Oman signs exploration agreements with Occidental Petroleum

Oman's Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhy talks to journalists as he leaves the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, Austria December 5, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Oman signs exploration agreements with Occidental Petroleum

  • Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Rumhi signed the agreement covering concession 51 with Occidental Oman

DUBAI: Oman signed on Sunday two agreements giving a unit of Occidental Petroleum the rights to explore for oil and natural gas in concessions 51 and 65, the oil ministry of the sultanate said in a tweet.
Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Rumhi signed the agreement covering concession 51 with Occidental Oman and the agreement on concession 65 with Occidental Oman and Oman Oil Company Exploration and Production, a unit of state-owned Oman Oil Co, the tweet said.
Concession 51 covers 10,133 square kilometers (3,912.37 square miles) and concession 65 covers 1,230 square kilometers (474.91 square miles), Omani state TV said in a report.
The agreement provides for Occidental to spend $14 million on exploration operations in concession 51 in the initial three-year phase of the contract, Salman Al-Shehhi, the oil ministry’s director of investment, told state TV.
Oman’s oil output is about 995,000 barrels per day. The sultanate is not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries but it took part in an agreement reached by OPEC and other exporters earlier this month to reduce global supply in order to bolster oil prices.


Time to tear down Mideast trade barriers, Davos panel hears

Updated 23 January 2019
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Time to tear down Mideast trade barriers, Davos panel hears

  • Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi minister of economy and planning, said a move to ease movement of traffic across the border could be followed elsewhere
  • Majid Al Futtaim CEO Alain Bejjani: Now there’s this seriousness between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, I hope it gets to frictionless trade

DAVOS: Amid global trade wars and the rise of protectionism, Middle East economic and business leaders on Tuesday issued a clarion call for the exact opposite: To ease customs restrictions in the region.
A panel at Davos heard how an agreement between Saudi Arabia and the UAE to boost cooperation — including the reduction of obstacles to trade across the shared border — could be a blueprint for the wider region.
Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi minister of economy and planning, said a move to ease movement of traffic across the border — partly through the use of technology — could be followed elsewhere. “We want to establish a reference for others to follow,” he said.
Alain Bejjani, CEO of retail and leisure group Majid Al Futtaim, said “frictionless trade” would give the region a boost.
“Now there’s this seriousness between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, I hope it gets to frictionless trade,” he told Arab News on the sidelines of the Davos forum.
Bejjani declined to say whether that would involve a customs union, a common market or a common currency. Given the imposition of trade tariffs between the US and China, and the rise of Brexit, globalization — something espoused by many Davos delegates — is seen as on the wane.
But Bejjani said breaking down barriers in the Middle East could help it better compete with Western Europe and the US.
“For the past almost century now… we’ve been ingeniously working on making sure we put barriers across the Arab world. The reality is we have a market that’s as big as most of the largest markets in the world… if we’re smart enough to work together,” he told the Davos panel.
Khalid Al-Rumaihi, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, agreed that Saudi-UAE cooperation was “a great template” for others to follow.
Aside from “opening up” Middle East markets, Al-Rumaihi said harmonizing regulation in the region would also be beneficial to businesses and entrepreneurs.
“If the rules are changing in each country, if they’re not harmonized, it’s very difficult… for an entrepreneur (to understand) the regulatory environment. So they don’t scale very quickly, and that’s something we need to solve,” he said. Talk of freer trade within the Middle East is especially relevant when it comes to the Palestinian territories, which are subject to Israeli occupation and blockade.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said freer movement and a reduction of duties would help the economy grow.
“We need to see our products being waived (of) customs,” he said. “We need mobility — we’re under occupation.”