Oman to Create State Natural Gas Company

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Oman plans to create a national company to manage the state’s natural gas interests, the latest in a series of domestic reform initiatives that have also targeted the energy sector.

Under the plan, Oman's finance ministry will set up an an integrated gas firm that will act on behalf of the government in managing the country's natural gas assets, rights and obligations related to the purchase, sale, import, export and transport of gas and its byproducts.

“By establishing this company, the ministry aims to improving Oman’s financial performance indicators by excluding gas purchase and transport expenses from the state budget, supplying the treasury with gas sales net revenues [and] upgrading the efficiency of this sector’s management,” the ministry said in a statement on Twitter.

The ministry didn't provide further details.

Gas Growth

Oman's gas sector has seen a major change of fortune in recent years as new developments such as BP's Khazzan and Ghazeer tight gas projects boosted output, feeding the domestic power and industrial sectors and supporting the country's LNG exports.

Earlier this week, Japanese players Jera, Mitsui and Itochu signed binding sheet agreements with five-to-10-year tenures with Oman LNG for the import of a combined 2.35 million tons per year of the supercooled fuel, a sign that tight energy markets have led to renewed appetite for longer-term gas supply deals.

The establishment of a national gas champion would be in line with similar initiatives implemented since Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said succeeded the country's long-term ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said in January 2020 and accelerated domestic economic reforms.

Self-Funding Entity

In late 2020, Sultan Haitham established state-owned Energy Development Oman (EDO) via royal decree to manage the government's assets in the oil and gas sector, which were previously held through the government's 60% stake in Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), in which Shell, TotalEnergies and Partex are shareholders at 34%, 4% and 2%, respectively.

Oman at the time said EDO was created as a self-funding entity to free the government from funding oil and gas development work through the national budget.

Unlike PDO, EDO's finances are not controlled by the finance ministry, which gives it the flexibility to access debt markets as needed. It also means that spending on the assets transferred to EDO are not part of the sultanate's budget.

Oman, the largest Arab oil producer that's not a member of Opec, has pressed ahead with its country's Vision 2040 social and economic reform agenda since 2013, with a view to tackle issues such as sluggish economic growth, rising debt and costly subsidies.

The International Monetary Fund, in its latest Article IV consultation in November, said Oman's GDP was expected to grow at 4.2% this year compared with 3% in 2021 and a contraction of 3.2% in 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country hard.

Policy and Regulation, Gas Supply, Corporate Strategy , NOCs
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