Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

Fracking in high demand as Oman drills the desert for oil

The desert terrain makes drilling for oil particularly difficult Abraj Energy Services
The desert terrain makes drilling for oil particularly difficult
  • Abraj boss says oil fracking growing in popularity
  • Oil and gas provides Omani government with 70% of annual budget
  • Controversial technique has critics due to environmental impact

Oil fracking demand in Oman has proliferated in the last four years and is projected to increase further, a top executive at Abraj Energy Services has said.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as it is more commonly known, is a technique for extracting oil, natural gas, geothermal energy or water from shale rock deep underground.

It involves drilling into the earth and then directing a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals into a rock layer to create cracks through which the oil, gas or water can move more freely. Critics say it can lead to water contamination and the triggering of earthquakes.

Salah Al Harthy, business development director at Abraj, an Omani drilling company which is a subsidiary of state-owned OQ, told AGBI: “Oil fracking prior to 2019 was only barely even five percent, compared to 95 percent gas fracking. Today we are seeing a major shift.

“Oil fracking has grown from five percent of total frack activities in Oman in 2018 to 25 percent in 2021. Fracking demand will only increase as we go forward in both oil and gas.”

Oman, the biggest oil exporter outside Opec, is home to one of the most challenging desert terrains in the Middle East.

Fracking is considered the most efficient method for accessing difficult to reach or otherwise inaccessible reserves, making it a priority technology for sustaining Oman’s hydrocarbon output.

Al Harthy said Abraj has “managed to pioneer oil fracking”.

“You can almost say we [rewrote] how to do oil fracking and now we are seeing demand is increasing not only with our main customers but also other international oil companies in the country,” he said.

Salah Al Harthy, business development director at Abraj

Abraj was the first to launch integrated fracking services in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), spearheading the development of deep tight gas wells which comprise a growing portion of Oman’s gas supply.

The company was also the first to deploy joystick controlled and disk-brake rigs, fast-moving heavy mobile rigs, and variable frequency drive rigs in Oman.

Al Harthy attributed the increasing demand to low cost and high efficiency.

“Fracking in the oil wells is becoming very cost effective to the customer in comparison to drilling a new well,” he explained. 

“It’s an easy process. It takes a shorter period of time to be able to realise new oil compared to a long process of drilling.”

Al Harthy added that, on matured fields, zones that have been producing without fracking have become damaged over time due to the production process.

“The reduction in production is becoming very obvious over time,” he said.

Fracking has been employed in the US since 1947, propelling the country’s energy sector over the past decade and overtaking Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s biggest oil producer.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, total domestic production of crude oil jumped from 5.4 million barrels a day in early 2010 to a record 13 million at the end of 2019.

In 2018 Oman’s Ministry of Oil & Gas urged the state’s energy industry to strongly explore opportunities for localising the supply chain surrounding the use of fracking to make the technology even more cost competitive and economical.

“Nothing comes close to hydraulic fracturing,” Salim bin Nasser Al Aufi, undersecretary in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals of the Sultanate of Oman, said at an industry event earlier this year.

“It changed the fundamentals of oil and gas, whether it’s on the oil side or the shale oil and gas revolution that happened in the US.”

Oil has been a mainstay of the Omani economy since the sultanate began commercial production in 1967, supporting the Gulf Arab state’s infrastructure, including electric utilities, roads, public education and medical services.

The government derives roughly 70 percent of its annual budget from oil and gas revenues through taxation and joint ownership of some of the most productive fields, and the industry accounts for 30 percent of Oman’s gross domestic product.

Latest articles

Flooding in Dubai affected many people's homes. Emaar has promised .free repairs for its residents, and an upgraded sewerage system is planned

Emaar promises free repairs as Dubai launches sewerage system

Emaar Properties is offering free repairs to residents whose homes were damaged during this week’s extreme flooding, as Dubai also announced an AED80 billion ($22 billion) sewerage system. The developer announced on Friday that it would repair all homes in its communities affected by the historic levels of rain, “at no cost to residents”. Emaar’s […]

A customer paying with a credit card inside the Black Friday Market in Beirut. Lebanon wants more people to move away from cash

Lebanon launches plan to promote use of bank cards

Lebanese central bank Banque du Liban announced a new agreement on Thursday that it hopes will result in a rebound in the use of bank cards. As part of the agreement, Mastercard and Visa will lower card fees on transactions, particularly for people with bank accounts based outside Lebanon. In a press release, the bank […]

Construction work in Kuwait. Nurseries, schools and shops are being built for the new residential district of Al Metlaa

Kuwait signs $140m contracts for Al Metlaa development

Kuwait’s Public Authority for Housing Welfare (PAHW) has signed two contracts worth KD42 million ($140 million) to construct public buildings in Al Metlaa, a new residential district north of Kuwait City. Nurseries, stores, schools and shops will be included, state news agency Kuna reported. Electricity connections have been provided for 109 buildings in the district, […]

Workers at Cano Limon oil field in eastern Colombia. Oil is one of the country's largest exports

UAE strikes Colombia deal to strengthen Latin American links

The UAE has strengthened trade relations with Latin America after signing a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with Colombia, just days after a Cepa deal was struck with Costa Rica. Officials from the UAE and Colombia put pen to paper on an agreement that will cut tariffs and remove trade barriers between the two countries. UAE […]