure built around the field includes water and steam generation facilities, dehydration units and utilities, as well as Oxy's own airport, residential camps and sewage treatment plant, Al Lawati mentioned.

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