Complex Made Simple

Explained: How Oman’s top oil firm secured oil fields in remote deserts

Sultanate of Oman, an Arab country in the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, has 5.3 billion barrels of estimated known oil reserves. It possesses the 7th and 25th largest proved oil and gas reserves in the region and the world respectively.

In 2015, the country’s total crude oil and condensates output reached 358.10 million barrels, an average daily production of 981,090 barrels, which roughly accounts for 40 per cent of the nominal GDP.

Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), the country’s top oil and gas exploration and production company, accounts for 70 per cent of the sultanate’s crude-oil production and nearly all of its natural-gas supply.

The Omani government’s majority-owned PDO operates in a concession area of about 100,000 km2 (one third of Oman’s geographical area), has around 130 producing fields, close to 6,000 producing wells, and a workforce of around 8,000 employees.

Oil and gas extraction, at massive scale, and transport from the sultanate’s far-flung deserts to its ports is critical to this Middle Eastern nation’s economic health. The sultanate’s geography and climate present a challenge to safe, secure and efficient oil and gas production. The northeast coastal range reaches 2,000 meters and the southern coast can experience 90 percent humidity and monsoon-like rains. The vast interior desert is also a land of extremes with temperatures that typically exceed 50° degrees Celsius (120° degrees Fahrenheit), and sometimes reach as high as 60° degrees Celsius (140° degrees Fahrenheit). Thus extreme temperatures, moisture and blowing sand and dust can wreak havoc on wellhead-related communications networks and security equipment.

These environmental conditions had in the past revealed reliability issues with a former vendor’s equipment and PDO found that maintaining air-conditioned shelters for fragile communications equipment was impractical and expensive. Scale and changing circumstances presented a challenge as well.

South part of Oman has some of the deepest and most sour fields in the world. The amount of H2S – hydrogen sulfide – is great and under very high pressure. Because of the serious threat the gas posed to the employees PDO was also trying to minimize the number of people doing routine field work by having them work centrally and remotely.

PDO sought a long-established vendor to provide network design and a suite of solutions to enable reliable, resilient and efficient monitoring and control of remote, automated oil and gas wellheads in the harsh desert environment.

The Europe’s largest engineering firm Siemens Group found solutions for PDO’s all the problems.

Siemens met PDO’s need for three basic applications: wellhead monitoring to support safe, efficient operations, improved SCADA connectivity that allows the integration of legacy and new sensors and enhanced surveillance capabilities to enable intrusion detection, real-time alarms and timely responses. Click here to find out more.