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Journey Through Oman's Exploration History – Lessons from the Past


Utilization of natural resources in Oman dates back to ancient times, when it used to be known as the land of Majan, which was famous for its copper mining. However, the real journey through the Oman's Petroleum history starts in 1925 when D'Arcy Exploration Company Ltd. obtained a two year exploration license. The challenging terrain and the tribal unrest restricted the campaign and it wasn't until after 1937 that fruitful work could be done. The drilling for petroleum started in the early 1950s in central and south Oman, but it wasn't until 1962 that commercial discovery was made in Yibal. In between there was a sequence of dry wells including Fahud-1 which was drilled over a major surface eroded anticline. The Fahud field (the largest field in Oman) was discovered by re-drilling later, following on from the Natih field discovery in 1963. The following decade (1970s) marked the period of transformation in Oman during which the country become more stable and open under the leadership of Sultan Qaboos bin Said. This new environment allowed the petroleum industry in Oman to gather strength resulting in more major discoveries of both oil and gas. One of the best ways to look at the history of petroleum in Oman is through its creaming curve, which depicts a perfect inverted stratigraphic table with spikes driven by implementation of new technologies and concepts. As is the norm, the shallow simple oil in the Cretaceous carbonates was discovered first followed by Jurassic to Cambrian clastic reservoirs. HCs in the Infra-Cambrian/Pre-Cambrian Ara and Buah were discovered much later. Some of the key Lessons learned are related to drilling deeper more challenging plays by a combination of applying new drilling and stimulation technologies with a constant focus on driving down the costs and improving well productivity. The lack of an efficient creaming technology (such as multiple-free 3D seismic in typical offshore settings) and the abundance of plays and petroleum systems suggests that we have left many opportunities untouched. Currently we are focusing on delivering even higher quality WAZ 3D seismic to unlock the more subtle traps.